NEW YORK (AP) – David Stern wanted to come up with a dress code that wouldn’t restrict his players.

So he picked one that wouldn’t bother his owners, either.

“What we came up with is a dress code that even Mark Cuban could comply with – if he wanted to,” Stern said Tuesday.

The NBA commissioner spoke after addressing the Executive Forum on Sports and Social Responsibility, where he announced the league’s “NBA Cares” initiative, which he guaranteed will raise and donate $100 million to charity over the next five years.

But instead of getting questions about how the players were going to clean up the communities, he got more about how he planned to clean up the players.

On Monday, the NBA announced 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 who are not in uniform to wear sport jackets, shoes and socks.

And while Stern knows some players will be critical of the policy, he said there was no reason to be, as even jeans are still allowed.

“As it’s properly understood, it will be embraced,” he said. “The union’s fine with it. It’s quite liberal and easygoing.”

Cleveland star LeBron James was among those who saw the reasoning behind the new rules.

“Sometimes you feel lazy on a flight and you don’t want to put (dress) clothes on,” James said. “But this is a job and we want to have fun, but it’s a job and we should look like we’re going to work.”

Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson said he had no problem with requiring players to dress better. But he drew the line at players being told their chains and necklaces can’t be visible over their clothes.

“I just think that’s attacking young, black males,” said Jackson, who wore four chains to the Pacers exhibition game against San Antonio on Tuesday night. “The part about wearing suits, I think we should dress up. A lot of guys have gotten sloppy with the way they dress and I have no problem with that. But the chains, that’s going a little too far.”

Stern pointed out that when the topic was brought up during collective bargaining, the teams “preferred that we do it as a group.”

Even so, many NBA players are more comfortable dressing like the fans they cater to. And Cuban, the maverick owner of the Dallas Mavericks, often dresses in T-shirts and jerseys.

“We don’t really sell to big business,” Phoenix guard Raja Bell said. “We sell to kids and people who are into the NBA hip-hop world. They may be marketing to the wrong people with this.”

But, as Stern pointed out, the reputation of the league’s players had fallen to a point that was “not as good as our players are.” That’s why he believes – and insists – the players will readily go along with his policy.

“We have a minimum standard that we’ve set that reflects on the professionals in our sport and you’re going to do it,” he said. “We’re certain that it will be complied with.”



AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

AP-ES-10-18-05 2018EDT


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