NBA Dress Code Won’t Fly In Urban Culture At This Late Date

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 7, 2005

SAN ANTONIO – The NBA wants to start enforcing a dress code for the 300 plus players of the NBA starting this season. Well that might not be a bad idea but I’ve got one essential question for Commissioner David Stern and the office peeps over at the league office: how are you going to enforce such a rule?

I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t think this is a bad idea but I have my own trepidations on trying to impose something on a bunch of grown men. Let’s face it, the NBA has changed dramatically from the days when the ‘old heads’ ruled the courts.

Today’s NBA player is rarely seen wearing suits or even business casual attire. Most of today’s players however are of a different generation where the hip/hop attire is very prevalent. As I have said numerous times and even wrote in a column or two, the league simply cannot take the good of hip-hop without taking the bad as well. That includes the clothing attire.

To have players step off the bus or drive up in suits may be asking a tad bit too much but I understand where the league is coming from. Stern wants his product to reflect the corporate dollars that it is bringing in yet we really have to examine EXACTLY where those dollars are coming from. Truth be told, when it comes to this argument, Stern may be on the losing end of it.

While the corporate fat cats may have the luxury boxes and the prime seats in many venues, the ‘urban’ population at a basketball game is growing just like the stats for numerous super stars. The biggest age bracket where more disposable income is coming from happens to be from the 18 – 26 demographic.

This group of our society is producing income faster and in greater quantities than their fathers and grandfathers did and definitely more than those who are just four years older than them. It is this demographic that fits such young players like an Amare Stoudamire, a Ben Gordon, or a LeBron James. Those are the peers of that age group and it just so happens that it is that age group that is slowly making its way into buying up those luxury boxes and prime seats.

The other issue that may be plaguing this dress code is the fact that there simply isn’t a way to police it. Quite simply you cannot tell a grown man how to dress on his way to work if you have never had it in writing.

The NBPA may like the idea but even Billy Hunter and his staff know that it is nearly unenforceable at this point. Quite frankly I don’t know how you can even make it a manageable rule where it can be enforced without encroaching on one’s right of self-expression.

Maybe this is something best left up to the individual and some guidelines. One thing is for certain though. Since the league has never enforced such a rule in the past, it would be very difficult to enforce one now. Even I think that some of the clothes being worn or the hairstyles that are out there is just a tad bit much for a professional athlete.

But then I’m not that individual’s conscience. I like the corporate structure to some extent. I may not dress the part every day but I can do it at the drop of a hat. For some of these athletes, this type of restriction may just restrict their creativity on the court and I’m sure Commissioner Stern wouldn’t want that to happen.

Go to fullsize image WANT YOUR KID TO BE RICH? TEACH HIM TO PLAY GOLF I don’t want to sound facetious on this subject but a friend of mine told me that if many African Americans want their children to live ‘successful’ lives as athletes, maybe they should learn to play golf.

Now this isn’t a racist statement so don’t take it as such yet if you look at many professional golfers in both genders, a great majority of them are unknown but they are making a sizeable living doing so. I witnessed that at this past year’s Texas Open when a relatively unknown golfer by the name of Robert Gamez took home a $600k check.

Now when my friend told me this little tidbit, it never dawned on me that most PGA or LPGA golfers are not that well known. Sure we all know whom Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie, and Annika Sorrenstam is but how about a golfer like Dudley Hart or Justin Rose.

Never heard of them? Well neither have I but looking at the PGA’s money list, both of those players have made over $1 million this year and the fact that not very many people in the sports world know who they are is a testament to my friend’s statement about how most golfers can live very comfortably without all the fanfare that is associated with being a big time professional athlete.

Now I say all of that in the effort to at least show that there alternatives for many of our kids who want to be professional athletes. Golf is one of those sports that gets very little recognition in the Black community unless Tiger is playing but if there are some parents who are seriously looking to push their talented golfers into that realm, this is not a bad profession.

There are very few Tiger Woods or Michelle Wies in the world but there are certainly a couple hundred Justin Roses out there making a good living swinging the clubs a few times a year.