How to beat the NBA dress code.

How to beat the NBA dress code.

How to beat the NBA dress code.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Oct. 21 2005 11:32 AM

Fashion Victims

How NBA players can get around the league's awful new dress code.

Download the MP3 audio version of the authors reading this story here, or sign up to get all of Slate's free daily podcasts.

If I add a tie, will you call this a suit? Click on image to enlarge.
If I add a tie, will you call this a suit?

On Tuesday, Commissioner David Stern revealed the dos and don'ts of the NBA's new dress code. At press conferences and the like, players must wear "business casual" attire: a dress shirt and/or sweater, slacks or "dress jeans," and "dress shoes, dress boots, or other presentable shoes." At games, players who aren't in uniform must wear a sport coat. And there are a few items that are expressly forbidden when conducting "league business": shorts, "jerseys or sports apparel," "headgear of any kind," "chains, pendants, or medallions worn over the … clothes," and "sunglasses while indoors."

Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson, for one, zeroed in on the league's ban on jewelry and medallions. While covered in more ice than Brando in Superman, Jackson argued that the league is singling out hip-hop culture. And he's right. These restrictions only serve to chip away at the unique style that the game has helped to cultivate.

Advertisement

But fear not, NBA players. With every rule, there's a loophole. We've dug deep and figured out how you can accept this dress code and still retain your individuality.

Embrace the suit: This is not 1957. Today, a suit can mean a lot of things. Commissioner Stern of all people should know that. He stands at the podium every draft day and watches the basketball youth take the stage wearing mustard-colored blazers and fire-engine-red waistcoats. And those aren't even the European players. Put it this way: We've seen Cedric the Entertainer wear a suit without sleeves before. There's room for creativity here.

Stay true to your region: Business casual has different connotations in different parts of the country. We say, use geography to your advantage. In San Antonio, you could don a pair of chaps—over dress jeans, of course. At Golden State, a stone's throw from the Castro in San Francisco, slip into a pair of leather pants. If you're not planning on standing up for any reason, cut out the cheeks and let your rebellion breathe a little. Indiana Pacers, pick up a pair of overalls. Just make sure they're dress overalls. You know, the kind you would wear to a formal farming function.

Go retro: We're not just talking about taking it back, we're talking about taking it way back. The dress code says nothing about powdered wigs or makeup. Throw on that removable mole and you're on your way to turning the basketball court into an Elizabethan court.

Advertisement

Use your heads: Headgear not allowed? Bring back the visor. While a visor does boast a brim, we believe that it is technically not a hat as it does not satisfy the main hat qualification: covering your head. In reality, it is more akin to the headband. Hell, accountants wear visors, and it does not get more straight-laced than that.

Accessorize: No medallions, no problem. You need your bling, put it on an earring. Want us to rhyme one more time? Fine. If it's telling time, where's the crime? Bring back the pocket watch and chain. Get your medallion fix while letting everybody know "what time it is."

Make your injury work for you: Riding the pine with a torn ACL? Walk that one off with a diamond-encrusted cane. We're talking about your health here. You'd be surprised what an emerald-studded walking cast can do for a nasty case of plantar fasciitis.

Give yourself props: Bump that folding chair up a notch. Who says you can't sit on a throne and go from a Sacramento King to the king of Sacramento? And get yourself a pair of pumas. We're not talkin' sneakers here—those are on the don't list. After a tough loss, stroll to the press conference while flanked by two adult female pumas. Then we'll see if that beat writer chastises you about the fade away three-pointer you took in overtime.

Get the fans involved: They need a dress code more than the players. To the fat guy in Row 17 (of every arena): If you're going to wear a sleeveless jersey, either pull a Pat Ewing and put on a gray undershirt or invest in a supportive brassiere.

Now, let's imagine how this will all play out. It's February, the Pistons are facing the Pacers, and a glass of chardonnay spills onto Ron Artest's green-pinstriped, short-sleeved suit. He tosses off his visor and storms into the crowd wielding a ruby-tipped scepter. Instead of throwing a punch, he'll simply unhook the chardonnay-spiller's bra and ask for an apology. Because it would be hard to justify hitting a fat guy wearing a monocle.