In a recent poll commissioned by The Mag, opinions of the casual fan regarding the NBA suggest significant-and troubling-racial stereotyping. Nearly 50% of those polled think "it's a shame what's happening to the league" versus 38% who feel the same about baseball (even in the wake of the daily steroids headlines) and 21% about the NFL (despite the recent doings of Michael Vick and Pacman Jones).Palmer also reveals the poll indicates sports fans feel NBA players are more likely to cheat on their wife and disrespect his fans or team. Basically, it's an image problem, which seems to have been David Stern's view all along.
But Stern's tried to address the image problem head on, with the dress code and other tools. Can it ever work? Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson don't get into trouble off the court, but they wear cornrows and have tattoos and appear in rap tracks. I'm sure these poll respondents might cite either (or both) as part of "shame" of the league's new identity (never mind they are among the most generous athletes in America). Clearly, some ignorant folks aren't paying attention to reality. Will they ever? And how in the world can the NBA switch the tides without alienating the core base who understands and enjoys the modern player?