MILWAUKEE - It takes a pretty big man to wear tights in public.
Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and LeBron James big enough for you?
Spandex is spreading throughout the NBA, as several players have taken to wearing full-length tights underneath their shorts during games this season.
James, who recently gave up his tights, suspects that some of his fellow stars are trying to make a fashion statement.
"Of course they are," James said.
Not James, of course. Like the other players who wear them, James insists he wore the tights to help prevent injuries.
"Mine were work-related," James said.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Joe Smith says he isn't trying to rack up style points, either.
Having recently returned to the court after knee surgery in December, he's just trying to keep his knees warm to stay healthy.
"It's definitely not a fashion statement for me," Smith said. "It's something that's really helping me out."
These days, the Bucks show up to games looking like they're ready to perform Swan Lake.
At Smith's urging, teammates Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Mo Williams and Toni Kukoc all have taken to the court with their legs wrapped in skin-tight black spandex in recent weeks - Smith wears white tights - giving Milwaukee the unofficial league lead in Lycra.
Bucks coach Terry Stotts is willing to buy the idea that tights might have some medical benefit for his players.
The tights-wearing players have critics, too. Denver Nuggets center Marcus Camby bristled at the suggestion that a protective sleeve he was wearing on his leg in November looked anything like Bryant's tights.
"I don't wear pantyhose," the Rocky Mountain News quoted Camby as saying.
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