The hoopla over NBA players' off-court attire has been replaced by the league's obsession with what they wear on it. NBA spokesperson Tim Frank confirmed yesterday that the National Basketball Players' Association filed a grievance this week on behalf of more than a dozen players who have been fined $10,000 for wearing their shorts too long.
The rule for shorts to be one inch above the knee has been in place for several years, but it has been vigorously enforced this season. At least 13 players have been fined, including Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, Denver's Andre Miller and New York's Stephon Marbury. The NBA wants short shorts, but not "Jerry West or John Stockton shorts," Commissioner David Stern said in an online chat on ESPN.com.
Without giving an exact number, NBA senior vice president Stu Jackson said yesterday that the league has already fined more than twice as many players for uniform violations than during the 2004-05 season. "There is a standard, as to how a player is to wear his uniform," Jackson said in a phone interview. "There is a standard in all sports as to how a uniform is to be worn and our standard is that the shorts, in particular, are to be worn above the knee."
Jackson said teams are given a warning after the first violation. When the team fails to comply in a sufficient manner, only the team gets fined. After the third violation, the team and individual players are fined. Teams can be fined up to $50,000. The Washington Wizards were warned about the policy before facing the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 9 and have acquiesced.
Several players have complained that they are not at fault, that they were being penalized for wearing uniforms manufactured by the league's uniform supplier, Reebok. That sentiment was echoed in the grievance, but Jackson disagreed.
"The teams are responsible for holding the players to compliance," Jackson said. "Our teams placed the orders with Reebok. Our teams are responsible for putting the players out on the court with a uniform that is in compliance. To say that Reebok is the issue, I think, is a bit misguided."
In his chat, Stern also said he wasn't a fan of teams blaring loud music and sound effects during games, and suggested that he was looking to experiment with a "silent night" at a few games.
-- Michael Lee