NBA Coaches No Longer Allowed to Wear Mock Turtlenecks

29 09 2010

Five years ago, David Stern rocked the NBA established by instituting a new dress code on NBA benches. No longer would players be allowed to dress like teenage kids in track jackets and baseball caps. In the wake of the Palace Brawl, the league had an image to improve, and Stern was going to do something about in the most superficial way possible.

In focusing on the players, though, the commissioner neglected a hidden sartorial evil lurking on the sidelines: coaches in mock turtlenecks. As noted in this AP piece on Stan Van Gundy’s approach to coaching the Magic this season (via Skeets), the league has now disallowed the more sensible alternative to a turtleneck for coaches:

And those trademark turtleneck shirts complete with the same few sport coats on the sideline are gone. New NBA rules require coaches to wear collared shirts during games.

“I want them to at least name the rule after me,” Van Gundy said. “Somebody has their Bird rights. Larry Bird got that rule named after him. I want it to be the Van Gundy Rule.”

Van Gundy is a bit mistaken. As you can clearly see from the photo above, the new rule should be called the Don Nelson Gut Visibility Ban of 2010. It’s now obvious why Nellie quit the Warriors. The breakup wasn’t about money or the new ownership’s unhappiness with his coaching style; it was simply an issue of Nelson not being able to roam the sidelines with his neck at maximum comfort level. Under these grueling conditions, it’s no wonder he decided to go back to Maui, where there are no draconian restrictions on an adult’s wardrobe. If Nelson wants to where half-shirts on the beach, then by golly he’s going to do it.

In all honesty, I have no idea why Stern would create this new rule. The t-shirt-and-blazer combo has become a legitimate option for young urban professionals and older businessmen alike, to the point where only the most conservative men in American commerce demand suits from their employees at all times (or so I’ve heard from people who make more money than I do).  If Van Gundy has looked unprofessional as a coach, it’s because of his constant yelling and wild gesticulating, not his clothes. But don’t tell that to Stern, who has been photographed without a tie approximately once in his life.

He’s just asking for a problem here. What if a player on the Magic — most likely Ryan Anderson — can’t play in a game and shows up with a mock turtleneck. Will SVG get jealous and never play him again? That’s a player-coach argument you don’t want to have happen in view of cameras.

Surely the coaches and league can reach a compromise. Otherwise, I think everyone should wear bolo ties on the sidelines as a show of solidarity. A man’s clothes are his own form of expression, and that outlet should never be shut down.


The Warriors Are Going to Be Hilarious for a Few Months

15 09 2010

The Golden State Warriors are quite obviously entering a transitional period. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber will officially take over the team as owners some time in October, when the NBA’s Board of Governors will presumably ratify the Chris Cohan’s sale of the franchise, and Lacob has already made it clear that he prefers to field a tough, defensive-minded team rather than the shambling offensive jubilee of the Don Nelson years. Guber, whose Mandalay Entertainment has produced such fine films as Into the Blue, presumably prefers a team of hot women clad in tiny blue bikinis or with their arms bitten off by sharks (whoops, SPOILER ALERT).

Lacob’s vision for the Warriors has already begun to be realized — just look at their recent two-year deal for Louis Amundson. The former Sun was a great energy player off the bench for last year’s Western Conference finalists, but as noted by Tim Kawakami, he’s not Nelson’s type of player. In other words, he can’t shoot at all, and Nellie can typically only stand to play one of those guys at a time. With David Lee and Andris Biedrins already on the roster, it’s likely that Amundson won’t get many opportunities to play.

Of course, Nelson probably won’t be with the team much longer. Lacob and Guber are almost certain to go in another direction, potentially before the end of the season. They don’t owe Nelson anything other than money, and he’s a symbol of the previous regime.

The problem here is that if Lacob and Guber don’t take over until October, that doesn’t give them much time before the beginning of the regular season to find a new replacement. While they almost certainly want to get rid of Nelson as soon as possible, doing it so close to the beginning of the new campaign — and possibly even during training camp — would create a series of unwelcome distractions and problems just as everyone was trying to forge an identity for the 2010-11 squad.

So expect Nelson to run the Warriors for at least a few months. In that time period, expect a lot of comedy, because the NBA’s foremost mad scientist has been given a surprisingly standard roster with which to concoct his lineup experiments.

Nelson loves shooters, and shooters are typically guards. But the Warriors are very thin at guard, with only Jannero Pargo (and the 6-6 Reggie Williams, if you want to classify him as such) standing in as sharpshooting backups to Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. At wing, things are much thinner: prospective starter Dorell Wright took only two threes per game (shooting well at 38.9%) in about 20 minutes of action last season, while likely backup Rodney Carney can’t shoot at all.

So, unless Nelson wants to get completely goofy and play Wright or Williams at the four, the Warriors are almost guaranteed to play two non-shooters on the bulk of their possessions next season. This situation will surely frustrate Nelson to no end; his probable last coaching job won’t allow him to go out with a bang.

There are two ways this could go. On one hand, Nelson will lose whatever’s left of his mind and trot out the weirdest lineups ever seen on an NBA court. I’m talking full-on craziness unseen since the days before the Minneapolis Lakers even decided what positions were. Or maybe Nelson will go in the other direction, realize he has no hope of innovation, and openly weep during games. Fortunately, I hear assistant Keith Smart has a great shoulder for crying on.

I’ll be watching with interest. Here’s hoping local broadcasts train a camera on Nelson at all times, because there’s no telling how he might act before Lacob and Guber pull his plug.