I am not happy to admit this, but I have recently worn the same pair of shorts to work for three consecutive days.
Oh, I changed the underwear and t-shirts. But the shorts are just my favorites. Fit nice and loose, good pockets. I'm sure you have a pair like this yourself.
And since I work in radio, in the mostly pre-dawn, pre-business day hours, nobody cares. The warm Washington summer days are coming quickly to an end (yes, I know it's already cold for you guys in Milwaukee), and I figure I'm gonna wear these suckers out until the leaves fall and my knees start quivering.
Life is pretty good that way. Not as good, however, if somebody were to offer me a raise of $12 million per year. You can dress me up in a clown suit at that price.
Pity the poor NBA player. His boss has come down with a new "office policy." Dress up. Or pay up. I'm sure you have heard about it already, unless you are officially dead as a sports fan. In over 14 years in sports radio, I can never remember an issue of such non-consequence to the game itself having ever garnered as much airtime, column inches, or anger all around as this.
And the millionaires seemed to be the angriest of anybody. You should have heard them protest this past week. It was about as bad as a 14 year old girl whose mom just vetoed the belly-button exposing pair of hot-pants as "school clothes."
Talk about strange bedfellows, too! Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan, finally found a cause they could rally around. Iverson from the nation of tattooed street-hip, and Duncan from the breezy world of island-casual, equally abhorred the thought of putting on some "Sunday best."
Meanwhile, Spike Lee and Charles Barkley also agreed. Agreed that David Stern's "Men's Warehouse Manifesto" was a GOOD THING! What were the Vegas odds on that?
Spike Lee told The Washington Post in an interview:
"I think David Stern was right on this issue. What are all those kids wearing the night they're drafted and they shake (the commissioner's) hand? Suits. In corporate America, you have dress codes. Let's be honest: Image is everything. And they're trying to change the image of the league. Between the fight in Detroit last year and other perceptions, they've realized they have a public relations issue. They've set out to change it."
Charles Barkley told the Los Angeles Times ...
"Young black kids dress like NBA players. Unfortunately, they don't get paid like NBA players. So when they go out in the real world, what they wear is held against them. If a well-dressed white kid and a black kid wearing a 'do-rag and throwback jersey came to me in a job interview, I'd hire the white kid. That's reality."
Now, I'd call those opinions pretty well thought out, and on point. Made by two black men, not afraid to mince words.
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?
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.
Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.
A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.