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Faceoff

Do you like the NBA's new dress code:

By Times staff writers
Published October 30, 2005


WHERE BETTER TO START CLEANING UP AN ACT?

Revenues are down. TV ratings are low. And fans haven't taken to Kobe, Shaq and LeBron the way they did Michael, Larry and Magic. Let's face it, the NBA needs a makeover. And a dress code is a good start.

Players are role models, and the way they dress largely determines how they're perceived. The attire worn in recent years has been described by the New York Post as "looking like recruitment officers for the Bloods and Crips." Lakers coach Phil Jackson calls it "prison garb."

Business casual attire won't erase the memory of Kobe Bryant's rape trial or the Pacers-Pistons brawl. But it might make the league more palatable to the corporate businessmen and women it is trying to attract while giving young fans professionals to emulate.

It isn't asking more of players than many teams already do. The Blazers and Knicks have had strict rules regulating pre- and postgame attire.

But don't just take my word for it.

"This is a job," said the Cavaliers' LeBron James, "and we should look like we're going to work."

- FRANK PASTOR

IT FAILS TO FIX LEAGUE'S REAL IMAGE PROBLEM

The NBA's dress code is a red herring. The league figures it has an image problem, and it is correct. But this doesn't address the problem.

Players already are required to conform to a code, on the court. If players are professionals on the court and good citizens in their communities, how many will care how they dress off the court?

One interesting aspect of the code is the exceptions. Players may wear T-shirts, jerseys or other sports apparel as long as they're team-identified and approved by the franchise. Gee, could it be that the league saw players wearing throwback jerseys for different sports and recognized it was missing a marketing opportunity? Hey, kids, look at the new Sixers gear we're making Allen Iverson wear! Don't you want some?

Does the NBA really think this is going to matter? Would suits fix a game still healing from last season's Pacers-Pistons brawl and other image problems?

And why now? Why is the league instituting this when fans should be talking about the upcoming season? Instead, what they're talking about is clothes, not the men who wear them.