Feature

NBA’s dress code

Is it racist?

David Stern has come to his senses, said Shaun Powell in Newsday. For years, the National Basketball Association's marketing-savvy commissioner said nothing as the league's players embraced the worst of hip-hop fashion—'œhead wraps, throwback jerseys, droopy pants, and medallions the size of satellite dishes.' But with TV ratings and attendance dropping, Stern has finally intervened. His tough new dress code, announced last week, calls for players to travel and attend team functions in 'œbusiness casual' attire—sports jackets and slacks. Some players have called the move 'œracist,' suggesting that the only problem with the gangsta look is that it scares white suburban fans. But most fans, black and white, are tired of seeing guys making $8 million a year dress like drug dealers.

What nonsense, said The Philadelphia Inquirer in an editorial. Stern helped build a huge audience for the NBA by exploiting 'œthe love affair' between hoops and urban kids. But now that revenues are declining, Stern is desperately pandering to the prejudices of NBA's 'œwhite fans,' who prefer their African-Americans to look tailored and inoffensive, like Michael Jordan. But a Brooks Brothers blazer 'œis not an emblem of moral fiber,' nor does a baggy shirt and a medallion mean someone's a thug. Take the case of Allen Iverson, the 76ers' star guard. Iverson is covered in tattoos, wears his hair in cornrows, and has real street 'œcred.' But anyone worried about the example Iverson might be setting for the league's young fans should watch the man play ball. Night after night, he throws his 'œslight frame' around the court with true 'œheart and team spirit.' Who cares what he wears after the final horn sounds?

Terence Moore

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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