The little, indie bookstores I usually go to don't carry ESPN the Mag, but I was waiting for someone at Barnes & Noble yesterday and this picture of Dwight Howard caught my eye. The cover story, "Above the Rim, Beyond the Arc" by Ric Bucher, is a really interesting revisit to the controversial-at-the-time NBA dress code and how opinions and behaviors have changed since then.
Beyond just their physical appearance, players have re-examined their lifestyles and perceptions. Bucher writes,
"Times have changed. Players not only have rethought what they wear, they've also rethought what they drive and eat. Gone are the days of a player hopping out of an Escalade with 24-inch spinning rims and tinted windows that rattle from the beat of the speaker box. Now the car is likely to be a dark-colored sedan or SUV with standard equipment...You can also find players circling the team buffet, casually mentioning the egg-white omelet and protein shake their personal chef whipped up for them that morning."
Players have also started thinking broadly and more long-term. Shane Battier says, "Guys want to be players and businessmen. And they understand you have to look the part. They're more sophisticated."
The most interesting part of the article was the key figure cited as, if not integral, definitely influential in effecting this change - and it's not Barack Obama. It's Hova himself, Jay-Z. We know Jay's influenced Lebron directly, but who knew he influenced the entire league indirectly. Bucher writes,
"And when Jay-Z turned in his Yankees cap and white T's for French-cuffed shirts and three-piece suits, tailors with NBA clientele noticed. 'Guys started buying a ton of woven dress shirts to wear with cuff links,' says designer Cary Mitchell. Teams steal defensive schemes; players eye what others are rocking. 'It's a copycat league,' says Mitchell."
Other owners better hope and pray Jay's influence is solely sartorial and won't affect where players want to play, ie Brooklyn. I think it's hilarious though that this designer calls the players out as copycats.
Another benefit to the dress code was that it bridged one divide between the Americans and the Europeans. Some of the Europeans felt mocked for their choice of clothing, which tends toward close-fitting, but now, that's the style 'round the league.
Time was when Warriors center Andris Biedrins thought he was getting dap when someone said, "That suit is tight." But that was "tight" as in "too small," not as in "That looks sharp." No more. Says Hawks center Zaza Pachulia: "Euro style used to be a bad thing. Now guys like it."
If only other conflicts could be so easily defused. Anyway, check out the story. It's really interesting. One other thing - the Blazers provide a personal chef to rookies whose moms aren't accompanying them to Portland. How cool is that!!!!