Although, not taken from the All-Star weekend festivities, the photo above proves a point about the NBA today and where players are taking their fashion cues. For the sake of argument, if we were playing word association and I happened to drop “NBA,” “Phoenix” and “Fashion” into the mix, I’m pretty sure images of 7-button, lime green suits, jorts and sweatsuits would spring to mind. Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, the NBA has grown up a bit, due in no small part to the collision of several factors like the league-mandated dress code that went into effect three seasons ago and a more enterprising, boardroom-ready set of superstars emerging (see James, LeBron and Paul, Chris) as the dominant faces of the game. Additionally, NBA players traditionally take their sartorial inspiration from hip hop stars and a trickle down effect seems to be underway. With guys like Kanye West, who now calls fashion week his second home, and Jay-Z rocking Buddy Holly shades at a Knicks game, the norm has swung from the gaudy bling bling days of the early 2000s to a more refined, dapper NBA player. Yes, dapper NBA players. Somewhere cats and dogs are living together.
And now, partially inspired by Ric Bucher’s piece in ESPN the Mag, we’ve compiled a quick list of the 5 best dressed players at NBA All-Star Weekend. Why only five? Well, it’s still the NBA after all. SO without any further ado…
5. Amar’e Stoudemire – Not only did he make his name more stylish by adding the accent mark/apostrophe this year (seriously, it’s not on any of his rookie cards or anything), it would appear that he decided to channel the energy usually reserved for playing defense into buying jeans and a hoodie that actually fit like they’re supposed to. We applaud the effort.
Top four after the jump:
4. Chris Paul – You could take that guy home to mama and it wouldn’t be weird. That’s all we’re sayin’.
3. LeBron James – The current GQ cover boy continues to be the leader in early MVP consideration, surprisingly strong commercial acting ability and now fashion. We say he wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry too before he dies.
2. Dwayne Wade – Urkel-chic has officially hit the NBA. It’s so nerdy and preppy, I feel like he’s a missing cast member from Dead Poet’s Society. It’s great. Love it. One interesting subplot for the semi-gay casual NBA fan to follow for the second half of the season will be to see if Wade can keep up his newfound sartorial dominance of LeBron.
1. Allen Iverson – Once the posterboy for the NBA’s falsely perceived image as a league of thugs and bastion for the worst parts of street culture, Iverson has gone and chopped off the hair that once defined him as much as his tattoos. We need to ask — Hey, Allen, how do you feel about the new do?
Now with him and Carmelo Anthony both having shed their braids for more conservative cuts, it seems that one chapter of the NBA may have finally closed for good. Lookin’ good A.I.! Here’s to a more refined, stylish NBA. Now that’s a league we can all be proud of.
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