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In Sports

NBA dress code controversy barely worth commentary (but here it is)


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The following players, however, couldn't quite get their head around it, revealing a petulance and illogic normally reserved for teenagers.

Tim Duncan called it "retarded."

Allen Iverson vowed to "fight it." (With what? A broadsword and chainmail?)

Stephen Jackson called it "racist." (Let's see ... Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson and Stephen Jackson. Yep, that works.)

Brevin Knight called it "extreme." (Extremely childish, on his part, that is.)

Marcus Camby asked for a clothing "stipend." (On the take at UMass, still on the take in the NBA.)

Tyronn Lue, obviously missing the point, insisted it wouldn't help one's play. (Hmm. Really?)

And then there was this doozey from Raja Bell of the Phoenix Suns ...

"I understand they are making it out to make us look more corporate and big business," he told the USA Today. "But we don't really sell to big business. We sell to kids and people who are into the hip-hop world. They may be marketing to the wrong people with this."

Yeah. OK, Raja. Practice is at 10 a.m. We'll see you then. Thanks.

A quick check of the NBA business model will show that the league is very much in bed with "big business" and its big dollars. If not for Nike, Coke, Ford and McDonalds, I sincerely doubt that a journeyman like Bell could be signed to a five-year, $20 million guaranteed deal.

But they are, and he did. What a great country, huh?

Average ticket prices cost more than four times that of a movie in theaters. The cost of a luxury suite ($100,000 per season, or more) can only be absorbed by eccentric millionaires or (wait for it ...) "big business" as a write off for client schmoozing. The notion that the NBA's bread is being buttered by the hip-hop generation is absurd.

Given a choice, what do you think a 20-something hip-hop fan would rather spend his hard earned $50 on?

a. The New York Knicks vs. the Charlotte Bobcats, viewed alone from the mid-to-upper deck, score around 82-80, finished and gone in two hours and six minutes?

OR

b. One of the following. A new pair of baggy jeans. Three new DVD movies. Four new albums worth of music on iTunes. A new Xbox game of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Twenty-five new ringtones of their favorite rapper's latest hits. Or approximately 500 text-messages to buddies and girlfriends on their cell phones saying "What R U doin' 2nite, dawg?"

Bell is right in one regard, this is about money. The NBA could care a lick about whether kids today are being aced out of job interviews because they are emulating the All-Star Bling they see on TV.

And the NBA doesn't make much money from throwback jerseys or diamond encrusted pendants. They don't make money from kids who only like Carmelo Anthony just because he lists a certain rapper as his "favorite." They don't make money from sneaker companies when they come out with a "Vince Carter" line of high-tops.

The NBA makes money primarily at the turnstile and at the glossy-topped 25-foot conference table where television deals are struck. Truth be told, the embrace of hip-hop as a viable marketing strategy has been a flop. Otherwise they would be doing more of it, and not less.

Some will call the NBA hypocritical for this dress code, since the league itself seemed fully immersed in the hip-hop world the last five to 10 years. But they would be wrong, since being a hypocrite means saying one thing, and doing another. This move makes the NBA's new direction crystal clear.

It is perhaps the first of several moves which come from the recognition that the NBA might have been helping Jay-Z sell albums, but he wasn't really sending any of his fans to see Grizzlies-Magic on a Tuesday night.

All is not lost for NBA players suddenly confronted with the challenge of finding nice matching clothes to wear that fits the new dress code. Remember "Garanimals" when you were a kid? Well, the company still exists (www.garanimals.com) and had this little blurb about the company concept:

Garan Incorporated created fashionable mix-and-match clothing separates with coordinated hang-tags called "Garanimals." The kid-friendly Garanimals hang-tag system made it easy for young children to select their own clothes, dress themselves, and through these small, successful decisions, develop early feelings of self confidence. Moms loved the fool-proof simplicity. Kids loved the grown up feeling of making their own choices.

Tell Iverson to start "Answerables" for adults, and I'm sure he'd make a mint.

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Talkbacks

OMCreader | Dec. 2, 2005 at 5:18 p.m. (report)

racer x said: exactly! the people dont matter to a business, its all about the money. if the nba can kepp / attract more sponsors, we all know they're happy.

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OMCreader | Nov. 4, 2005 at 12:10 p.m. (report)

Abe said: TO WTF... If you had news media following you on your travel routes and showing pictures of you arriving at work, you better believe that your employer would be mandating what appearance you present at those times. To the athletes... you poor, overpaid souls. Must be rough getting paid millions to do what the rest of us spend our FREETIME doing for fun.

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OMCreader | Nov. 2, 2005 at 1:11 p.m. (report)

Denise said: If the players have to dress up for practice, big deal. I mean they get to dress however they want in the off season. Kids need to be able to look up to them. Our kids need more positive role models.. They get paid so much they should be happy to do that. By the way GO BUCKS< Last nite Rocked!!

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OMCreader | Nov. 2, 2005 at 12:19 p.m. (report)

JJ said: I think that the players should be able to dress however they want. They are the ones that play the game and bring in the money. Also most of the players come from inner cities envoiroments where that is how it is known to dress. I don't think that it is fair that someone wants to change a players apperence that is part of who they are. Fans love them even though they dress in baggie clothes and have their hair braided. It doesn't matter to us as long as they can play the game of basketball not the game of dress up. One more thing if kids are going to interviews dressed all "ghetto" that is on there parents and just common sense by the individual.

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OMCreader | Oct. 29, 2005 at 1:35 a.m. (report)

Middle class white guy said: Chester - Do news men follow you around all day with cameras when you're not at work? When people talk about you do they preface your name with your title like "ABC Corporation accountant..."? The players union agreed to this in the collective bargaining agreement. They want to increase the percentage of their cut, but they don't want to make any sacrifices to get it. All their anger is misdirected. If they're unhappy with the dress code, they should direct their anger at their union representative, Billy Hunter. All the contempt for David Stern is misguided. He represents the NBA, not the players. When they sit down at the bargaining table, he's the enemy.

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