Magazine article Insight on the News

NBA Bands Together

Magazine article Insight on the News

NBA Bands Together

Article excerpt

NBA players have gone headlong into headbands, but not everyone is retrofitted.

For Milwaukee Bucks center Scott Williams, it began as an experiment -- and ended up a habit. Before a game against Chicago in April, Williams donned a black headband, a gag gift from teammate Tim Thomas. Expecting little more than a few yuks, Williams instead scored a career-high 24 points. He hasn't played bareheaded since.

"I tried it earlier in the season just as a joke, and I knew it wasn't me," Williams says. "Then I put it back, and I had that career-high night. I was feeling young and feisty again."

He's not alone. In the fashion-conscious National Basketball Association (NBA), where sartorial trends are discussed, dissected and discarded with a junior-high-like urgency, headbands have become the must-have accessory of the spring, trailing only tattoos in faddish ubiquity. Portland's Rasheed Wallace, Toronto's Vince Carter, Golden State's Larry Hughes, Miami's Brian Grant and Los Angeles Clippers rookie Darius Miles are among the terry-cloth aficionados.

At the start of the playoffs, the stumbling Charlotte Hornets adopted headbands to show team solidarity, then thumped favored Miami in three straight first-round games. "There's power in the headbands," says Hornets guard Baron Davis, one of the league's early adopters. "Some of the guys didn't want to do it at first, and you'd see them swatting them off after they missed a shot in practice or something. Then we won a couple of games. So now they believe."

Believers are everywhere. From longtime wearers such as Davis and Cleveland's Chris Gatling to fashion arrivistes such as Williams, the league is awash in sweat-sock skullcappers, many with their own unique style. Portland's Scottie Pippen favors a dark, unobtrusive band that fades neatly into his well-trimmed mini-fro. Indiana's Sam Perkins prefers a plus-size behemoth, the better to complement his Sideshow Bob 'do. Atlanta's Jason Terry even pairs his with matching knee-high socks, providing a double dose of retro chic. (For a true throwback look, however, Terry would be better served with a rainbow-colored band, a la Bill Walton).

Why the revival of a look long associated with rec-league rejects? It's like Davis says: There's power in terry cloth. After a near-mutiny against coach Dan Issel in December, the Denver Nuggets donned headbands to demonstrate unity. …

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