Worst NBA Haircuts of the Season… So Far

January 14, 2021by Zach Selwyn0
BasketballFeaturedNBAOpinion Features

Worst NBA Haircuts of the Season… So Far

Worst NBA Player Haircuts: Anthony Davis & LeBron James - Los Angeles Lakers

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Watching a recent press conference with my favorite Flat Earther, Kyrie Irving, I noticed a tattoo on his forearm celebrating the TV show ​Friends -​ and apparently, when asked why he had it tatted, he said, “What can I say? I’m a fan of the show!” Unfortunately, tattoos are forever, which is why I worry about Kyrie.

After all, I still have ​Beverly Hills, 90210 ​tattooed across my back from 1993.

I’m kidding about the ​90210 ​tat. But Kyrie’s ode to Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox got me thinking about the show and more specifically the famous “Rachel” haircut that took the world by storm in the ‘90s. It made me think of bad NBA haircuts. After watching a few games this season, it felt like it was time to discuss some of the worst NBA player haircuts on the court from the past... and modern-day.

Worst NBA Haircuts of the Season…So Far

The History of NBA Haircuts: The Long and Short of It

Haircuts have been statement pieces in the NBA for a long time now. From Julius Erving’s afro to Bill Walton’s white-boy afro to Jarrett Allen’s, well, current super-afro – player’s hair and tats say a lot about their personalities. When Allen Iverson first stepped on the court donning cornrows and tattoos in the mid-’90s, the league went nuts, saying that his “street culture” style would be bad for the image of the league.

This, in turn, led to David Stern’s ridiculous dress code in 2005 requiring “business attire” as a way to limit the hip-hop-influenced styles that were taking over player wardrobes. For the next decade, the league looked like a bunch of uncomfortable investment bankers sitting on the benches in mustard-colored suits. Still, Iverson’s cornrows were so influential, that even soft crossover victims like Tyronn Lue eventually twisted up and braided their hair... Only to have Iverson step over him in the NBA Finals.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="450"]NBA Dress Code Blog: April 2006 Richard Hamilton fully embraced the Motor City and started dressing like a used car salesman.[/caption]

Other haircut trends that have ruled the league in the past include J.R. Reid’s “Box Top,” which became known as a “High-Top Fade” in the '90s and sat atop nearly every player’s head - from Scottie Pippen to Ray Allen to Patrick Ewing. Then there was the “crazy bald head” – which some credit to Jordan, but others say began with Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, and even Sam Cassell (or the rap group Onyx). And of course, the dreads, which only a select few players can ever pull off. (I think Chris Kaman had some stringy caveman look for a while, which is the white guy version of this.)

The Cornrows Comeback

Being that we are 30 years past these styles, I’m surprised that we are not seeing the resurgence that they deserve – After all, the cornrows have been popping up again lately on Paul George, Kawhi Leonard (who, to be fair, has kept his rows going for the better part of a decade now), and on Anthony Davis in the NBA Finals last year, whose weird little braid patterns looked like an old macrame pot holder my grandmother made in the 1970s.

As awkward as AD’s hair looked, nothing looked more uncomfortable this season than Steph Curry’s attempt at cornrows, which lasted all of two games. When the nicest player in the NBA tries to look tougher, it can often backfire, and the Twitterverse went off on the two-time MVP. It reminded me of when MC Hammer suddenly went “gangsta” in his 1994 comeback attempt. Smartly, Curry took out the cornrows after a week and has been playing like an MVP candidate ever since.


