Your first thought? Was it, “Oh, brother, not again.” Everyone can sense the groaning and moaning across the crowd – and the humongous television’d audience – whenever Russell Westbrook takes the stage. Or, Dwayne Wade. Or, LBJ. It’s like being at the table when the male host has too much to drink and snaps at his wife. You just kind of pick n’ roll away (*pun absolutely intended).
(But, really, what can you expect from a guy who went to school in Beverly Hills?)
Basketball stars and their style. Or, their lack of, depending on who you are. They’re not clean cut like Barney Stinson or… Charles Bronson? They are flashy. They’re exciting, if you like seizures. They’re the fashion equivalent of the music video for Kanye West’s “All of the Lights”.
The New York Times seemed offended and almost appalled when Westbrook wore his newest and most vibrant wardrobe to the 2012 NBA Finals, which is what you see in the video above. Their disbelief is subdued and confused, but it’s there nonetheless:
“The shirt, adorned with images of singing and dancing hipsters dressed in funky pastels – suspended in a jazzy jam session of horn and bass players, with random cars zooming past – was an NBA finals fashion statement begging to go viral.
“Westbrook tied together the ensemble with what has become his signature accessory, a pair of lensless oversize red eyeglass frames, which make him look like a cross between the preppy Carlton Banks of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the geeky Steve Urkel of Family Matters.”
The New York Times proceeded to launch into the history of the NBA’s most innovative menswear discoveries. It’s a good story, although their understanding of what makes it popular and why is about as deep as their understanding of the Internet.
But, they got the point: this isn’t new.
Basketball players have been bringing the noise – and the funk – forever. They started superfly. (That was the whole basis for NBA Street, after all.) Dr. J was actually a soul doctor. Have you ever seen Pete Maravich’s old Atlanta Hawks jersey?
Wilt Chamberlain was the seven-foot-tall embodiment of the term “Spanish Fly”.
Even Michael Jordan and his unlimited roster of colo(u)rful sneakers. Those have been flying off the shelves for 20 years.
Basketball is funky. It is cool. It is hip hop.
To scoff or cringe would be to deny it of its very essence.