The NBA has turned into a fashion trendsetter. Starting with MJ and his kicks, evolving through the hip hop era, figuring out how to to individualise under the dress code regime to now pushing the boundaries of what is actually clothing – looking at you Westbrook.
Part of the fashion focus has been hair. Players have long been expressing themselves through their haircuts (or beards) for some time now. And while they might not all be winners, I’ll save judgement personally lest someone scrounge up the photo of my bleached blonde Afro.
So I thought it was time to look at some of the most ‘interesting’ and individual looks so far this season.
Top 5 Teams for Hair Diversity:
1. Boston Celtics
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Portland Trail Blazers
4. Houston Rockets
5. Philadelphia 76ers
Bottom 7 Teams for Hair Diversity:
1. Utah Jazz
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Dallas Mavericks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
6. Indiana Pacers
7. Charlotte Hornets
The Cornrow-To-Man Bun/Plaits.
Jeremy Lin has long been experimenting with his haircuts, and the cornrows into a man bun is one of his more unique styles. Not only that, he seems to have inspired some unlikely allies in Matt Barnes and Gerald Green, who have put their own flavour on this style. It’s good to see some of the older players not afraid to express themselves.
The Top Knot
Well, it’s definitely different. The extreme shave coupled with the tight slick back and small bun is similar to the look Lin has, but it somehow looks a bit more severe on Aron Baynes. Beno Udrih takes it one step further with a blonde highlight. Not for everyone, but good on them for not being afraid to be different. Evan Fournier has a similar look to Baynes, yet it doesn’t seem as striking, probably because the sides aren’t cut as close to the scalp.
Marcus Smart and Allen Crabbe have been rocking this look for over a season now, so kudos for sticking with it. Even George Hill got over his blonde Sisqo look last year. I’m definitely not a fan, but it does add inches to their height so increased positional flexibility is surely unlocked. Marcus Smart has evolved his into medium length dreads, which look much cooler.
Payton has this on lock, but Nogueira is hot on his heels. What’s so impressive about Payton’s hair is the longevity and the solidness, that thing doesn’t move when he runs. Extra points for exclusively being known for it, just like Harden’s signature is his beard.
Cody Zeller looks like someone said “do you want the bowl cut?” And he said “no, just make me look like Julius Caesar”, but they sort of botched it. Timofey Mozgov is also a member of the Caesar Club. Kosta Koufas has a similar look, but adds some significant balding to the equation. Solid effort.
Rolo will surely move into Simpsons cosplay when his career comes to an end. Another who has rocked his look for an eternity, Robin Lopez is synonymous with his rough dreads. Andy Varejao would be another player known for this style, but his is more curl than matted mess.
Thank god for Jae Crowder, DeMarre Carroll and Kenneth Faried. Whilst the Manimal rocks his locks in a ponytail with just the one tie-point (made that term up), the Salt King Crowder needs 2 tie-points, and has got the cornrows on the top to boot. Carroll adds his own flavour with the dyed tips. Plenty of other players have opted for the traditional dread look, but these 3 are the most prominent.
Who knows how much Street Fighter Meyers Leonard played. The smart money is a lot, and he must have favoured Ryu’s nemesis Akuma. Meyers has been in and out of the rotation, and his hair has become more plain as of late…maybe a coincidence? Points for originality with this style, that’s for sure!
Josh McRoberts and Joakim Noah have all had their look for a while. While Noah’s bun is messy (have you seen him with his hair ‘down’?). Hawes has opted for the small, compact look. This look has become more and more popular in mainstream western culture, so look for more and more players to adopt this low maintenance look.
The Baby Fro
Andrew Wiggins, yes. Demar DeRozan, almost. Wiggins’ look says I just woke up and cbf doing anything with my ‘do’, but I’m still gonna drop 30 on you (on 28 shots, dude has been struggling with his efficiency). Keeping the fro in the family, Mr Process and fellow ex Jayhawk Joel Embiid is holding down the look for the bigs. There are many other players rocking some variation of this too.
The High Top
RIP to Iman Shumpert’s excellent fade. Thankfully Jaylen Brown is here here to carry on your excellent legacy. A message to Towns: just let go of your fears and let it grow to its full potential. And to Blake Griffin and Devin Booker, commit to it fully and just see what happens. I’m sure no one will laugh.
