Dress code reactions 'amuse' Stern

Updated: November 2, 2005, 9:49 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- His two-piece navy blue suit was accented nicely by a white dress shirt and diagonally striped silk tie.

LeBron James
AP Photo/Mark DuncanLeBron had no problems with the dress code on the Cavaliers opening night.

Like his players, NBA commissioner David Stern attended a game adhering to his own dress policy.

"Allen [Iverson] last night said 'This is what I'm wearing the rest of the season, it's over,"' Stern said. "Well, this is what I'm wearing the rest of the season, it's over."

Before Wednesday night's game between the Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets, Stern addressed several topics with reporters, spending most of interview session discussing the newly implemented dress code.

Stern said he was amused by all the fuss over the recently implemented code, which some players criticized and a few labeled as racist.

"Some of the reactions amuse me," he said. "You get a guy half-naked in a locker room and put a microphone in front of him and he'll say anything. We have 450 players and probably a dozen of them have said something they probably wish they hadn't," Stern said.

Stern declined to elaborate on how players who violate the code, which stipulates players must dress in "business casual" attire. The also banned items such as sleeveless shirts, shorts, sunglasses while indoors, and headphones during team or league business.

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

"The teams are responsible [for policing]," Stern said. "It is not about me. Twenty-eight of our teams actually have dress codes, a couple that require jackets and ties. This is the equivalent of having 30 team dress codes."

Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, one of the few high-profile players to support the dress code when it was announced, was in full compliance upon arriving at Quicken Loans Arena for the home opener.

James wore a white collared shirt under a red, V-neck sweater. He topped it off with a black velour pinstriped dress jacket and jeans.

"It doesn't take that long to get dressed, you get here and you put your uniform on," he said. "I follow the rules just like I've always done. I don't have a problem with it."

Part of Stern's decision to enforce the dress code may have stemmed from last year's brawl between Detroit and Indiana, an ugly fight that spilled into the stands and led to a season-long suspension for Pacers forward Ron Artest.

James was asked if Stern may have been attempting to cleanse the league's image.

"I think so," he said. "The NBA has some image problems, but we're all looked at within a thin microscope. Every little thing that we do can gets blown out of proportion."

Stern said the league was concerned about reaction in the aftermath of the brawl.

"We certainly focused on post-Detroit," he said. "It was a low point in the perception of our league. I have been commissioner for 27,000 games and it happened once. ... Our players are really good guys who deserve more respect than they were getting."

With the Hornets in town, Stern was asked about their future in New Orleans. Because of Hurricane Katrina, the club is playing the majority of its home games in Oklahoma City.

"It will be up to the NBA Board of Governors," Stern said. "Oklahoma City is a temporary stop with the opportunity of being a major-league city, which it has already demonstrated. If they never play another game there, they have had a great response. I think they will be beneficiary of this out-pouring.

"That said, I don't know exactly what is going on in New Orleans. I certainly think we have to make a decision by very early in the new year because in one shape or another, there are sales to be had and moves to be made."

"Right now, the more important issue is that there are people in New Orleans who are homeless, scattered and whose houses have been destroyed. There are things more important than regrouping, redoing sports facilities. We hope that we see a speedy return to a thriving city."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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