Sunday 18th February 2018,
The Hoop Doctors

6 NBA Hairstyles that Branded the Player

Michael Jordan Britney Spears Hairstyles Bald

September 24, 2008 – Dr. Browntorious

We’ve all had a whack haircut at one point or another right? The original flat top, a funky fade, having our basketball number shaved into the back or side of our head, etc. etc. But sometimes a hairstyle is more than just a way to look good or be on the edge of the latest trend. For some players throughout the history of the NBA, having a certain hairstyle has defined their image or brand. For example if someone said ‘Michael Jordan Hair’ i’m pretty sure most people would think of his shiny bald head. Very few would even remember how he looked with hair as a young player at the University of North Carolina or even during his early NBA years with the Chicago Bulls. Obviously there were other players with shaved heads before him, but Jordan made the shiny bald head and longer basketball shorts, cool and the norm.

So what are some of the other players that have defined their image by their hairstyle? Here are a few that come to mind for me:

Ben Wallace – “Fear the Fro”

Ben Wallace AfroBen Wallace is one of the hardest working ‘Blue-collar’ guys around in the NBA. He had to work twice as hard as most for virtually everything he achieved. He was in and out of the league and with a few teams before he finally became a shining star with the Detroit Pistons anchoring the middle. But when most people picture Big Ben what is it they visualize? I know for me personally it’s the teased out Afro with the headband on. The fans and media created a whole brand for Ben around ‘fear the fro’ that was so hyped, in one playoff run a few years back he had opposition shaking in their boots whenever he let his hair out….cause then you know he meant business.

Dennis Rodman – Every color under the sun

Dennis Rodman HaircolorRodman won two NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons, and he won three NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls. He is a past defensive player of the year, and considered to be one of the greatest rebounders of all time. But tell me when you think of Rodman you don’t immediately picture his crazy hair colors that he changed every month, week, or sometimes as often as daily? The guy was a fierce competitor on the court, but also one of the most eccentric players the league has ever seen off the court. He has had hair colors of blonde, red, blue, black, green, purple, etc., and sometimes combinations of each. He started dying his hair before his days with the Bulls, while he was a San Antonio Spur. Apparently he was inspired by a character from the Sylvester Stallone movie “Demolition Man”.

Allen Iverson – Cornrows

Allen Iverson CornrowsPound for pound, Allen Iverson has got to be ONE OF, if not THE greatest scorer of all time. When you consider his size it is amazing how many scoring achievements he has. When he came into the league his hair was kept pretty short, and he often speaks about the pressures and advice he got on how he should look or dress as an NBA professional. He always said ‘i’m not Michael Jordan and i’m not going to try to be’. In what has become conventional Iverson fashion he set his own more urban trend for a basketball player. I’m talkin’ about the cornrows. He varied the style over the years, sometimes switching to braids, but nothing beats the earlier years of Iverson cornrows. Classic.

Latrell Spreewell – Braids

Latrell Spreewell BraidsSpree was one of the early adopters of sporting braids hung out the back. Currently active players that have been known to sport this include Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf, Ricky Davis, Carmelo Anthony, and even previously mentioned Allen Iverson. Not all players can pull this look off, but it certainly worked well for Spree and became part of his brand or image. “Spree’s braids” even made it into a couple hip hop tracks as lyrics. I know many of you might immediately visualize Latrell Spreewell choking out current OKC Thunder coach P.J. Carlisemo when you hear his name, but for me it’s still his braids.

Brian Grant – Dreadlocks

Brian Grant DreadlocksBrian Grant the gentle giant right? Grant was 6’9″ and weighed over 270 lbs at one point and had a huge head of dreadlocks. It was a rather imposing and physical look that made his opposition nervous. It would appear, based solely on his persona, that he might snap and knock you out on any given scrap for a loose ball. Many shied away. Off the court however, over the years people in Miami came to realize Brian Grant was one of the gentler people in the NBA. A very giving player, who helped out the community with regularity. But when you say his name “Brian Grant” who doesn’t remember the Marley style dreads the big man was wearin’ back in tha day?

Anderson Varejao – Possible Perm?

Anderson Varejao PermI don’t know about you but I gotta believe that Anderson Varejao perms his hair. No way those curls can be ‘oh naturale’. Maybe so. Either way, Anderson Varajao makes a living on the hustle plays. Being the first guy to the ball, doing whatever it takes to get control of a loose ball, rebounding, and cleaning up the garbage on the offensive glass. All that and yet all I can think of when someone mentions Varejao’s name is his ‘huge hair’. I don’t want to even say ‘Fro cause it’s not really a ‘Fro. It’s more like a big mop sitting wildly on top of his head. He’s inspired many a bobble head night with that hair, and it’s definitely helped him stick out among the bench players across the league as having his own brand and style.

Honorable Mention: Pat Riley – Slick back

Pat Riley Slick HairDue to the fact that Riley didn’t start rockin’ the greased ‘slick back’ look until his coaching years, long after his playing days were over, I couldn’t rightfully include him in the list of hairstyles that defined a PLAYER’S image. However, Riles is certainly one of the all-time greatest coaches but will always be immediately visualized not hoisting his multiple trophies, but instead rockin’ the fancy italian suits and slicked back hair. Riles is money! The greatest thing about Riley’s image with the slick back hair is it hasn’t changed in years. Many of the other players mentioned change their hairstyle from time to time. Riles on the other hand had the same hair with the Showtime Lakers in the 80’s as he did with the Miami Heat in 2008. Just a little more grey….thanks Doleac!