The Messy Top
Originally not included, this look is gaining popularity throughout the league. Think Jerami Grant, Jimmy Butler, et al. The benefit of this style are 2 fold. 1) it’s low maintenance. Just wake up and off you go. 2) you get to add a couple of inches to your height, which greatly helps when having to defend up a position. Bonus is the sides are generally short, which aids with aerodynamics and cooling.
Kyle Singler and Gordon Hayward are the poster boys for this look. Take them off the court, put on a flannel shirt and skinny tan chinos, add some fake glasses and put a soy latte in their hand and you would think they were 2 tall white dudes from Portland or Brooklyn. Another sneaky contributor to the style that is sweeping the world is Jonas Jerebko.
Fred Hoiberg must have recommended his barber to TJ McConnell. TJ sometimes looks like he has just stepped out of a board meeting with Josh Harris before setting foot on the court. Nick Collison and Dougie “McBuckets” McDermott also seem cut from the corporate cloth.
Kawhi Leonard has this all to himself, shame on you Tony Snell. For a hairstyle that can be demonstrated in so many different styles, it figures that Leonard keeps his simple and plain. Call his the old Chevy look. More recently, Noah Vonleh and DeAndre Jordan have experimented with this as well.
The Faux Hawk
Becoming more and more popular. James Harden had his entire team rocking this look a couple of years ago. Players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo have rocked this as well. To learn more about this style, read here (but lets be honest, if you are reading this blog entry, you probably have some variation of the Faux Hawk anyway).
Who doesn’t remember Dave Chappelle in his groundbreaking role on the Nutty Professor as Reggie the stand up comedian? Evidently, the cultural phenomenon that is Dave has inspired some of today’s NBA players, including Nerlens Noel, Anthony Morrow and Marcus Smart.
A new entry from the Chief himself, Al-Farouq Aminu. Not content with traditional cornrows, twisties, dreads or anything like that, Aminu needed to add a bit of all of them, whilst dividing his hair into little squares. Nice to see that in this day and age when everything seems to be a copy, Chief is bringing in some of his own flavour.
Short, neat, professional, easy. Remember when Iverson cut his ‘rows, allegedly due to Obeezy getting elected and him wanting to look like the Prez? The shaved head look isn’t new and it isn’t original. Obama did not popularize it in any way. But given the former POTUS has now finished his term and his well known affinity for the game of basketball, I felt it was fitting this be named after him. Practitioners include Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul and many others.
The Surfer Dude
Ron Baker is having a bit of a coming out party. The Wichita State product recently got a starting nod at the 2 over Courtney Lee and the League is starting to take notice. Next, Melo will learn his full name! In the mean time, he is sure to be a hit in NYC with his ’70s California surfer style. Although, I would dearly love him to bring THIS back. Joining Baker is fellow rook and former Per-Minute sensation Jake Layman. Slightly shorter style, but still ready for waves.
The Dye Job
Dennis Schroder let his hair announce his arrival, well before his game did the talking upon arrival into the league. The blonde patch is hard to ignore, and being hard to ignore is exactly what Schroder has been over his first few years in the league. The look is still taking some time to catch on, but Kelly Oubre Jr seems to have given it his own personal interpretation.
The Beaver Tail
JaVale McGee is nothing if not entertaining. The colourful Centre has had a bounce back year with the Warriors, so it is only right he lets a little of his quirkiness shine through. The Dubs accept him for who he is; a pogo-stick rim protector/finisher with the first Beaver Tail hair style in known League history. Before this, it was 3 finely crafted Rat Tails. Keep being you JaVale. I’m shocked this hasn’t caught on more.
Watch this Space: The Trump
Now that trump is the President, will players start rocking his hair style? It might be too risky, since donning ‘The Don’ will likely result in players randomly trying to pull their hair off to check if it is real or not.
Best and Worst:
My take on the top performers and stragglers for each team. Considered were the player’s standing in the game, social media presence, uniqueness of the look , previous hair cuts compared to now, how identifiable they are by the style, and how fashionable or trendy it is.