(one of these gentleman can look forward to a makeover)
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, the NBA and its players’ union devised several new initiatives designed to improve the athletes’ accessibility and professionalism. Players will be required to attend pregame autograph sessions and participate in pregame giveaways of T-shirts, hats, and wristbands. Inactive players will greet fans and community groups on game nights. The league increased the players’ minimum number of community relations appearances from 10 to 12. Players must make themselves available to the media for at least 15 minutes after practice. And among other new rules, there will be a dress code Stern expects to include sport coats and collared shirts, and exclude bluejeans. When it was mentioned that some of the league’s most highly regarded players, such as Tim Duncan, dress more casually, Stern said, ”Well, the job description has changed.”
”We’re working on a job description,” said Stern. ”It’s to help the players understand what the job is. The job is not only to go to practice and win games. The job is representing the NBA to all constituencies. Community relations. Public relations. Sponsor relations . . . Maybe for a variety of reasons we pulled back too much. Or maybe we got spoiled by a generation of players who did these things as a matter of course and as we got younger we moved away from them. So, we have to slowly remind ourselves [what to do].
”Sometimes I worry that our players’ intensity can be misconstrued and their effort can be misconstrued. They are the most intense, the most dedicated. I think the younger base of our fans understands that, but perhaps, the mid-to-older aren’t quite as attuned to it. We’d like to use our convening power to have people focus on this game and our great players, who they are and how they play, rather than their variance from some norm . . . Being neatly attired in a certain way, that’s going to be our norm.”