When NBA commissioner David Stern indicated that a dress code would be instituted for all NBA players in public, requiring a collared shirt, sport coat, and no jeans - many fans rejoiced. Predictably, though, a majority of players groaned.
It will be interesting to see how the notoriously dressed-down Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers will react. Soon, he will not have the freedom to wear his do-rag, chains, baggy shirts and pants, and expose his numerous tattoos on the streets as his peers do.
David Stern must know what he is doing, though. By emulating Iverson and others, can you imagine millions of kids in the inner-cities discarding their hip-hop attire while aspiring to buy expensive Armani suits? Expect gangs and the drug-culture to soon evaporate as a result of basketball celebrities conversion to the GQ look.
Dont worry, though, we dont have to worry about the prospect of an army of identical business-types marching around everywhere, because only the affluent can afford to buy expensive formal clothes. Economic divisions in American society will be emphasized more than ever, but at least some of us will appear clean-cut and professional.
David Stern probably realizes that many of us want the NBA and society in general to return to that bygone era of the fifties when pro players were proud to dress in business suits and speak humbly in public.
That was a glorious era when players had no say in which team employed them, African-Americans were allowed to play only grudgingly, and each player was forced into accepting any subsistence-level salary offered by management. Oh, those were the days, my friend.
Dress codes remind me of my school days in the 1960s.
I remember the boys who attended the local Catholic schools were each forced to wear a white shirt and dark pants on the school grounds. Many of them stuffed that damn white shirt in a locker at the end of each day and finally brought the school uniform home on the last day of each school year for its annual washing. My Catholic buddies took great pride in how stiff and discolored their shirts became over the school year.
In my own case, I remember the exact moment I took an interest in my clothes - it was on the 8th grade basketball court. I was wearing a yellow, cotton shirt that exposed sweat rings under my arms to the entire student population. For a couple of years, I imagined everyone was discussing my adult-like body odor and vowed to wear shirts that hid perspiration stains and to sit at the back of each classroom. I dont remember liking Junior High School much.
Since then, except for a bizarre period when I enjoyed wearing only 3-piece wool suits with silk ties, I have strived for comfort in my clothing ensembles. Other than the urgent fashion consulting of my mother, sister, and now my wife, I feel fortunate to live in an era without Nazi-like dress standards.
There is nothing wrong with dressing up, but David Stern is part of a bygone era that believes clothing defines a persons character. So, before enacting any dress code, he should be forced to wear the same white shirt day after day after day...