I recently wrote my first article for the NBA about how the arriving tunnel is the new runway. I’ll be a recurring style correspondent for the NBA, so look out for more of my editorials(Upscale)
Like many NBA fans, I was watching TNT on Oct. 30th as they covered one of the most anticipated games of the new season. LeBron James’ return to Cleveland was dominating the coverage across the sports networks, but as a die-hard basketball fan turned fashion blogger I was shamelessly less intrigued by The King’s return home, and more interested in the pre-game coverage to see who wore what as they arrived to the game. So when LeBron made his cinematic appearance through the arena tunnel before the game, I was attentive and locked in. I knew it was an important night for him and his brand and I was certain that LeBron was going to dress the part. And that’s just when it donned on me – the NBA tunnel is the player’s runway. We’ve just been late to our seats.
Today’s NBA player uses their arrival to the arena the same way a fashion model uses the runway at a show. The same attitude and passion the models have walking the runway for the latest Givenchy collection is the same demeanor the players have adopted walking through the tunnel before the game. Their personal stylist acts as the designer in the sense that they prepare the athlete with style direction, fittings, and sometimes even a walkthrough to help the athlete execute the desired vision for their brand. Star players such as Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook and Nick “Swaggy P” Young are some of the faces spearheading this movement. Each of these players have leveraged the NBA runway to not only separate themselves from their peers, but to also gain access to new opportunities within fashion. As they say, to be great you have to want to stand out from the rest and willing to take all the risks.
Dwyane Wade has been pushing the envelope when it comes to style, two years ago he arrived for Game 4 of the Miami Heat playoff series against the Chicago Bulls wearing a navy double-breasted jacket and matching suit from the Gucci Spring 2013 Collection. His look was straight off the runway and executed flawlessly, except for the fact that unlike the runway model DWade decided to crop the pants calf high. Like his play, Wade’s look was very calculated and mature. Dwyane quickly built a name for himself as one of the most fashion forward men – a risk taker – in sports and within a year announced a neckwear collaboration with Tie Bar and a sock line collaboration with Stance. Great risks equal can reap greater rewards.
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook’s style is almost identical to his play. It’s intense, shocking, in your face, risky and extremely confident. He has quickly done his damage by not shying away from bright colors, elaborate prints and interesting cropped pant choices. Russell’s fashion risks have led him to designing an exclusive capsule collection for the luxury department store Barneys New York, which hit stores earlier this year. The collection consisted of an assortment of different jackets, shirts, shorts, pants, and accessories.
Nick Young took the self-proclaiming approach and drew attention to his style by giving himself the nickname “Swaggy P.” With his unique haircut and style choices, he has proven that the moniker is rightfully his. Championing a personal style that matches his game – flashy, fun, street and versatile – you can tell it’s always about swag for Nick.
As the 2014-2015 season rolls on, remember the game doesn’t just start at tip-off. The fashion game starts much earlier as many players meet with stylists, attend fittings and give strategic thought to what they will be wearing before games and in those memorable press conferences. They’re aware that we, the fans, will be watching them on the runway, but this time we won’t be late to our seats.