INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana guard Stephen Jackson believes the NBA’s new ban on bling-bling is racially motivated, but says he will abide by the rules.
The NBA has announced that a dress code will go into effect at the start of the season. 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.
Jackson, who is black, said the NBA’s new rule about jewelry targets young black males because chains are associated with hip-hop culture, and he said the league is afraid of becoming “too hip-hop.” In protest, he wore four chains to the Pacers’ exhibition game against San Antonio on Tuesday night.
Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce agreed that the new rule targeted young, black players.
“When I saw the part about chains, hip hop and throwback jerseys, I think that’s part of our culture,” Pierce said. “The NBA is young black males.”
Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson also was critical of the new rule, which the NBA made teams aware of in a memo Monday.
“I feel like if they want us to dress a certain way, they should pay for our clothes,” he said. “It’s just tough, man, knowing that all of a sudden you have to have a dress code out of nowhere. I don’t think that’s still going to help the image of the league at all.”
Richardson added that nicer clothing wasn’t necessarily the best way to determine the character of the players.
“You still wear a suit, you still could be a crook,” Richardson said in Oakland, Calif. “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. So, it’s not what you wear, it’s how you present yourself.”
Jackson defended his actions on 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.”
Jackson said he had enough problems last year, when he was suspended for 30 games for his role in the November melee between Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans in Auburn Hills, Mich.
“You have to listen to the people who employ you,” he said. “The people who are paying us make the rules. You need to abide by the rules or don’t work. I want to work.”
Pierce, who said the matter should have been brought to the players’ association for a vote, said there are times he may not follow the rule.
“I dress how I feel anyway,” he said. “I think I’m just going to continue to dress how I feel. I think there’s some days I may take a fine.”
Jackson first made his displeasure with the new rule a public matter on Tuesday. He said he hasn’t heard from the league office, and doesn’t expect to.
“I still have freedom of speech, don’t I?” he said. “I didn’t disrespect anybody by saying it, so I can say what I want to say.”
PBT: Lance Stephenson led Indiana with 25 points in a win that eliminated his hometown team. Stephenson and the Pacers will face the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
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