You probably know that the 2014 NBA Draft is taking place right now on ESPN, unless you lost track of it between all of the World Cup patriotism today or the nonstop “WHERE THE F*CK IS LEBRON GOING TO PLAY?!?!” headlines on every website from here to the Plushie Love Free Forum. Now, if you’re completely clueless to what the NBA Draft is, it’s basically where the NBA teams that really sucked this past season try to make decisions that will help their franchises moving forward, like picking the best player available with their selections and praying that the player will not only be good, but won’t leave them for Los Angeles, Boston, New York or Miami in a few years.
Sometimes those picks end up working out great for the teams, but I’d speculate that more often than not, they end up being terrible, and the teams that make the worst picks end up on annual listicles as the targets of bad jokes. Like, for example, the Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick for the second year in a row, but after picking Anthony Bennett last year, they hope to actually use their No. 1 pick this year. That was just an example off the top of my head, but I hope you get the point. But the biggest thing to pay attention to tonight is the fashion, because NBA Draft picks have a long history of wearing some pretty awesome outfits.
Let’s take a look back at the last 30 years of NBA Draft fashion so you’ll understand why this year’s No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins looks like this tonight:
Pretty snazzy duds, right? Well, he’s just continuing in a long line of sharp-dressed men (listen to that song in another window while you take this trip down memory lane) like 1984 No. 1 pick Hakeem Olajuwon, to get us started.
First of all, David Stern’s 80s mustache game was hella tight. But much more importantly, Olajuwon’s tuxedo is the truest mark of NBA Draft fashion. That’s a man who understands both the importance and elegance of tonight’s event. Unfortunately, the tux never caught on as a universal thing. Some guys stuck to suits, but others still tried to look like a groomsman at a South Beach cocaine dealer’s wedding, like Chuck Person in 1986 (second from left).
Person may not have ended up as one of the league’s all-time greats, but he was responsible for one of the best character posters ever made. They don’t make them like that anymore.
By 1989, the NBA Draft had become about as stylish as a political convention. Look at this boring group of guys who look like they were just bused in for a Richard Marx concert in Vermont:
So boring. Well, aside from one insanely awesome mullet, the 1990 Draft wasn’t much better. These guys are here to see Michael Damien rock on:
Dwayne Schintzius never gets enough credit for that mullet. You won’t see that kind of hair action at the NBA Draft these days. If you ask me, Doug McDermott really let us down this year. In 1991, the suits didn’t get much crazier, but at least the Draft’s photo session became a little more fun thanks to Larry Johnson and his “I’m ready to pork you babes” club outfit.
A few years would pass, with plenty of boring suits in between, before Jalen Rose would become the Suit Game All-Star that the Draft so desperately needed.
If you’re not going to wear a tux, you might as well dress like a Dick Tracy character. But Rose wasn’t even the best suit that year. That honor went to Samari Walker.
Just amazing. Simply remarkable. Meanwhile, Steve Nash brought you a basketball for your Bar Mitzvah.
Another spectacular year all-around was 1997, when Maurice Taylor introduced us to the “Coral Gables House Paint” collection.
Tim Thomas also went with something special that year, but he forgot to let the paint shop spray him down before he arrived.
And Tracy McGrady rounded the ’97 class out by introducing the Top 20 Slow Jam Countdown alongside Peabo Bryson. In 2000, Mike Miller brought his A+ style game to the Draft’s studio session, and it’s worth remembering, because he never ever had style again.
In 2002, the NBA Draft celebrated the evolution of the long coat, which wasn’t unlike other years, because all of the tallest guys end up wearing long coats. But Drew Gooden’s overcoat look was one for the books.
As was Juan Dixon’s similar coat style.
Obviously, 2003 was a huge year for the Draft, because it featured some of the biggest stars currently in the game, and the greatest player in the NBA right now, LeBron James. But that year, the suit game was won by Addams Family party extra Chris Kaman.
The King isn’t off the hook, though. James’s all white look was a bold choice that had people considering putting ketchup packets on his seat.
Then, in 2004, Andris Biedrins did his best impression of a little kid dressing up in one of his father’s suits.
Poor Adam Morrison. After a great college career at Gonzaga, he has received an NBA Championship ring but has been ultimately worthless on every roster he’s been traded to. Is he still in the NBA? I have no clue. But on Draft night in 2006, he was still a top prospect while looking like he was here to pick up your daughter for prom, sir.
Everyone remembers Joakim Noah from the 2007 Draft. This image will be shown for a long, long time, as some people will make fun of it, while the rest of us will celebrate it.
Eric Gordon’s suit from the 2008 Draft actually has me stumped. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. I have no clue what this is. I also might be trying hard to be nice right now, because I kind of want him to end up in Orlando somehow. But I’ll worry about that after tonight.
This was also the draft that had one of my favorite suits, because this thing can’t be all jokes and hating. DJ Augustin’s three-piece was solid. A+ suit game right here.
In 2010, Wesley Johnson arrived just a little late for Judge Smails’s boat party.
While Evan Fournier showed up to the 2012 NBA Draft like, “Oh hey, is there a draft going on? I’m just chillin’.”
The recent years of the NBA Draft have been more stylish than ballsy, as I’m sure that some of these draft picks have been working with stylists just like Wiggins did for tonight. When Andre Roberson was the ballsiest with his suit choice for 2013, you know these guys are doing all right.
And then there’s my favorite guy from college basketball this year, the man who brought Princess Lacey into all of our lives, Michigan State forward Adreian Payne, who showed up tonight ready to make a big statement of his own. This is dapper, folks.
Enjoy the rest of the draft and be sure to remind me of any of the crazier 80s and 90s suits I neglected to mention.