Richardson says dress code targets black players

Updated: October 19, 2005, 10:50 PM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jason Richardson wants to keep wearing his chains, and the Golden State Warriors guard believes the NBA's new dress code takes aim at black players in the league.

Jason Richardson

He is calling for the players' association to fight the new wardrobe rules announced this week that will go into effect when the season kicks off next month.

"They want to sway away from the hip-hop generation," Richardson said Wednesday night before the Warriors played the Phoenix Suns in a preseason game. "You think of hip-hop right now and think of things that happen like gangs having shootouts in front of radio stations.

"One thing to me that was kind of racist was you can't wear chains outside your clothing. I don't understand what that has to do with being business approachable. ... You wear a suit, you still could be a crook. You see all what happened with Enron and Martha Stewart. Just because you dress a certain way doesn't mean you're that way. Hey, a guy could come in with baggy jeans, a 'do rag and have a Ph.D. and a person who comes in with a suit could be a three-time felon."

Players will be required to wear business-casual attire when involved in team or league business. They can't wear visible chains, pendants or medallions over their clothes.

The NBA announced Monday in a memo to teams that a dress code will go into effect at the start of the season. Saying players must dress in "business casual" attire, the league banned items such as sleeveless shirts, shorts, sunglasses while indoors, and headphones during team or league business.

The policy also requires players on the bench not in uniform to wear sport jackets, shoes and socks.

Indiana guard Stephen Jackson, who like Richardson is black, agrees that the policy is trying to keep players from expressing their hip-hop style. Boston's Paul Pierce shares the sentiment.

In protest, Jackson wore four chains to the Pacers' exhibition game against San Antonio on Tuesday night.

Jackson defended his actions Wednesday, but said he won't allow his feelings to cause a distraction once the regular season starts.

"They don't want your chains to be out, all gaudy and shiny. But that's the point of them," he said. "I love wearing my jewelry. But I love my job. I love playing basketball more than I love getting fined and getting suspended."

Richardson has always liked to express himself with his funky attire. Now, he knows he will be wearing his suits much more often.

He doesn't mind the league mandate for "cleaning up" the bench, but believes a large number of players make their way to and from their cars away from the public view, so they should be able to wear what they want.

"You're expressing yourself, expressing your identity. It's taking away our self expression. I like to dress and change it up," Richardson said. "Some of them have religious meanings behind their chains, others have personal messages behind their chains. Some guys just like to wear them. I think that was an indirectly racial."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press