Any other wild and crazy hairstyles that define a player am I missing? If so, leave a comment for the rest of the readers to reminisce and have a chuckle.

Oh wait I just thought of one….Joakim Noah…..oh wait another one is Robert Swift….gahhh to many to name…., Inc. Value Pack Banners 468x60 full banner

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  • You might want to do a quick edit and find a great pic of Steve Nash with a bald or hippy look :-)

  • I think if you took all the grease Riley’s had in his hair over the years you could probably solve the US oil problem

  • Jeffersoncalling

    This is hilarious! I agree with ethanator1088, Steve Nash should get his own section on that long hair he had. I always picture him putting it behind his hears while he dribbles up the floor to set up. Haha.

  • Heat_Fan

    Hey Natty that is funny about Riles oily hair. That slick back and suits were pure gangsta though! He was the show time coach to go with the show time point guard in Magic, and showtime team in the Lakers.

  • OU Fan

    The Boz!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Ted

    Slick Watts.

    He had the shaved head loooooong before Jordan popularized it.

  • Jonathan

    Rasheed Wallace is someone I definatly thought would be on this list, one of the first I though of.

  • Good reco’s boyz!

    Slick Watts for sure.

    Hey what about Anthony Mason? Or Larry Johnson aka Grandmama…ha ha….They were shaving designs and lines in their head long before most!

    @Jonathan – I like the Sheed reco. What would you call that style?

  • TMH

    Have to add in Jack Sikma (sp?) we still call out folks with perms as Sikmas.

  • Michael

    You’re not going back far enough. The player defined by the Fro is Artis Gilmore. The problem with using Big Ben is that you are never sure what style his hair will be from game-to-game.

  • Tige

    Another hairdo that jumped into my mind when I read the title of this post was Troy Hudson’s pom pons.

  • @TMH LOL “the sikma hairdo” hilarious!

    @Michael – you’re right about Gilmore, but lots of players were Fro’in it back then

    @Tige – Totally forgot about Hudson’s Pom Poms but that could also be attributed to Latrell Spreewell as well cause they were both doing it at the same time on the T-Wolves!

  • PrepChamps

    For honorably mention, I submit Anthony Mason and the “art” that was often inscribed into his head.

  • Mike

    Sam Perkins and the Flat Top

  • Pita Pit

    Anthony Mason. what about Anthony Mason. He was the first to shave all sorts of numbers, letters, and shapes into his head.

  • Dean

    Easy one….Michael Cage and his drippy jerry curl

  • Well I guess Anthony Mason and his various shaved designs are a definite miss! Mentioned multiple times, and I completely agree. Mason’s head was a work of Art on most nights.

  • The Zoner

    Michael Cage and myself were the last humans to have afros before they came back in style. Although I did not play in the league like he did. =0p

  • Matt

    Pat Riley should be up there at number 1. Everyone who watched ball in the 90’s remembers that guys hair.

  • @Matt would have put him up to the top, problem was I don’t think his hair was like that as a playa. Only as a coach…..he definitely needed mentioning though! Good call….

  • Jay

    i agree with the Nash one should be up here, it’s signature, until he shaved his head thats what he was KNOWN for

  • Norbu

    Patrick Ewing’s flat top…can’t picture him any other way

  • Others to consider:

    A.C. Green and Michael Cage with the Jeri Curl!

    Kobe with the Afro

  • Oh and Dominique and his S-Curl high top fade. He used to endorse Pro-Line hair care products!

  • Craig Newitt

    You can’t forget about Shawn Kemp with the little patch in front that made the top of his head look flat.

  • Kevin Michaels

    I can’t believe nobody mentioned Scottie Pippen, with the flattop- type thing

  • luke

    Ronny Turiaf fosho

  • P

    Anthony Mason is the biggest omission. He used to have different designs carves in his head every week

  • Steve

    Scot Pollard. Enough notorious hairdos for all.

  • itwasntme3000

    ron artest, i cant believe nobodies mentioned him yet

  • JKM

    Let’s not talk about guys who happened to have this or that hairdo during their careers. Let’s talk about guys who “go by their hair”, just like the original Doc’s idea was. And that would be:
    1. Chris Mullin’s military flattop
    2. AK47’s mohawk
    3. Vlade Divac’s beard – facial hair, but still hair

  • Rain

    @JKM you are so right. I totally agree with the mohawk too. The flat top is a good one but I don’t know if Mullin gets credit for that one.

    Vlade’s beard is definitely original and part of his personna. He even did shaving cream commercials. hahaha

  • BFish

    How about Moochie Norris? His lasting legacy in the NBA is the bat that got caught in that mass heap of hair.

  • Scrappy Coco

    Adam Morrison & Chris Kaman, they don’t look like ballers, they even wear both # 35.

  • @Scrappy Coco

    Yeah I guess you have to give some recognition to “The Stache” huh?

    As for Kaman… comment.

  • corbin

    Pat riley’s hairstyle has one of the most unique hairstyle of all of NBA’s greatest coaches as well as wearing the custom Armani suit. I think Pat Riley is a winner!