Indianapolis, IN (AHN) - The NBA's lastest announcement against "bling-bling" in players' dress code has some in the league raising questions of racism. Indiana guard Stephen Jackson believes the new ban is racially motivated, demonstrating the league's fear of becoming "too hip-hop."
The NBA's new dress code will go into effect at the start of the season. Players will be required to wear business-casual attire when involved in team or league business and are prohibited from wearing visible chains, pendants or medallions over their clothes. Jackson, who is black, feels the new anti-jewelry rule specifically targets young black males because chains are associated with hip-hop culture. In protest, he wore four chains to the Pacers' exhibition game against San Antonio on Tuesday night.
Jackson defended his actions the next day, saying, "They don't want your chains to be out, all gaudy and shiny. But that's the point of them. I love wearing my jewelry. But I love my job. I love playing basketball more than I love getting fined and getting suspended."
Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce supports Jackson's accusations, saying, "When I saw the part about chains, hip hop and throwback jerseys, I think that's part of our culture. The NBA is young black males."
Golden State guard Jason Richardson adds, "They want to sway away from the hip-hop generation. You still wear a suit, you still could be a crook. Hey, a guy could come in with baggy jeans, a do-rag and have a Ph.D., and a person who comes in with a suit could be a three-time felon. So, it's not what you wear, it's how you present yourself."
Jackson first publicly announced his disagreement with the new rule Tuesday. He says he hasn't heard from the league office, and doesn't expect to, "I still have freedom of speech, don't I? I didn't disrespect anybody by saying it, so I can say what I want to say."
I say "Get over it!"
The idea that being forced to dress up has anything to do with racism is beyond ridiculous. So maybe David Stern is a greedy, capitalist pig, but racist? Gimme' a break. First of all, Stern didn't just wake one day and "make up" a new rule, he simply "enforced" a rule that already existed in the current NBA/Players Association contract. If the players were THAT upset about it, they shouldn't have accepted the rule as a part of their latest Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NBA.
Secondly, since it took root, the NBA, like the NFL has become a global phenomenon that transcends national boundaries. With 29 teams in both the U.S. and Canada, NBA games and related programming are broadcast to 206 countries in 42 languages. The league is also one of the largest suppliers of sports television and Internet programming in the world. While corporate America, of which the NBA is a part, loves the demographics and numbers hip-hop represents, there's a lot of baggage that comes with it. Like when Nelly became part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, it created a dicey situation in that now you had an NBA owner who also endorses a beverage called "Pimp Juice". I'm sorry, but nothing about a pimp should be put on a pedestal and I'm not the only one who feels that way.
Lastly, when it comes to the "infringement" of their precious Hip-Hop attire, NBA players have to take part of blame. Think about it. Recently, there was the Artest-led fight in Detroit last year, an ugly scene seen worldwide that did nothing to help the league's image in some sectors of the world that sees it as strictly being young, Black and out-of-control.
Think too about the responsibility NBA players refuse to take part in when it comes to the obsession over material items that leads to kids still killing kids so they too can have one of the "big chains" Stephen Jackson wears. Think too that a huge chunk of Michael Jordan's legacy lies in the fact that MJ was a winner, so the NBA had plenty of leverage in marketing Jordan and making him the face of the league. For all his talent, Allen Iverson shouldn't be complaining about th edress code because while he may be the original hip-hop/basketball-playing icon, he still remains a selfish ball-hog who has never won anything team-oriented in his life.
Then again this whole "dress code is racist" drama isn't that big of a deal in the first place considering that we're only talking about wearing a collar for 10-minute press conferences, traveling from the bus to the lockerroom and also while your seated on the bench because you can't play due to injury (mind you, while STILL getting paid). Doesn't seem too harsh to me. Or as Carmelo Anthony, who wears one of the NBA's most popular jersey's, said: "I guess Jay-Z said it best: 'Real recognize real.' I think hip-hop has become so popular because it's real. When cats like me hear hip-hop songs, it's like, 'Man, I went through that. We can relate.' When suburban kids hear it they feel they're broadening their horizons. They want to know what's going on, they want to be down. People say I'm real, and while part of that is my personality, I think listening to hip-hop all my life has had a lot to do with it. Like hip-hop, our generation links with the streets. That's why, as a player, it's important to keep your street credibility. But you've got to know how to balance when you can be street and when you should be a businessman. There's a time and a place for everything."