Dress code long overdue in NBA

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2005

Doctors typically wear some type of white lab coat with a stethoscope wrapped around their neck. The wear a button up shirt sometimes with a tie.

George W. Bush, in most cases, is wears a coat and tie just about everywhere he goes unless he's at his ranch in Texas. Even then he wears a collared shirt.

But what if people that we hold in such high regard, like a doctor or the president, came to work in flip-flops, a pair of baggy shorts and a Mr. T starter kit hanging down around their neck. Would you have much confidence in them?

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I didn't think so.

This debate began this week when National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern announced the institution of a dress code for NBA players.

The dress code calls for players to wear collared dress shirts or turtlenecks; dress slacks, khaki pants or dress jeans; and dress shoes or boots or &uot;other presentable shoes&uot; with socks; and no sneakers, sandals, flip-flops or work boots.

Players are prohibited from wearing headgear, T-shirts, team jerseys, chains, pendants or medallions. Sunglasses while indoors and headphones, except on the team bus, plane or in the locker room, are also banned.

Those who have retired from the NBA applaud the new dress code, while present players who are barely above the drinking age are all up in arms.

This debate has now gone down the racial divide with players saying that the dress code is targeting black players.

&#8220I just think that's attacking young, black males,” Indiana Pacers player Stephen Jackson said in a published report. &#8220The part about wearing suits, I think we should dress up. But the chains, that’s going a little too far.&uot;

The simple fact is that the dress code is targeting a league where its players would rather dress like a bunch of bums than professionals.

They are professional basketball players, and they should show up to work like professionals.

&uot;We decided that the reputation of our players was not as good as our players are, and we could do small things to improve that,&uot; Stern said in a published report.

It's about time.

And this is not a black or white thing, either. This is a profession thing. And it's unfortunate that guys, who came into the league that were weren't even old enough to buy a beer at a pub, can't understand this.

But that's a column for another day.

It's also a personal pride thing.

I remember covering a basketball team in south Georgia that was preseason ranked in the top 10 in Georgia every year. Their coach told their players that on every road trip that they would wear a dress shirt, tie and blue dress coat.

Some of these kids couldn't even dream of wearing something like that because their parents could barley afford to put food on the table. But somehow, their child did have a dress coat and tie.

Not a single parent complained. And as far as I know that rule stands today. And not a single complaint has been made.

College basketball programs around the country also have the same rule. Some are more strict than others, but you won't see a major college basketball team come into a coliseum not wearing anything other than a shirt and tie or their warm-ups.

If anything, the NBA is catching up with college and high school basketball programs across the country.

And it's about time.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.