From The Vault: OK, folks. What happened to the NBA dress code?

Terence Moore

So is the NBA going the OTHER way now?

Yep. Definitely, yep.

Remember The Dress Code?

If you don't, see what I wrote 13 years ago in the column below (Spoiler Alert: I support The Dress Code) and then compare that to the league's announcement this week that it will allow players to spend the season wearing whatever color sneakers they wish. Gone are the days when 51 percent of your footwear in the NBA had to be white or black with at least a hint of your team's official color.

Now that old NASCAR line comes to mind.

Have at it, boys.

Then again, NBA players already have been doing that off the court, where they now are either into the outlandish (ahem) styles of Russell Westbrook during press conferences or back to the Allen Iverson days of wearing T-shirts, fashion-forward stuff and anything other than the suits still worn by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and other old-schoolers.

What a mess, and the NBA's loosening of its strings on sneakers will make it worse.

Well, not worse for the pocketbooks of Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Puma and the rest.


NBA dress code restores sanity to ludicrous image

October 20, 2005

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Terence Moore

What am I missing here regarding this silly whining over the NBA's welcome new dress code? Nothing, because isn't there a line in one of those tight (I got that word from my 14-year-old godson Julian) songs by Jay-Z that says, "Give me a crisp pair of jeans and a button-up?"

Yep. This is the same Jay-Z who is a part owner of the New Jersey Nets. This also is the same Jay-Z who attends games wearing tailored suits. You have Nelly, too, the equally sharp dresser as a part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Which all blows away a couple of myths this week quicker than a fast break. No, commissioner David Stern didn't become the league's Bull Connor with his latest edict involving that dress code. And, no, NBA officials aren't hypocrites after years of merging basketball with hip-hop. All you have to do is review what I just said about Jay-Z and Nelly, and then put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care.

I'm still giddy. After all, Stern did the right thing. I'm sick of walking into locker rooms and press conferences these days and cringing. It may be your right as a big-time athlete to dress as a street hustler or even as Homey the Clown, but you're hurting others. As somebody who works often with youth, I know the truth here: Whether we like it or not, athletes always have been and always will be role models to kids.

The question is: What kind of role models are we talking about?

According to research by Richard E. Lapchick of Central Florida, only one of out of 10,000 high school basketball players will spend a millisecond in the NBA. Even so, Lapchick determined that 59 percent of those youngsters believe they will dribble as a pro someday. Thus is the reason why a slew of them wish to play and dress like their favorite pro athlete. Thus also is the reason why a slew of them don't find real jobs after they fill out applications while wearing their versions of a jumbo cap turned sideways over a do-rag, a throwback jersey and enough bling-bling to make the sun look for shades.

So here's some advice to NBA players who can't stand the thought of shedding the thug look when they are on duty for their teams: Just dress up and shut up. Either that, or find another job that will pay you millions with your desire to do your best Flavor Flav routine.

It's called being professional on and off the court. That's all the NBA is asking players to do. In fact, while performing team or league business, the NBA is asking players to do what most of them were required to do in college. Nice slacks or "a crisp pair of jeans" instead of workout sweats or sagging pants. Dress shoes instead of flip-flops, sneakers or sandals. Collared shirts or sweaters instead of T-shirts or jerseys. No headphones or headgear. Definitely no bling bling over clothing, not even to cover up endless tattoos.

In a rare case of omniscience by the historically clueless Hawks, general manager Billy Knight already was demanding those things of his players, and he did so months before Stern had everybody else in the league follow suit (pun intended). Knight has gone further than his peers. He requires players to wear sports coats on plane trips and while entering and leaving arenas.

This is vintage Allen Iverson during one of his press conferences after an NBA game. .Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBA/Getty Images photo.
This is vintage Allen Iverson during one of his press conferences after an NBA game. .Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBA/Getty Images photo.

You can blame the insufferable Allen Iverson for the start of this sloppy epidemic that has become the rage among pro athletes in general. Prior to Iverson's arrival to the NBA during the late 1990s, players weren't into Keeping It Real, as in Keeping It Real Stupid. They were into Keeping It Classy, as in following Michael Jordan's lead. Not only did he rank as His Airness, but as His Armani. He took dressing beyond presentable all the way to legendary commercials and to an unprecedented Nike deal at the time. Along with Jordan, you had Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Reggie Miller and others serving as examples of how to dress for success.

Stern wants those examples back. So do I, and so do Jay-Z and Nelly. And so should everybody who isn't Ludacris.