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The NBA recovers from a wardrobe malfunction

by Lauren Cartwright

Remember back in the day ‘— in the early ’90s ‘— when the NBA was in its prime with Michael Jordan still burning up the nets? Remember when players argued over bad calls instead of record deals? Remember when Charlotte had the Hornets?

I used to watch NBA games. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson ‘— all heroes that I looked up to when I dribbled on the hardwoods. I played ball before there was a WNBA for young girls to worship. I spent many hours with my teammates trying to dunk. Okay so we never even came close to the rim, but kids can dream. I wanted to be ‘like Mike.’ But I eventually lost my height advantage and decided to take up soccer instead.

Over the years I’ve realized that professional sports aren’t all that grand. The glimmer has been tarnished by the leagues, especially the NBA. I’ve become more of college sports fan, generally cheering for the color of uniforms I like best.

One NBA game I did catch was the infamous brawl, I mean, game between the Pistons and the Pacers last season. I like a good fistfight, but that incident just turned me off of the NBA even more. The most infuriating part was Ron Artest’s attitude of ‘“Oh well, I might be suspended, but now I can promote my rap album.’”

But with the NBA’s commissioner David Stern laying down some rules for his teams, I might have a newfound respect’— no that’s not the right word ‘— how about curiosity for the league. I’ve read that some franchises already have dress codes for their teams, but this ruling encompasses the whole league.

Stern’s rules are set to go into effect on Nov. 1. The guidelines must be adhered to at team functions and includes players having to wear a collared shirt or turtleneck; dress slacks, khaki pants or dress jeans; no sneakers, flip-flops, sandals, or work boots. That means no sunglasses indoors, no headphones, no visible chains or medallions. Ouch. Allen Iverson is going to be very upset.

To these new rules, I say, ‘“Hooray!’”

The few games I have watched in the past decade, players ‘— white, black, European or Asian ‘— look like they’re hanging out in their mansions instead of attending work. Players arriving at the game, sitting on the bench not playing, and leaving after the game should look like the employees of a professional sports league. I think if you make over $3 million a year you should have to wear a clown suit if your bosses tell you to. Just think of it as a luxury tax.

Reportedly, the ruling has been met with mixed reviews. I personally long for the days of Michael Jordan strutting his stuff in one of those fine-ass custom-tailored suits he’s famous for wearing. It’s not like these players can’t afford to dress nicely. I’ve seen ‘“Cribs.’” I know how big those closets are. There has to be at least one suit hanging in there.

One thing that has slipped by the professional players is that being a basketball player is a job. It’s a job that doesn’t last forever, one that a player could find himself out of his contract.

If these players worked at McDonald’s or the Gap they’d be required to wear uniform by the business’s dress code.

Marcus Camby reportedly said the league should give the players a stipend for clothing. Camby plays for $7 million a year with the Denver Nuggets. I guess a pair of $30 Dockers are just too much for ya, huh, Marcus?

I would be grateful if I even could play for one season of their contract. Hell, maybe even one game.

I know they make a ton of cheddar, but just how much? Let’s look at Shaquille O’Neal of the Miami Heat. As the 2004-05 top earner, he roped in a cool $27,696,430. That’s more money than I’ll make in my entire life. That income doesn’t count endorsements and investments O’Neal has made outside of the NBA. Forbes claims he’s worth $80,821 a day. Again, what I make roughly in three years he makes in one day.

O’Neal has also released three CDs and starred in a movie, Kazaam, which I may be the only person in Greensboro to have seen. Disclaimer: I was 16 and the two brats I babysat insisted on seeing it. And it wasn’t that bad.

At Womack Newspapers, the Employee Handbook states that employees should dress in a professional manner. Not that anyone strictly adheres to it, but we do have one. I think anyone who is representing a company should dress in a respectful manner. By respectful, I mean something that your parents would approve of.

For whatever reason ‘— out of respectability or because everyone else has to wear nice clothes to work, I think ZZ Top said it best, ‘“Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man.’”

To comment on this column, e-mail Lauren at lauren@yesweekly.com.

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