Personally, I can see both sides. It's true that some NBA players are dressing too sloppy and that it would certainly give a more respectful look to the game. On the other hand, having to sit through a six-hour flight in khakis and dress shoes seems a bit much. So forget that part. To me, the most important part of this is the racial issue. Steven Jackson has called the dress code racist, saying:
"I'll wear a suit every day. I think we do need to look more professional because it is a business. A lot of guys have gotten sloppy with the way they dress. But it's one thing to [enforce a] dress code and it's another thing if you're attacking cultures, and that's what I think they're doing."
While that's a controversial argument and one which I think is narrow-minded, it's certainly far from completely false. I've heard people say this decision has nothing to do with race, and that's just plain wrong. If this was a predominantly white league and the players all wore overalls, work boots, and plaid shirts, I'm not sure we'd be getting such an uproar.
Consider the words of coach Phil Jackson:
"The players have been dressing in prison garb the last five or six years. All the stuff that goes on, it's like gangster, thuggery stuff.
Gangsters? Thugs? Aren't those exactly the words some people use in a derogatory sense to describe African-Americans in general? I agree that wearing do-rags and chain-links around your neck is gangster. But jeans and a T-shirt? Retro jerseys? Pendants? Since when are those gangster or prison garb? I don't remember seeing players in black-and-white striped coveralls and handcuffs getting off the planes. So what exactly is "prison garb?" Answer: Hip-hop style clothing. Which are worn by African-Americans.
I'm not saying it's all racist. They do need to do something after Allen Iverson started punching people in the audience. But they have to acknowledge that the dress code is based at least a little bit on race. At some level, rich white people are nervous because the game has become too black-oriented, and they want to rein it in. Even if that's not true, they should work to avoid giving that impression. I don't have a problem with the dress code, just those who insist it's not about race. When you've got white people telling black people how to dress, it's almost impossible not to be.
Read someone else's editorial on the NBA's Hypocritical Dress Code.