David Stern has done a lot for the NBA, but over the last year I fear he's gone of the deep end. First, there was his reaction to the Pacers-Pistons Fans melee. Yes, Artest, and especially Stephen Jackson needed to get punished, but the racial element was ugly, obvious, and completely ignored by the league. White fans threw beer, popcorn, pieces of the damn stadium, and probably some unsavory epithets at the players, but its the black players who are made out to be monsters? Please. My reaction was the same as Greg Anthony and Tim Legler's intial reaction - the 'fans' were at fault, yes, Artest overreacted, but you come on the court, or throw something on the court, well TFB. (Of course the league muzzled both Legs and GA and forced them to recant their first responses. Trust me, I was watching the game, and that's what they said 10 minutes after it happened...). In Europe, the Pistons would have played there next 3 or so home games in an empty gym. That's what happened to soccer club AS Roma when one of their fans drilled the ref in the head with a coin.
Next there was the minimum age thing. Now, I tend to agree with Stern's thought that younger players are impacting quality of play, but really isn't it the fault of the teams for drafting Kwame Browns and Darius Miles instead of Shane Battiers and Shawn Marions?
Finally, there is the David's new 'business casual' dress code. Look, you don't have to be Stephen A. Smith to see this as racial. Stephen Jackson himself took shots at the policy (of course, one could easily respond to him that the policy is not aimed at young black males, its aimed at YOU, knucklehead), but then, so did Tim Duncan, hardly the stereotype of the Angry Black Male. Leaguewide reaction has been mixed, with good points being made in favor of some sort of dress code. I completely understand the coat-and-tie thing on the bench for games if one is not playing. But honestly, who gives a flying rats arse what players where into and out of the gym? Strangely, Wally-World has the best take: "I think they're coming on way too strict. Movie stars in L.A., they're not always in jackets and ties, and they're setting trends, and we're looked at in the same light." Easy there, tiger. When it comes to fashion, I think Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson, and Michael Olowokandi just like the next guy...
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com gets it about right in his blog. Some of his better (facetious) suggestions:
• Cornrows and dreadlocks must go. And on the QT (quiet tip), we're sending out private memos that strongly suggest players wear Afros. Not huge Dr. J, "Power-to-the-People" Afros, but moderate, neatly combed 'fros that are completely without Black Power connotations. (Note to Ben Wallace: Buy a pick, but not a fist pick or one of those red, black and green joints that fold up. And don't even think about getting a Rake.) White and Asian players must wear their hair like Richie Cunningham or Potsie Weber.
• Each player will be limited to one between-the-leg dribble per game and one crossover move per week. Teams must pass the ball five times before attempting a shot, and And1 sneakers are forbidden.
• Black uniforms are being eliminated, and NBA-team throwback jerseys, headbands, baseball caps and bomber jackets are being discontinued. In their place we will sell team-logo cowboy hats and matching boots. A pair of free Wrangler jeans and a Pat Boone CD will be given to the first 50 buyers at each game.
• Stuart Scott is forbidden from doing highlights of NBA action until he completes one full year in a hip-hop rehab center, preferably one in Montana or Idaho.
• Stephen A. Smith must stop yelling, take the bass out of his voice and smile more, or quite frankly, we'll fine players for appearing on his show.
And leaving the last word to the Geeze, "What did Bill Belichick have to say about it?"
Dress for success, clearly...