Hall of FameSports

Early 2000s Time Machine: A Funny Look at the NBA 10 Years Ago

By February 15, 2013June 18th, 2018No Comments

all-star-weekendRemember when you thought the year 2000 and the turn of the century was SO cool? I do. Remember Y2K, instant messaging, everyone having a cell phone, voting for things online, and making fun of people who still had VCRs and portable CD players?  Well it’s because I remember those things that today I find myself feeling very old. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a young adult relatively speaking, but I think it’s time to throw the early 2000s into their appropriate VH1 “I Love the Decade” time capsule. It’s time for all of us Generation X’ers (everyone who purchased Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001, watched and rooted for Stone Cold Steve Austin, and saw the Matrix or the Blair Witch Project when they first came out) to stop trying to be cool and admit that we are now old enough to have our youth collectively ripped on by the youth of today.

Take the NBA for instance. The early 2000s is a LONG TIME AGO, especially when looking through the lens of the NBA All-Star weekend. Don’t believe me? Let’s look back 10 years and I’m going tell you a couple things, show you a couple pictures, and play for you a couple videos that illustrate what NBA life was like in 2003. Afterwards, my hope is that all of you will remember, reflect and feel just a tad older when you’re watching the All- Star festivities this weekend.

2003 really seems ancient when you consider the following Then and Now scenarios.

There is no doubt in my mind that we will be treated to a WIDE ARRAY of unique NBA fashion this weekend.  If All-Star Saturday Night was the Oscars in the NBA, then the front row, court-side is the Red Carpet.

C-Webb’s Sweats and Shaq Spielberg vs LeBron’s 1/2 leather 1/2 denim jacket.

The early 2000s were pre-NBA dress code years. And it’s hard to believe but we are so old that the NBA dress code is starting to get old. Commissioner David Stern unveiled the league wide dress code before the start of the 2005 NBA Season. This means, that in 2003, hip-hop undertones and thuggery and buggery were at near panic levels in the NBA if they brought about this “need” for change. Stern’s pseudo racist policy to aesthetically attract wider audiences and appeal to corporate sponsors has turned NBA superstars from looking like this in 2003:

Ivo rocking the throwback Bucks jersey on the bench at 76ers game. He plays for the 76ers FYI.

.…into looking like this in 2013:

What in the name of Craig Sager is that sport coat Rajon? Piano pattern and suede?!!

It’s interesting that the pendulum has swung so intensely that we went from being “afraid” of NBA players who dressed like to gangbangers to applauding the fashion of NBA players who dress like dorks. Judging by the outfits current stars rock on a daily basis, the NBA might as well stand for Nerdy Basketball Ass lookin’ mofo’s. Fake glasses, bowties, excessive plaid, pocket protectors, asthma inhalers and all the other nerdy accessories our ballers don are just the fashion counter attacks to the early 2000s hip-hop styles that were all the rage ten years ago.

The evolution of the NBA dress code has had a profound effect on the way young people, especially black males, dress today. Think about it. The NBA is the league whose stars are most recognizable. And Commissioner Stern’s policy, albeit loaded with racial undertones, has single handedly removed the baggy jeans, over-sized jerseys, and du rag – fitted cap combos from the NBA landscape. As a result, I can honestly say that as a black man living in a major city, I can’t even remember the last time I saw anyone rock a du rag in public, much less with a fitted cap over it. Does Stern deserve credit for this? I think so …..What a racist!

Public Relations
Our beloved NBA is changing in so many ways that this discussion can be extended beyond the court to league wide initiatives within our communities. Remember back in the day when all NBA players cared about was how well your kids could read? In almost every nationally televised game since the Jordan era, David Stern’s NBA PR machine mandated about: 60 seconds of ad time promoting its community affairs campaign.

NBA Player rolls out of bed in pajamas to read to kids vs. “Lob City” Home Remodeling.

In the early 2000s, “Read to Achieve” commercials like the below with Reggie Miller ran ad nauseam, until the NBA realized that 4th graders DO NOT watch the NBA in prime time. If reading alot means you’ll start to talk in lame rhymes like Reggie in this commercial, I’d rather be illiterate.

Naturally ads like these yielded little influence thus, it was time to shift the BS movement toward a much more realistic community service endeavor….construction and home remodeling.

In 2005, the NBA began trying to convince us that they “care” because their stars are willing to help put up the siding on a newly built house. But let’s be real, no team is risking injury to their stars by allowing them to do any real work on these shanty homes. You think Chris Paul is messing with a nail gun? You think Blake Griffin is using a ladder for any other purpose than an elaborate dunk attempt at All Star weekend. Hell no. I’m sure the photo shoot is really all the “NBA Cares” about. They take the picture and they bounce immediately.

Western Dominance
Most would agree that the Western Conference has the lion’s share of the NBA’s strongest teams and most talented players here in 2013. But back in 2003, the West pretty much had a Rockefeller like monopoly on talent. Take a look at this comparison of the starting All-Star squads from 10 years ago.

Am I the only one who misses T-Mac?

The East routinely sent inferior rosters to the All-Star game due to an overall lack of talent. And it lasted throughout the much of the decade. In addition to the weak squad above, Antoine Walker and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were also All-Stars for the East in 2003. This type of garbage roster for the East was common place in the early 2000s as they made mockery of the term “all-star” by churning out these notorious selections.

Worst All-Stars Ever (All took place in early 2000s):
2004—Jamaal McGloire (Charlotte Hornets)
2003—Brad Miller (Indiana Pacers)
2001—Anthony Mason (New York Knicks)
2001—Antonio Davis (Toronto Raptors)
2000—Dale Davis (Indiana Pacers)

Thanks to the Heat, Bulls, and Celtics, the Eastern Conference is respectable again. But a decade ago, it was about as lousy as it gets.

Online Voting
2003 was the first year that the NBA used Worldwide Internet balloting to determine who starts in the All-Star game (a truly novel concept at the time). Most notably, Yao Ming, as a rookie, got so many online votes from fans in China that he started this game over Shaq who had just led Lakers to a title and won a Finals MVP.

Thanks to the unstoppable trendsetting machine that is the NBA, every black person under the age of 30 who didn’t have a serious job wore braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks during the energy filled early 2000s. Consider….

By the way, Spree is still nuts. Google him. 

And as far as basketball was involved, some white guys capitalized on the fad as well.

Seriously, Radmonivic’s looks like a broke ass Medusa from Greek mythology.

Everyone was Rapping Apparently
Today, LL Cool J, Ice –T, Ice Cube, T.I., Ludacris, and Eminem have made commonplace the idea of the Rapper/Actor. But in the early 2000s, it was all about the Rapper/Hooper. I don’t know if that means that rap was so bad that hoopers actually thought they could make and sell records, or that the NBA was so bad that players needed a second revenue stream, but below is the album artwork of the notable NBA stars who tried to make it in the music biz. (Kobe and C-Webb’s shit was turrible. But I still have A.I.’s 56 Bars in my iTunes.)

Ivo’s 56 bars is good, C-Webb’s Gangsta Gangsta is bad, but worth a listen, Kobe’s song is so lousy that it’s staggering.

Hopefully this stroll down memory lane was as useful for you as it was for me. My intention was to remind you of your early 2000s past and force you to realize that the shit you once knew as popular is now unbelievably lame. Nothing was “dope”, back then everything was “tight”. No one had “swag”; instead we all had “game”. And the NBA looked, felt, and played a lot differently. Enjoy All-Star Weekend 2013 and embrace the past, because you’re officially old if any of the above resonates with you. Admit it.

Check out some of Jason’s other work at his 2 for 3 sports blog