To those of you who think that the NBA isn't in business at the moment, hoof it over to the glittering NBA Store at 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City. You'll see a league that is definitely in business. Question: How much would you pay for a spangly, rhinestone-studded purse shaped like a basketball? (Better question: Why would you pay for a spangly, rhinestone-studded purse shaped like a basketball?) Answer: At the NBA Store you would pay $1,800 for the purse, a designer model by Kathrine Baumann of Beverly Hills. The price, unlike an NBA contract, is nonnegotiable.
We're no experts on purses, but these don't look like the land of accoutrement the fashionable women of the WNBA would wear. Neither have we detected much interest on the street for New York Knicks earrings ($650) and Orlando Magic key chains ($80). The cuff links have us a little confused, too. We haven't heard too many cuff link discussions over the last, oh, 40 years, so we're not sure who's going to spring for the $1,200 Los Angeles Lakers links.
You can entice a zealous fan to buy almost anything, but we're not sure who's clamoring for apparel bearing league logos. Yet over at the NBAporium there is plenty of league-specific apparel. There's a $475 leather jacket with a Western Conference patch on the right sleeve and an Eastern Conference patch on the left. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
The store carries more modestly priced items, such as $12 water bottles and Barbie dolls for $25. These being progressive times, Barbie is in the lineup, available as a Knick, Laker or Chicago Bull, and not on the dance team. Teresa and Kira, two so-called Friends of Barbie, are on the shelf in WNBA jerseys, though they look like waiver-wire material. Teresa wears number 60, while Kira is number 57. Ken didn't make the cut—in either league.
Our favorite item is the Waterford vase inscribed with an image of Larry Bird dunking and a quote about Bird from Magic Johnson that reads, "That's Larry Bird in a nutshell. One of the smartest players ever to play the game. Just the Bird Man, that's all." Huh? The vase costs $8,000, which strikes us as no small sum, even for, say, Bird or Magic. "Eight grand used to be the payroll for an entire NBA team," said writer David Halberstam as he strolled wide-eyed through the store recently. If we were going to make the Larry Bird Exception and pay eight grand for a Bird vase, we'd rather have him shooting his classic three-pointer or releasing one of his funky little post-up shots. Perhaps those moves don't look as good in crystal as a dunk, but—we've gotta tell you—the dunk doesn't look that good either.
6 a.m.! Keep That Head Down!
The holiday issue of the Competitive Edge golf catalog offers a $29.95 travel alarm clock whose lighted display panel greets the riser with a daily golf tip. It's only a matter of time, we figure, before this device's owner—demonstrating an impeccable swing plane, of course—activates the snooze alarm with a nine-iron.
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