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Courageous Clothes Rebels

The players in the National Basketball Association will not be allowed to wear pendants or medallions over their clothes.

"Yeah, but, Coach, it's just a little one. Nobody's gonna see it when we get off the plane. And besides, it's religious."

The players in the National Basketball Association will not be allowed to wear sleeveless shirts.

"Yeah, but, Coach, what about my free speech, man? My tattoos are my message, and if I'm wearing sleeves, nobody's gonna get the message, except for the one on my neck. And that would be an incomplete message. I don't want anybody misinterpreting what I'm about."

The players in the National Basketball Association will not be allowed to wear sunglasses while indoors.

"Yeah, but, coach, the lights at the press conference are bright, man. And these sun glasses weren't cheap. When my agent told me the company that makes 'em would pay me to wear 'em, he said they retail for six hundred dollars. How can anybody say that's not dressing well?"

The players in the National Basketball Association will no longer be allowed to wear headphones other than on the team bus or plane, or in the team locker room.

"Say what, Coach? Can't hear you, man."

As a secondary school student forty and more years ago, I recognized the school's dress code as a bad idea. So did the guy whose idea of abiding by the coat-and-tie rule was showing up for class without a shirt.

But at least the school sort of had an excuse: we were kids. Maybe we couldn't be counted on to dress rationally. The N.B.A. has no such excuse. The players are all adults...or at least they are all being paid as adults, which, in our culture, amounts to the same thing.

That the commissioner regards the men playing the game as incompetent to decide how to dress would be merely silly if it weren't for the fact that imposing the dress code will provoke stupid and distracting confrontations throughout the league, not to mention charges of paternalism and worse.

Does Mr. Stern really want to create a brave, new world in which a player wandering to work in a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals may be seen as a courageous rebel?

This program aired on October 21, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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