The NBA is synonymous with style. Whether it’s the prime kicks the players are rocking or the clothes they’re wearing before games, after games or on red carpets, basketball and fashion have teamed up more and more as the game has achieved a larger prominence in American popular culture (bizarrely, this has all happened under the dictatorial watch of David Stern, but that irony is a post for another time). With all that being said, NBA players aren’t limited to just the clothes and accessories most people associate with style. They’ve also used their own bodies to showcase individuality that can be lost when everyone is wearing the same uniform on the court.
While hairstyles often mean the hair on people’s heads, facial hair has emerged as a canvas for players to showcase some of their zaniness. The NBA doesn’t have some atavistic facial hair policy like they’re the New York Yankees, and so players are provided an opening to indulge in some pretty peculiar facial hair as well. We decided to highlight some of the best contemporary head hair and facial hairstyles in today’s NBA.
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20. MIKE WOODSON (Goatee)
19. CARLOS BOOZER (Hair)
Knicks coach Mike Woodson has a goatee anyone would be proud to call their own. It’s not tufts of hair, but a veritable block of black that adorns his face, surrounding his mouth like a inexorable moat of burning oil. The same could be said for Carlos Boozer’s plasticine cap that is one step away from a fused helmet. We put them together because it’s almost as if Woodson’s goatee could be Boozer’s hair, or vice versa. We’re not really sure which one will be exposed as either a spray on, or a rug, or some other duplicitous hair substitute, but both bring us a lot joy – even if they turn out to be real. Woodson’s in particular is much more lively and endearing than the simple ‘stache or full beard he used to rock back in Atlanta or the time he was missing eyebrows after an unfortunate mistake at the barber. Woodson is much more surreal with the goatee, despite the unfortunate doppelgÃ¤ngers. It’s even got it’s own Twitter account!
18. PAT RILEY (Hair)
We’re partially convinced the Riley hairstyle for the 1980s Showtime Lakers is the reason Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas decided on their particular look for Gordon Gecko, but Pat Riley’s hair seems to be an extension of himself: neat, with never a strand out of place. We can imagine Riley runs the Heat organization the same way. It might seem silly to assign someone a personality based off their hair, but Pat Riley has always had a very no-nonsense approach to his organization and the various teams he’s coached can attest to his borderline suicidal practices. It only makes sense that he’d slick back his hair so stiff it’s as if he lacquers it on every morning. But, remember, Riley also played for the Lakers, and he wasn’t so buttoned down in those days.
17. ANDREI KIRILENKO (Hair)
AK-47 has played well this season after taking a sabbatical in his home country of Russia last year, but that doesn’t mean his hair has gotten any less goofy. He came into the season with his coiffed locks resting comfortably over his ears. It was similar to his time in Utah, but with one distinct difference: it wasn’t a mullet. He’s gone for the reverse too, where he sheared the edges and spiked the top, but Kirilenko’s decidedly Eastern European hair will forever be dear to our hearts, even if he’ll always look like a stand-in for Ivan Drago.
16. KENNETH FARIED (Hair)
The “Manimal” really seems to have a lion’s mane with tendril-like braids jumping up and down on his back as he leaps three times for every leap by a normal man. Yet he moves with the grace of a gazelle. The kinetic Kenneth Faried has some truly awesome dreadlocks that adorn his head, and there are still plenty of opposing power forwards that see them in their dreams as jaunty harbingers of doom after Faried jumps up to swat their shots. But like NFL players whose dreadlocks trail from under their helmet, Faried’s hair has proved too hard to resist pulling for some opponents.
15. CHRIS KAMAN (Hair)
If this were a few years ago, Kaman might be number one on this list. His nordic Cousin It for the Clippers was the stuff of legends, and all the more so because he’s in dire need of some Propecia. Maybe it’s his snow white skin and the baldness, but from the neck up, Kaman looks like just your run-of-the-mill middle manager at Denny’s. But because he’s a talented big man (when healthy), we get to watch him play basketball. Now just don’t tell him we mentioned his bald spot because he’s also a bit scary.
14. REGGIE EVANS (Beard)
We’re not gonna lie: Reggie Evans is almost the personification of a beard. His style of play is bushy and unrefined, and his beard mimics that hardworking, woodsmen work ethic his game engenders. When you think of beards, it’s hard not to think of guys chopping wood in flannel, and Reggie Evans would be an incredibly hardworking member of the logger set. Because of his size and skills – generally lost on the laymen (seriously, watch him the next time a shot goes up; his butt finds the knees of the nearest available big man as he boxes out on a subconscious level) – we get to enjoy his beard on the hardwood.
