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Let’s Talk NBA Style: Hair Trends Amongst Black Athletes

Over the last couple of years, a staple within any pop culture news outlets and social media is the game day style of professional athletes. Not to start any beef, but I think it is safe to say that the best fashion statements come out of the NBA, especially compared to other professional sports league players. This assumption can be made alone by the number of paparazzi pictures that flood our twitters and spark such conversations. 

The NBA is the league known for its competitive play as its style, and one area the basketball players always show game is in the hairstyle department; a majority of the most remarkable players in the NBA rock the coolest hairstyles, and their fans ask for these particular styles when they visit their barbers and stylists.

Although the media spends so much time analyzing the designer clothes, shoes, and accessories of these athletes, how often do they notice or comment on their hairstyles? And to take that question one step further, how often do we as a society stop and appreciate the individuality players show us all on and off the court through their hair? This topic poses essential questions and begins conversations on the culture of the time and professional sports. 

Past and Present

Peak and unique hair expressions have seamlessly and gradually hit black America, with professional basketball being in the leadline of this evolution. From fades to braids, 'frohawks to mohawks, twists, dreadlocks, and dyes. Some of these hairstyles are not new; black folks have always been super creative with their hair since the beginning of time. However, in the past eras, precise haircuts heated up the community, and eventually, the NBA reflected and improved those individual trends. I mean, just think of all the NBA's 1990s and 1970s afros and cornrows, respectively. Today, when it comes to the guys' hairstyles, never before has one league rocked so many. There is no precise style that is "the style” – anything and everything rocks; gloriously so. 

In the 90s and early 2000s, hairstyles on the court were minimal, if not nonexistent. When you think of the basketball stars of that time, Jordan, Pippen, Shaq, Kobe – you don’t think of their hair. Why? Because often, the star athletes of this time were bald or had very short hair. Today, players bring back originality to their grooming habits and hairstyles similar to their past predecessors, which is something to celebrate. 

We are currently experiencing a resurgence of self-expression and style of basketball players, especially black NBA athletes, through their hair. In the 70s and 80s, the heyday of afros, funk, and fun, having long and unique hair was nothing new or out of the ordinary. If you Google basketball players from this time, it’s hard to imagine how other players stayed concentrated on the game. Fast forward to the 90s and early 2000s, hairstyles on the basketball court were the complete opposite.  

Today and Future Trends

Today, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see expressive hairstyles on black athletes at an NBA game, such as braids, fades, tapers, and frohawks. All of these styles are for individuals with longer and textured hair. That is where haircare comes into the conversation and the best tips and tricks for taking care of your hair, which is why the products these men use are so essential to their looks. 

Today with social-media megaphones and cross-cultural pollination smashing style boundaries, the NBA hair is embraced as a new sneaker of sorts – something to customize and flash. If there is one aspect that describes today's hair era, it's the texture. Men have never been as expressive and individual with their looks! 

Rookie Ja Morant is among the best prospects in the league today with a great set of skills. The Memphis Grizzlies point guard is also on top of the curve with his hairstyle that makes him stand out. Kyrie Irving. Much respect to the classic Caesar- close, equal length all-round – that will never go out of fashion. Made even greater with his beard connection. On the other hand, we have Jimmy Butler. Similar to his game, which after five seasons with the Chicago Bulls has shifted from anonymous to All-Star, his hair has become a marquee attraction. Perhaps it's the perfect and excellent top-layer dreaded twists, or maybe the unique bald fade leading to his well-chiseled jaw-line, or simply the man getting mega buckets. 

Kenneth Faried, Elfrud Payton, Demarre Carroll, Imna Shumpert, Paul George, Karl Anthony – these are just a few examples of the undefeated favorite and incredible presentations of the black hair apex. 

Hair, similar to any avenue of self-expression, is an essential part of anyone’s self-confidence. For athletes, feeling good and looking good equates to playing well. If self-expression through hair allows any player to feel their best, it should be seen as a W for the whole industry. Why? Because winning a championship doesn’t require any specific hairstyle, so why not have fun with it? Hopefully, this form of self-expression continues well into the future for the players' sake and the viewer’s enjoyment. 

Nile Hair products are dedicated to all men who struggle to maintain their hair due to insufficient representation in the men's hair aisle. We’re here to help you achieve your ideal all-star look. So get yours today to finally pull off the NBA superstar look you want!


Florence Dumas & Madi Resnic Copywriters. Shamillah Iga Editor.


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