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Published: Friday, 10/21/2005

A little less 'bling'

THE new dress code for National Basketball Association players won't change the world. But it will make it look a lot better.

As of Nov. 1, Commissioner David Stern says there will be no more dress-down days for NBA players. Those who wear hip-hop and otherwise casual attire will have to leave it home. That includes the "bling" - the flashy medallions, chains, and pendants. Players must wear business clothes going to and from games, and during press conferences and promotional appearances. Injured players who don't dress for a game will have to wear a sport coat as they sit on the bench.

The commissioner says the NBA has an image problem, and he's right. Basketball is family entertainment, and the players' appearance generally gives "casual" a bad name. For the most part, NBA players earning six- and seven-figure salaries look as though they are about to mow the lawn, not go before the public on national TV.

It's not just Mr. Stern or the corporate-types at NBA headquarters who want NBA players to appear more professional. The Atlanta Hawks already have a new dress code that requires a sport jacket when traveling and as they enter and leave arenas before and after games.

The NBA finally joins the National Hockey League and the National Football League in implementing a dress code and requiring a more polished appearance. Major league baseball teams set their own policies.

Not surprisingly, some players don't like the idea. They claim that younger fans will lose interest. Maybe not. Kids love to emulate their sports idols; some might actually follow the stars' lead.

Any NBA player who resists the idea - Philadelphia 76ers superstar Allen Iverson may be tempted to try - will face fines and possibly suspension. And players should forget pushing for a clothing allowance. Those guys make enough money to buy their own clothing store.

Now that Commissioner Stern has resolved the off-court issue, we have another question.

When it's game time, do these guys really have to wear "shorts" that reach almost to their ankles?



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