13. STEVE NASH (Hair)
Steve Nash has gone to Los Angeles, but he’s also gone Hollywood. The formerly mop-topped fireplug from Phoenix is now sporting a very LA ‘do, and it reverberated around the league when he arrived at L.A.’s Staples Center on opening night sporting a salmon sweater and a much abridged set of locks. Nash even admitted he’d “gone Hollywood” to Craig Sager before the season started. Before, Nash’s draping mane as he raced up and down the court for Phoenix was as ubiquitous as a Jack McCallum penned book. But now, he’s rocking the “Gatsby” (that’s what Kobe calls it, anyway) and it’s as closely-cropped as Mike Brown‘s Princeton offense turned out to be for the Lakers’ bigs. Personally, we miss the frosted tips of his Dallas days with Dirk, but regardless of how Nash is wearing his hair, you can be sure he deserves mention on this list.
12. METTA WORLD PEACE (Hair)
The artist formerly known as Ron has had a long and illustrious career with his hair, most notably during the Los Angeles Lakers’ last title run during the 2009-10 season. Whether he was shaving “Tru Warier” (trademark) into his dome in Indiana, “King” during his Sacramento days (can’t you just imagine him with the current iteration of the Kings?), the big “R” when he was in Houston, or the aforementioned year in L.A. when he scribbled “Defense” in Japanese, Hebrew and Hindi, before eventually settling on the more appropriate “LA” moniker. This year, he’s slimmed down and kept his hair as lean as his new physique, but there’s no telling what new ideas he has in store for his head, and in case he does go otherworldly again at the barbershop, we’re including him.
11. NICK YOUNG (Hair)
10. SPENCER HAWES (Hair)
9. ANDREW BYNUM (Hair)
What is going on in Philadelphia? Two players acquired this offseason, Nick Young and Andrew Bynum, plus an old Philadelphia standby, Spencer Hawes (big up to another Spencer), have unveiled some untraditional haircuts this season, and in the case of Bynum, it’s coincided with another interminable stay on Philadelphia’s bench while his creaky knees convalesce. Coach Doug Collins can’t – in good conscience – advise his players about their hair, since his bleaching disaster had all of us aghast back during his commentating days with TNT in 2007. Pro-tip: never bleach after you turn 40.
Bynum’s fro coincided with the beginning of the season, and Twitter exploded when he wore his hot comb fritz on the Sixers bench. Hawes has recently shorn his head of the vestiges of Schintzius past, but there are still plenty of images left to peruse of Hawes’ soupÃ§on mullet even if we only remember his Seattle Space Needle days (RIP Supersonics). Also, Spencer gets bonus points for the mustache addendum.
Nick Young is no stranger to entertaining outfits, but now it’s his current crop of hair that’s left us wondering what in the hell he’s thinking. The smooth shooting and defense averse guard for Philadelphia is joining his teammate Bynum on the blown out bouffant train, but it also appears to be a family affair.
8. AMIR JOHNSON (Hair)
Possibly the newest addition to this list, Toronto Raptor power forward/center Amir Johnson shaved the Raptors logo into his hair and then dyed it red. The mercurial forward has been no stranger to controversy this season: Early in December, Amir was ejected for throwing his mouth guard at a ref, and he laughingly admitted to double-dribbling during Toronto’s win against Portland earlier this month. But it’s the haircut that puts him on this list, and you’re not likely to find this amount of detail or creativity elsewhere else in the league. While the actual amount of work it took to get this look trumps just about everyone, we’re all worried about if, or when, the Raptors decide to unload Amir. But if he’s traded, like Metta before him, Amir will probably adjust and get some other logo shaved into his noggin.
7. IMAN SHUMPERT (Hair)
The most amusing thing about Iman Shumpert’s offseason decision to rock a flattop is the continual referencing to Christopher “Kid” Reid. Kid is one half of the legendary comedy and hip-hop duo, Kid N’ Play. This is amusing simply for the anachronistic references espoused by bloggers that were barely out of the crib when Kid N’ Play’s two biggest movies, House Party and House Party 2, came out back in 1990 and 1992. Iman Shumpert was actually born the same year House Party came out, but that still hasn’t stopped him from wearing the high-top fade like it never went out of style (In our humble opinion, Norris Cole is just riding Shumpert’s coat-tails). Shump’s long time spent recovering from an ugly knee injury suffered during the Knicks’ first round playoff loss to Miami last May has meant a lot of time on the bench, but he’s meeting with doctor’s this week to decide whether he can return to full contact practices, and he could be back on the court before the end of January. Regardless of when he next enters a game for the Knicks, the Garden fans have already been treated to his sideline steez made so famous the year Shumpert was born.
