October 19, 2005

NBA: No Bling Allowed


David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA and Kermit the Frog lookalike, recently issued rules for a new NBA dress code. Pre- and post-game, ballers cannot wear:

  • Sleeveless shirts
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts, jerseys, or sports apparel [especially throwbacks]
  • Headgear of any kind
  • Chains, pendants, or medallions worn over the player's clothes
  • Sunglasses while indoors
  • Headphones (other than on the team bus or plane, or in the team locker room)

and must wear

  • A long or short-sleeved dress shirt (collared or turtleneck), and/or a sweater
  • Dress slacks, khaki pants, or dress jeans
  • Appropriate shoes and socks, including dress shoes, dress boots, or other presentable shoes, but not including sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or work boots

Stern clearly has a right to make these demands (the NBA is a business), but I don't really understand why he has decided to wield his power so arbitrarily. I fail to see in what ways this new image of the NBA is going to improve anything, other than maybe get Kobe an endorsement deal with Joseph A. Banks.

Some have suggested that this move, like the proposal to raise the minimum age at which you can enter the draft, is racially motivated. That may seem to be a pretty extreme accusation, and I'm not saying it isn't, but let's just try something.

When I say "bling" or "Watch out for the medallion, my diamonds are reckless / Feels like a midget is hangin from my necklace," what pops into your head?

Larry Bird? John Stockton? Steve Nash? Dirk Nowitzki? Vlade Divac?

I personally think that everyone that looks good in anything looks better in a suit, but I really don't understand the reasoning behind rules like this or the no-celebration rules in the NFL.

The hip-hop culture is clearly a large part of the NBA culture right now, and I do not see that as a bad thing. And I have no idea what removing it is supposed to solve, improve, or create.


  1. First, kudos on the picture.

    Second, Robert Butts has an interesting op-ed on this. http://www.thedartmouth.com/article.php?aid=2005101802020

    It starts off critiquing the dress code, but after the first four pargraphs he veers off course and responds to the worst of the arguments against the dress code.

    We all know that Marcus Camby's an idiot, and that sometimes Stern is able to wield his power arbitrarily because the backlash comes across as so stupid and misguided that Stern's policy looks more reasonable after it's criticized.

    I'm curious about the arguments against it.

    I think the NBA is trying to clean up its image and ingratiate itself more to its fans. When players get arrested for doing stupid things, shoot their mouths off on TV and otherwise act like 14-year-olds who just hit the lottery, it's bad for the league. This dress code thing is probably meant to convey the message that the league expects its players to act like professionals.

    I'm not sure that this is the right way to do it, or that being forced to dress differently at games will make players less likely to get arrested for weed and guns in the Escalade, but I think I see the motivation.

  2. i realize what Stern is trying to do, but I don't think it will actually improve the NBA's relationship with "Main Street," as Butts calls it. for one thing, i'm not sure it's all that bad--not that having ballplayers with rap sheets more extensive than their tattoos is a good thing--but I think Middle America has adjusted to this new NBA image. I have not seen any figures about huge decline in attendance or sponsorship--Indiana, which is about as Middle America as you can get rallied behind the biggest thug of all--Ron Artest after his suspension last year. I have no idea what the actual justification for this is, other than Stern's whims.

    I, for one, like some badassedness--not criminality, though--in professional sports. I think the NFL is so much more fun when TO pulls a marker from his sock and writes on the ball. I think the NBA is more exciting when there is more showmanship, more Dr. J-ness. I think most of Middle America agrees.

  3. Anonymous3:32 PM

    The only reason David Stern is giving the NBA a dress code is to control every aspect of young Black men's lives. It's very ironic that everything that is banned is common wear for young Black men. Their work uniform is the jersey and shorts that they wear on the court. And the fact that people, Black people at that, are agreeing with this is bothering me especially. Wake up everybody!

  4. The latest here -- mostly a few reactions from players.


    Jason Richardson and Paul Pierce make the most sense to me.

    Pierce says that some days, he might just wear his chains and take a fine. I like this sort of thing. Like when the Rams kept doing this particular celebration and paid the fine when the NFL banned it, or like when the owner of the Mavs (I think) will give his honest opinions in interviews, and if those opinions sometimes include the idea that the referees sucked, he pays the cost.

    I can't decide whether it's the epitome of civil disobedience or merely the wealthy flaunting the fact that their money protects them from consequences. Either way I think it's pretty cool when they disobey stupid rules and stand up to the league.