The Hairier Side of Basketball
Who has the style to back up their skills?
Many pro athletes are indistinguishable from the neck up; their hairdos hidden beneath the helmets and baseball caps they wear. That’s not the case with basketball players—who stand head and shoulders above the rest, whether they want to or not.
Here are some of the more notable hairdos in the NBA today:
How often does the 12th man of an NBA team receive a standing ovation upon entering the game? Probably around the same number of times Allen Iverson has been excited to go to practice. That is, unless you are Brian Scalabrine. He rarely plays, but the fans go wild for him. Why? It’s the hair. More specifically: the red hair of an Irishman playing for a basketball team that has a leprechaun on its logo. Every rebound, every three, every hustle play would go unnoticed if it wasn’t for that bright red fire on top of Brian’s head. Sorry Matt Bonner and Robert Swift, but you’ve got nothin’ on the incumbent champion.
If you were to wander into a cave a few thousand years ago looking for human life, chances are, a look-alike of Chris Kaman or the Gasol brothers would be staring right back at you. Kaman’s “I could care less what is going on top of my head” look is what gives him such a unique hairstyle. Those long blond straggly locks stick around until they interfere with Kaman’s line of vision. Only then does Chris go for a clipping, which lucky for us, occurs about as often as Kaman makes a three-point shot.
Pau and Marc Gasol
They yell and scream at even the slightest contact and their bushy facial hair knows no bounds. Though Marc’s career may just be starting, his beard has already far surpassed that of his brother. And who can forget the actual hair on top of their heads? They look like the European ancestors of Chris Kaman’s great-great-great-great cavemen grandparents. Pau has established a tradition of running his hands through his unruly head whenever he makes an and-one shot or listens intently to Phil Jackson’s advice during a timeout. It’s must-see TV.
I imagine that if any player had the misfortune of making contact with Chris Andersen’s ever changing hairdos, his hand would probably become stuck to the “Birdman.” The amount of gel applied to Andersen’s head could supply an entire elementary school’s male population for a whole year, but it’s what forms his basketball identity. He’s covered all the hair bases: Mohawk? Check. Surfer dude look? Check. Chia pet look? Check.
Anderson Varejao, or as I like to call him, Sideshow Bob (from the Simpsons), plays basketball like a cartoon character. Varejao makes a living standing outside the lane, waiting patiently for an out-of-control guard to slash down the middle. Then, as if he’s in an episode of Tom and Jerry, he flops and flails his arms in the same way Tom reacts to being electrocuted by his arch nemesis. Varejao’s hair only adds to his theatrics. If you look close enough, each hair on Anderson’s head looks like rotini pasta. When that afro is in full force, it’s a nice bonus effect in getting a ref to whistle charging.
Other Noteworthy Hairdos for the 2010 Season:
Joakim Noah — The pigtail on steroids
Baron Davis/John Salmons — The Grizzly Men
Ron Artest/DeShawn Stevenson — “My team is on my head”
And no list would be complete without the top three weirdest hairdos of all-time…
3. Scot Pollard
Pollard made two unwanted contributions to the NBA. One, he told kids to “do drugs” while performing his usual bench-warming duties during the 2007 season. Almost as reprehensible was his odd choice of hairstyles. Over his 10-year career, Pollard sported a shaved head, a pony tail, two pony tails sticking out like the hairdo of a 10-year-old schoolgirl, and of course, the Mohawk. He also dyed his hair a variety of unnatural colors, which certainly did not help his cause. I am, however, talking about a guy who had career averages of 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds, so it could be argued that Scotty P did leave a lasting legacy of sorts.
2. Brad Miller
There are two absolute no-nos for white guys when it comes to hairstyles: never, ever wear braids and especially don’t attempt the cornrows look. Brad Miller committed the ultimate cardinal sin and proceeded to wear cornrows during the 2007 season. I witnessed Miller in all his glory at a Mavs vs. Kings preseason game, and I’ll be completely honest, I spent more time laughing and staring and Miller’s head than I did actually watching the game. Since then, Brad has stuck to more conservative hairdos, but that infamous period will live on in basketball history.
1. Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman is the king of the hair. Michael Jordan may be the greatest basketball player of all time, but he can’t touch Rodman’s hairstyle wizardry: A head with all the colors of the rainbow. Pure orange hair. Pure yellow hair. More face piercings than Phil Jackson has championship rings. I could go on all day, but I’ve got a 1,400-word limit. Rodman is a weird dude—that became painfully obvious when he wore a wedding dress to promote his autobiography. Still, when it comes to the strangest hairdos this league has ever seen, there’s no competition.