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 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
Rodman 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
Pound 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
Spree 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 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?
I 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
Due 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….