As the NBA Finals wind down, with the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers both aiming to claim that coveted gilded basketball statue, you'd think that team statistics would outweigh team aesthetics. But with the Cavaliers' LeBron James and his teammate Tristan Thompson showing up to after-game interviews bedecked in mock turtlenecks and chapeaux plucked almost straight from the Django Unchained costume department, it feels like their personal style is as much a game-changer as their jumpshot.
Recently, off-court fashion has been playing a huge part of a pro baller's appeal to fans. Just look to Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook's penchant for colorful, eye-popping prints that garnered him a design deal with Barneys New York or LeBron James' infamous Vogue cover with supermodel Gisele Bündchen. Distinguishing themselves from droves of equally talented and (ahem) visually arresting opponents, the NBA's most fashionable players have proven that style appeal is as lucrative and culturally significant as a Nike deal. Thing is, while their three-pointers may be effortless, some of these "outfits" just seem like NBA's finest are trying too hard.
Just in time for Game 6 of the Finals, we look at 8 of NBA fashion's worst style offenders. (Trust me, there are more.)
1. Carmelo Anthony
Hats are, like, "a thing" with a Carmelo Anthony, a man who already towers over every gottdang person in
the any room. With a love for dizzying, clashing prints and splashy socks, Melo — as the New York Knicks power forward is called by his wife, LaLa — continually executes no chill when it comes to his wardrobe. It hasn't kept him from recently copping a deal with Nickelodeon to become the "creative director" of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of merchandise. "Turtles by Carmelo", though. Why not?
2. Russell Westbrook
Would you buy bedazzled compression tights from this man?
Me neither, but Barneys New York believes you will, and has put a hefty amount of support behind the showy, albeit adorable, OKC point guard. Endearing himself to millions with the near-clownish cherry red eyeframes during the 2012 NBA Finals, the 26-year-old has turned his spurious fashion sense into real business. I wish he would turn that same drive into real, full-length pants, too.
3. Dwyane Wade
My main beef with Dwyane Wade is that he has continually made his lovely wife, Gabrielle Union, look suspect on the red carpet. With his merciless infatuation with silk, garish colors, and ill-conceived coral leather moto jackets (bruh, enough with the orange), Wade often clashes miserably with his otherwise elegant date while trying to make fashion risks that hardly pay off.
4. Amar'e Stoudemire
In 2011 the then-New York Knicks darling Amar'e Stoudemire taught Vogue's European Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles to "slam dunk." That, admittedly, was adorable.
What would transpire next in Stoudemire's fashion escapades were less so: Hooded fur vests WORN INSIDE, a scourge of bow ties, and silk shantung suiting? Despite having developed a short-lived womenswear fashion line with Rachel Roy, Stoudemire really didn't pick up much in the ways of dressing for his own body.
5. Iman Shumpert
The problem is Mr. Shumpert's barber. This man, whoever he is, is not honest. He is lying to the 24-year-old Cleveland Cavalier shooting guard. Like, a lot. Because the hairstyle has reworked Shumpert's body into the shape of a pencil. Interestingly enough, the 'do manages to overpower the clashing prints and the pedal pushers that hardly budge from Shumpert's calves. So, that's saying a lot.
6. James Harden
There are life decisions that James Harden has made that I can't stand behind: The dumping of Amber Rose and the three he's committed above. I'm not sure if Harden has an amazing sense of humor I'm just not picking up on or his odd panache of camo pants, bright sneakers, long button-ups buttoned to the top, and that stance is a "lewk".
All I know is that his beard is the best thing going for him, which in essence means the Houston Rockets shooting guard need not shave. Ever.
7. Tristan Thompson
Tristan is cute, if misguided. The Cleveland Cavaliers power forward is 24 years old, in his first playoffs, apparently making more money than he knows what to do with, and spending that cash on specious chapeaus.
Looking like any other blipster headed into a speak-easy on a Friday night, Thompson is actually headed to shoot hoops. I would mock him more for this silly charade of his if I didn't want to give him my phone number so badly.
8. LeBron James
This is LeBron in paisley shantung suiting.
This is LeBron in a red silk tux.
This is LeBron in Tom Ford suiting and a mock turtleneck.
I bring these all up to show a certain progression which is working for a man who wore this sweater only two years ago and infamously wore this suit twelve years ago:
Game recognizes game.
While my critiques may be harsh, it is admittedly fascinating to watch men — especially black men — toy with gender and race binaries when it comes to their attire. Sauntering into sports arenas in custom Tom Ford suits these players do debunk myths around representation despite their oftentimes garish execution. But directing focus away from the court, from the very extraordinary skill that distinguishes these men from every other smartly dressed laymen on this planet, means they might take their eye off the all-important ball.
Marjon Carlos is a style and culture writer for Fusion who boasts a strong turtleneck game and opinions on the subjects of fashion, gender, race, pop culture, and men's footwear.