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Loren Jorgensen: Taking NBA torch from Rich not easy

The single biggest issue facing the National Basketball Association today is what the players wear to and from the games. Yes, the newly installed dress code is a matter of international importance. Forget Iraq, the Supreme Court confirmation process, White House leaks and the chicken flu.

National discussion should be focused on whether or not Allen Iverson can wear bling around his neck — over his clothes, mind you! — to and from games.

Yeah, right.

The ad nauseam discussions the past couple of weeks about the NBA's new dress code has made me literally sick and tired — I have been coughing and have the bags under my eyes to prove it.

OK, I'll admit that my health issues may just be a cold not related in any way to the sports world. There's the off chance the symptoms may have nothing to do with ESPN's nonstop stories on the NBA's dress code, or even the fact that respected editorial writers — not just sports columnists, but writers on the editorial pages who normally write about important stuff — have felt the need to chime in on the subject.

Is it racially motivated? Why doesn't David Stern understand the hip-hop generation? Shouldn't NBA players get a clothing allowance if they are mandating clothing?

Blah, blah, blah.

Let's just say that I'm up to my neck — with or without heavy gold chains around it — with the NBA's dress code as a topic. To paraphrase that Bill Shakespeare guy — it all seems like much ado about very little. Lots of jobs require certain dress codes. David Stern is the boss. He wants employees to look a certain way. Deal with it. Let's move on.

So I will now vow not to even mention the dress code in this space the rest of the season.

Unless, of course, it becomes a big issue again. Then all bets are off.

Speaking of this column, some of you may have noticed that there is a new ugly mug shot at the top of this space replacing the old ugly mug shot from past NBA seasons. That is because I am not Rich Evans — as much as I wish I were.

Evans was the Deseret Morning News' resident NBA expert of the past several years, doing an outstanding job.

But, alas, Rich has moved on to bluer pastures — having taken a job at Brigham Young University. There he will mold wide-eyed and optimistic wannabe journalists into the cynical, sarcastic professionals we all eventually become in this field. Honestly, I can think of no one more qualified for such a monumental task.

In all seriousness, I would like to personally thank Rich Evans for the many years of outstanding work he put in here at the D-News — work that was often overlooked by some around here. Whether it was editing copy, coming up with witty headlines, writing stories or columns, Evans did the job as well as anybody we've ever had here on the sports staff and much better than most.

He will be missed.

Especially by me — since I'm the one who's been asked to step in as the paper's NBA "expert."

Don't get me wrong, I know a little about the Association — as those of us in the know like to call the NBA. I am, after all, a past Utah Jazz beat writer where I spent more hours than I care to remember in hotels, airports and NBA arenas.

But that was last century (man, I feel old), in the late '90s — when the question wasn't whether the Jazz would make the playoffs, but rather would they be the No. 1 seed out of the Western Conference. In other words, it may take awhile for me to get up to speed on all things NBA. So bear with me.

Now, who does Michael Jordan play for these days? I forget. And Hakeem Olajuwon is still the Houston Rockets' go-to guy, right?

It won't be easy to take over for Evans, either. Now I know how Carlos Arroyo felt when John Stockton retired. Chances are I'll be in Jerry Sloan's doghouse before Christmas and may even get traded to the Detroit Free Press next season.

Oh, well. I'll do my best to continue the tradition set by Evans of taking a stand about NBA topics and having a well-thought-out opinion. You won't always agree with the message and/or the presentation of such, but that's what makes sports fun.

Now about that silly NBA dress code. . . .