Most top NBA stars come into the league as fresh-faced 18-to-20-year-olds, and by the time they’re grizzled veterans, their looks have changed. Heck, even by the time they’ve been in an NBA weight room for five years their physical appearances have probably changed fairly dramatically.
If you’ve ever run across rookie year pictures of stars later in their careers, you’ll often get a chuckle out of what they used to look like, especially if you can find pictures of them in street clothes, because they’ll take you back to what hilarious style was “cool” at that time. For example, just look at these jeans LeBron James was wearing back in 2005.
Everything about this picture screams mid-2000s, from the huge jeans to the white tall tee LeBron is wearing as an undershirt even though it’s significantly bigger than the shirt he’s wearing over it. I love it. The mid-2000s were great, but they were just an awful time for fashion choices.
What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. NBA players looking different from their rookie year to now. Sorry, I got distracted by those jeans. To help jog our memories of what NBA stars looked like in their rookie years, and how dramatically they’ve changed (or how little they’ve changed), the folks at SportsBettingExperts.com created GIFs of the transformation some have made from then to now.
First, we start with LeBron James, formerly of the baggy jeans and tall tee. Just look at the change in his traps. His jersey used to be falling off of him; now he’s just terrifyingly muscular.
Then there’s Carmelo Anthony, also drafted in 2003 behind James, who had some fantastic braids back in the day. Other than that, not a lot’s changed. He even has the same mustache. I say bring back the braids, Melo.
The biggest change of all has to be James Harden, who came into the league with a closely trimmed beard and short hair and now, well, he’s “The Beard.”
There are some who look pretty much the same, like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. All are a bit bigger than when they got to the league, but not much else has changed. Westbrook doesn’t smile anymore, and Durant has a goatee. That’s about all that’s happened. Steph is the same.
Then, just for fun, there’s one of Chris “The Birdman” Anderson, detailing his many looks over the years, and it’s tremendous.
(h/t The Score)