What is basketball coming too?

Actually, in some ways I agree with David Stern that the thug culture is ruining basketball. But the way people dress is not the problem. I sincerely hope that the proposed NBA dress code is not put into effect.

Who cares what they dress in. To a man I have yet to see someone wearing anything offensive, just sagged jeans, baggy shirts, and lots of bling (and all of it very expensive at that). If the majority of deep pocketed Americans are too worried about the injured players on the sidelines looking like thugs to buy tickets they are too far gone for help. They are obviously holed up in the panic room of their suburban McMansion worrying about armed inner city thugs driving half an hour to their priviledged suburb and coming to thier driveway to rape and kill the whole family. Yeah right!!! Not unless they have a meth lab in the basement or a few pounds of coke they stole from the gang leader. Like it or not gangsta's tend to kill other gangsta's over drugs or money but they could care less about rich suburbanites. And despite all the problems NBA players have most are far from thugs.

This preoccupation with thug culture has eroded basketball from both sides, however. Those who espouse the thug ethic (white and black alike folks, this is not just a black thing anymore!) see themselves as the king shit and therefore they shoehorn a few I's into TEAM and take the rock to the hole every time they touch it. I hate that!!!! It's a team game and I think it should stay that way. Don't get me started on how the And1 mix tape series and Rafer "Skip to My Lou" Alston have eroded the fundamental skills of the kids learning to play. (No offense to Rafer but kids don't know you need the fundmentals in order to make those tricks work.)

On the other side are those squirming suburbanites who have the guts to crawl from their basement panic rooms. They have been instrumental in the destruction of way too many outdoor courts around the nation through passionate appeals to park boards or simply by purposeeful lack of maintenance. All of this has been in the name of lowering neighborhood crime (read: "Blacks play B-ball and if we have a court they will come here to play, lead our kids astray, sell drugs to our sons and pimp our daughters. OMG! Please stop this invasion of our suburban world!").

In all my years of playing on outdoor courts I have yet to see a drug deal go down. I've played on the farm, in the burbs and the inner city against honor students and criminals. I've seen some people smoke a joint before playing, which amazes me to no end that they can run let alone shoot, but I have never seen violence or drug dealing. I've seen more pot smoked at one Dylan concert within five feet of me than I've seen smoked on a basketball court all my life. People go there to play.

For sure I've seen some hard cases on the court and talked to many of them. They are there to play and they are often serious about the game. They aren't there to commit crimes they are there to have fun and honor the game. Honestly, the congeniality of the inner city crowd is far higher than that of the suburban crowd anyway. The suburban athlete who isn't a big school star is usually so sheltered that if they haven't seen you before and you are obviously not driving daddies "Benzo" they are sure you are an asshole from the start. Guys in the inner city don't really care, although they have hazed me pretty hard about being "Whitie". But for the most part it's all in fun or it's to test your mettle. If you can prove you can play you are always welcome to run with them, there aren't very many preconcieved notions.

That is my take on the Thug culture in relation to basketball. The idea that the NBA would dictate how its 'entertainers/athletes' dress is ludicrous and a crass ploy to gain more money in the face of a divided culture. It plays to the worst stereotype of black athletes and brings us back to the '50's in fashion sense. For my sake I hope they come down on the side of common decency and a bit of modern style.

Now, the day I see Lebron sitting on the sideline in clothing similar to what J.Lo. wore to the Oscars a few years ago that is when a dress code can be enforced. Until then lets stick to keeping the players from messing up legally, sexually, and automotively and we'll be on the right track. Their clothes are by far the least of the problem.