NBA RACES DOWN THE RUNWAY

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Despite the parquet runway and the smattering of pro basketball players, what the NBA showcased at its first fashion show was not exactly activewear.
Going for an image with a little more sizzle than sport, the league sent plenty of HotPants, tiny tops, body-hugging outfits and gladiator sandals down the runway. As an apparent nod to the power of logos, some models marched out wearing little more than that. One woman hit the catwalk in short-shorts with a New York Knicks pennant worn like a kerchief top.
Another tie — the one between music and sports — was also evident. Singer Carl Thomas performed, D.J. Funkmaster Flex spun records and MTV’s Ananda Lewis hosted the event.
Rapper Ice Cube; pro basketball players Nikki McCray, Teresa Weatherspoon, Rebecca Lobo, Antoine Walker and Elton Brand; and models Marcus Schenkenberg and Kylie Bax walked the runway in the celebrity fashion show.
Those not among the 400 invited to the show at the NBA’s Fifth Avenue store could watch it live on NBA.com. At the site, they found certain runway styles were part of an online charity auction, which has been extended through Friday.
A leather halter top and capri pants imprinted with flames and “Heat” — the team in Miami set to take on the Knicks in the second round of the NBA playoffs — and modeled by Kylie Bax, were among the offerings. There was also Carmen Electra’s two-piece bathing suit embellished with “NBA” in Swarovski crystals. In addition to raising money for charity, the show marked the relaunch of NBA.com.
After the event, NBA commissioner David Stern rose from his front-row seat to size up the show.
“An authentic uniform is an authentic uniform,” he said. “We didn’t think people wanted to see that on the runway. These outfits were a little more memorable.”
Asked to identify the outfit that he found most memorable, Stern paused, picked Teresa Weatherspoon’s, and smiled. Unlike most of the scantily clad female models, Weatherspoon was dressed in an oversized white denim jacket with coordinating breakaway pants.
“This was supposed to be fun,” Stern said. “We wanted to show we can laugh at ourselves while bringing some attention to the store and the online store.”
WNBA hoopster Rebecca Lobo was not so amused in her New York Liberty tank top and bleached flare-legged jeans with a coordinating hobo hat.
“The league has been really good to me. Whenever the league asks me to do anything, I generally say yes,” she said. “Of course, that was before I saw the hat, or else I might have reconsidered.”
Most of the male models wore oversized clothes. New York Giants defensive back Jason Sehorn sported an oversized see-through plastic Los Angeles Lakers shirt and boxers. Another model wore shorts with an oversized basketball hoop and basketball net.
A “unity quilt” of autographed NBA basketball jerseys, sewn by members of Mothers of Professional Basketball Players, is being auctioned at NBA.com. Proceeds will benefit Reading is Fundamental.