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LOVE AND BASKETBALL

A Woman’s Fashion Sense on the NBA Dress Code…

I love a man in a suit! No offense to the short brothers out there but there is nothing like a tall specimen of a man, draped in something tailored, pressed and pinstriped. Egyptian cotton shirt and silk tie, Ferragamos on his feet – you just know that brother smells good!

On the other hand, here comes the next man: baggy pants wearing, XXXL shirt, boots, doo-rag and baseball fitted to the side, iced up from his ears to his waistline and ladies are exorcist-twisting their necks to get a second look. Yes people, he looks good to us, too!

The problem with mainstream culture is that they have yet to understand that Black people are just as multi-faceted as the next; though we may share the same ethnicity and culture doesn’t mean we appeal to one viewpoint. Why even in this new millennium we continue to be blanketed together as one people instead of looked upon as freethinking individuals remains a notion that is both inconceivable and a travesty. This is the very reason why I believe the National Basketball Association’s recent dress code goes so much deeper than spoiled players and a soiled image, but reeks more of forced assimilation with racist overtones.

Surprising to the masses, Black folks remain extremely divided on this very issue. Some believe that the NBA is no different than any other corporation, and if it dictates that business attire is warranted, then so be it. But is the NBA really like any other corporation?

It is said that the one with the gold makes the rules. In the NBA, the franchise players are the draw, and without these talented athletes, the NBA would not be the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. Although these players’ salaries seem enormous to the average person, it is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the wealth obtained by the team owners and the organization itself. One could not survive without the other. This sounds more like an equal playing field to me. In some form or fashion, no pun intended, everyone makes the gold; therefore, everyone should have a hand in making the rules.

Let’s be clear: I have no problem with a dress code. The exclusion of specific items that have a representation of a particular facet of urban culture is what I find to be offensive. Once again, I felt the societal hatred of the Black man and everything he represents rear its ugly head, and even in a profession where Black men dominate physically, they must be reminded of their place. The dress code substantiates that ever-present White superiority complex that comes with the fear of the Black urban male – that “look” that deems him a thug, instead of one who may have beat insurmountable odds to get to such a pivotal point in life. Considering the past circumstances of some professional basketball players, the fact that they even reach adulthood should be applauded. Track suit or tailored suit, I know I wouldn’t feel threatened if Allen Iverson was in the ATM vestibule with me, or walking toward me on a dark street. Would you? And in the indictment era of Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski, Tom DeLay and Scooter Libby to name a few, it has become imminently clear that thugs wear suits, too. Who was more dapper than John Gotti?

Sadly, I question if we should feel sorry for or respect this new breed of athlete. Gone are the days of Muhammad Ali, who was stripped of his title during his peak boxing years because of his refusal to fight what he believed to be an unjust war. Or Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who threw their black gloved fists in the air during the 1968 Olympics in protest of racism in America. These were athletes who took a stand at their own personal expense. Unfortunately it seems as if the high salaries earned by the modern black athlete is more representative of “porch monkey” money than for their considerable talent and personal empowerment.

Where would the NBA be if the franchise players joined in solidarity and refused to play another game until their rights as men of color were respected? This is about more than the clothes they choose to wear or how they choose to address each other – it is their character and dignity that is being questioned. I feel like Ashton Kucher is going to jump out any minute in a David Stern suit: “Player – you just been punk’d.”

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