An employer has the right, and an expectation, to determine appropriate attire when a worker is on the job or representing the company. As tennis player Andre Agassi made clear in those camera commercials back when he had hair, “Image is everything.”
So we were not surprised when NBA Commissioner David Stern invoked a dress code for players. Some players have grumbled (to be expected), some have said the decision smacks of racism (ridiculous) and others welcome the change. Of course, the award for most ridiculous reaction goes to Marcus Camby of the Denver Nuggets:
‘‘I don’t see it happening unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes,’’ Camby told the Rocky Mountain News. ‘‘Guys who haven’t been wearing suits and don’t own suits, it will be really hard to get them in time for the season.’’
Note that Camby will make $7.2 million this season. There likely are a couple of tailors in Colorado who would be happy to take care of him.
The NBA is a business that has seen its profits and television ratings wane in the post-Michael Jordan era. Its traditional fan base feels alienated from the players more than ever before, so league officials are doing what they can to hold onto the fans they have and try to win back those who left. Younger fans are fine, but the NBA needs some of that old money to keep the ball bouncing.
Sportcoats and socks won’t do it alone, but it seems like an OK place to start. All the NBA is doing is treating its employees the same way businesses across the country do. Maybe the shocking thing for many players is that this is the first time they have been treated like everyone else