Kuzma’s Cuts

AD’s teammate Kyle Kuzma has attempted some pretty awful hairstyles in the past couple of years, culminating in the blonde Q-tip look that had most of the NBA giggling and calling him “STAN,” from the Eminem song of the same name, in 2019. Luckily, the real Slim Shady sat back down and Kuzma changed to a more natural look. Kuz already has a baby face and questionable tattoos. So, when he brought out the braided poodle tail hair early last season – that was about as unattractive as the “Kuzmania” tattoo he has on his right shoulder – he felt the shade once again. On top of that, Kuzma has the ​100!​ emoji tatted in red just below his left jersey tank top. And every time I see it, it makes me want to take my phone out and start texting somebody.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="484"]Kyle Kuzma goes blond with his new hair | News Break Focus on hitting your corner 3s, Kuzma, not dropping an album and picking Hailie up from school.[/caption]

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RIP Elfrid Payton’s Wave

I will say that I am disappointed that New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton is playing with such a normal head of hair these days. Remember back when he was a rookie? The dude had a ten-foot rideable wave on his head that wouldn’t have been out of place in the film ​Point Break.​ After at least three plays where his hair got in his way of scoring or caused a turnover, he cut it. Now, he’s rocking a grown man cut and playing grown man ball. But that haircut stood out to me as much as anything Iman Shumpert attempted until his career ended with a small Nets run earlier this year.

Shumpert, at one point, had the tuft, the ball on his head, the flat top, the unwatered plant... I mean the dude belongs in the Hair Hall of Fame. Too bad he’s out of the league.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="980"]Elfrid Payton Cut His Trademark Hair [Photo of Before & After] Goodbye, Elfrid Payton’s hair. We’ll miss you.[/caption]

Embrace the Bald

And then there are the players who refuse to accept the receding hairline... Karl Malone was one of these guys. So was Clyde Drexler for a while. Trae Young is a couple of years away from thinning out to the point of shaving. The most famous hair-loss denier ever, though, is LeBron James.

LeBron James

I can’t talk about bad hair in the NBA unless I discuss LeBron. I know his hair has long been a topic of conversation. But as a middle-aged man who has followed hairlines his entire life, I can break down the LeBron James hair timeline like this: LeBron has had 1-3 hair transplants in his career. The most obvious coming when he had that strange fleshy line on the side of his head a few seasons back, which was simply, a transplant scar that even made its way into his build on the NBA 2K18 video game. A year later, the scar was mysteriously gone, and his hairline was thicker.

If you watch him in the film ​Trainwreck​, he has a full head of glorious hair. But this is thanks to a miracle powder called Toppik that even I wear when I host ​Run the Table ​on this very website. LeBron now has good and bad hair days. But as he approaches his late 30s, he has only two hair options: Ignore the haters, or shave the dome... He will never shave the dome.

Carlos Boozer

Another option, of course, is to go the way of the infamous Carlos Boozer “Regen spray-painted hair incident” of 2012. One day, Boozer arrived on the court sporting a full... canvas of hair, you could say. It was a painted-on job, and it looked ridiculous. The announcers had a field day with his comical skull paint. Amazingly, these days, Boozer has a great sense of humor about the event and claims that, yes, he was trying to shade in some bald spots – but it went too far and that he “washed his hair 7 or 8 times trying to get it off.” Thin hairline or not, this is a look that even the most desperate balding superstars must avoid. (You hear me, Trae Young?)

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="700"]Carlos Boozer Finally Talked About His Painted-On Hair (VIDEO) | SLAM It honestly looks like he drew on his head with black Sharpie.[/caption]

Honorable Mentions

In the past, who could forget regrettable haircuts like Jeremy Lin’s rubber cemented railroad spikes, Andrei Kirilenko’s weird Bieber-like hair helmet, and Dwayne Schintzius’ Richard Marx-level ‘80s mullet? There has been a multitude of “hair-don'ts” that will live on in NBA folklore...

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="541"]Former NBA Player Dwayne Schintzius Dead at Age 43 After Leukemia Battle |  Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights I swear I’ve seen this guy on Cobra Kai.[/caption]

Hit me up on Twitter @ZSelwyn and share any terrible hair misses you spot. And I’ll be sure to update this worst NBA haircuts conversation as the year rolls on... In the meantime, I’ll be calling Carlos Boozer for some Regen to paint on my bald spot for The Odds Factory Zoom meeting we have in a couple of minutes… Luckily, we have no dress code.

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