6. ANTHONY DAVIS (Eyebrows)
Perhaps Davis should be higher on this list. His eyebrows might be even more famous than he is at this point as injuries have kept him out of more than a few games for New Orleans during his rookie season. Before he had even played a single game in the NBA, he’d trademarked his unibrow. Much like our number one spot, there have been all sorts of memes associated with Davis’ prominent eyebrows. In fact, there have already been posts devoted entirely to the 10 greatest Anthony Davis unibrow tributes. The only reason he dropped out of our top five is the lack of actual, you know, hair. Everyone else on this list has more hair as part of their tribute, so we had to dock Davis some points for that. Regardless, we’ll be seeing a lot of Davis’ trademarked unibrow as he’s just begun his NBA career. Maybe he’ll make the top of our next hair list.
5. JOAKIM NOAH (Hair)
Like Varejao, Noah’s game is almost as ubiquitous as his mane. He’s always had longer hair, and although he wears it in a ponytail while he’s banging down low, it’s his hair that most people think of when you say the name: Joakim Noah. Perhaps it’s because he tries to tame it for games that we gave Varejao the nod over Noah (Varejao uses an inconspicuous headband and lets his tresses flow over his shoulders for games), but Noah’s hair shouldn’t be overlooked in the pantheon of NBA hairstyles. He came into the league with a Bulls cap failing to tame the hornet’s nest on his head, but he’s remained true to a certain Rastafarian ethos, and the hair is just a natural extension of his mellow vibe. Noah’s laid back personality matches his barber-repellant cranium, but when he hits the court, it’s time to tame the wild hair with a hair tie, and get down to work.
4. ANDERSON VAREJAO (Hair)
There are very few professional athletes as recognized for their flowing tresses as Anderson Varejao. Before Varejao became the NBA’s leading rebounder this season and subsequent trade fodder for the rebuilding Cavaliers, his tousled tresses were at the forefront of any list depicting the NBA’s best presentation of hair follicles. Sure, he bears an uncanny resemblance to a blow-dried Robin Lopez, and it’s not like his hair is that insane, but he gets points for his longevity. While a lot of guys on this list are various one-and-done facial hair or hairstyle wonders, Varejao is totally conjoined with his bouncy mop top. His resemblance to a certain Simpson‘s character also helps his case for one of the more unusual coiffures in the contemporary NBA.
3. DREW GOODEN (Beard & Neck)
2. DeSHAWN STEVENSON (Beard)
These two go together for their facial hair bet back in the 2007 season. They both spent their offseason together in Orlando and after Drew started to grow a beard, DeShawn made a comment. Drew’s rebuttal led to a bet to see which man could grow his facial hair the longest before succumbing to basic grooming etiquette and trimming the messes on their face. In 2008, the winner was declared when Stevenson claimed Gooden had finally shorn his abyss of a beard in the offseason. Today, Stevenson continues to sprout some pretty overt chin growth, while Gooden has shaved the neck soul patch and the braided beard in favor of a more traditional look. But even trimmed and bald on top, Gooden has to be included for the zaniness he participated in earlier in his career. We’re all still waiting for the re-match between these two, and until that happens Stevenson is the victor.
1. JAMES HARDEN (Beard)
Fear the Beard has replaced Fear the Deer (sorry Bucks fans, but Bogut isn’t even playing in Oakland) in the NBA’s assonance-heavy nickname brinksmanship, and Harden’s trade to Houston only means his famous chin music celebrated by The Flaming Lips‘ Wayne Coyne in Oklahoma City now gets the T-Bone Walker blues treatment in Houston. Through 33 games, Harden is averaging 26.4 points per game, which is the fifth-best scoring average in the league. He also has the Rockets off to a 20-14 start that puts them in the thick of an increasingly crowded Western Conference playoff picture. His omnipresent beard remains the focal point of any marketing campaign surrounding the slippery off-guard. It’s been immortalized by fans as a haircut, a cake and – somewhat scarily, since it’s permanent – a tattoo. We probably should have included the 22-year-old on our list of future Hall Famers under 25 because the idea of a bearded bust is fun to imagine.
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