Tacky facial hair in the NBA [updated–the Charlton Heston edition]

UPDATE: [More complaining about beards here.]

There are better things to talk about in the middle of the playoffs, but something must be said about the really crummy standards of facial hair grooming in the NBA today. It’s really not enough that most tattoos on NBA players are either painfully permanent cliches (“no guts no glory”; “only the strong survive”) or are blurry dark forms that resemble hideous birthmarks more than that skull/ basketball intertwined with a Blazers emblem the guy was going for. The only undisputably cool tat—that on Rasheed Wallace’s right upper arm—is vastly outnumbered by example after example of some of the ugliest and most unsightly artwork that millionaries ever paid big bucks for.

So does the facial hair have to suck that bad as well? Guys, you’re in a sport where you get a TV close-up every time you draw a shooting foul! You don’t want the hobo look. But the NBA today has the worst facial hair grooming habits I’ve seen. Pau Gasol is the only Spaniard I’ve ever seen who looks like a caveman.


Dwayne Wade, ambassador of the NBA and cell-phone peddler, drew a beard on his face with a Sharpie. “Sexayy.” The problem here is of course not a lack of trimming, but hyper-trimming. For this reason the “Sharpie Beard” could also be called the “Wire Beard”. Charles should have refused to let him into his “Five” when he decided not to stop at this pencil-thin “goatee”. Now his look resembles me when I dyed my hair, and inky dye ran down over my ear and along my jawline to my chin. Does “Being Dwayne Wade” involve taking style tips from Scot Pollard?


Does Yao have some problem shaving? His beard is patchy (to put it a positive spin on it), but it seems he may not even own a razor. Can’t Yao’s people come to some kind of agreement with Gillette here? One billboard per year in exchange for a lifetime supply of Mach3s and a free shave from a barber before every game. China has 400 million human beings who might be interested in a Gillette product, and I imagine that all of them are more familiar with shaving than Yao is. Let’s make it happen.


I was about to make fun of Andres Nocioni’s beard next, but then I realized that it looks exactly like mine. So Nocioni’s cool. And so is Baron Davis’s awesome beard.

UPDATE I: If you’re wondering why there are as many bad beards in the NBA as there are, the answer is the same as everything else: it’s the fault of the fans and the teams for encouraging or condoning this bad behavior. Do a Google search for “gasol beard” (here, I did it for you), you’ll see that everyone on the internet thinks Gasol’s beard is cool. These people must all be beardless 13 year olds, for whom any beard at all is really cool, or they want to make facial hair into a counter-cultural statement again. The Grizzles even made up a paper beard mask for people to wear at games. You can get the pdf and print your own out here.

Michael Deuser even called Gasol’s scraggly fuzz the year’s “Best Fashion Statement” in 2005-06. Said Deuser: “The bearded look adds a touch of ruggedness to a guy whose finesse-based game had earned him the nickname ‘Picasso.'” Really? To me, Gasol’s look doesn’t say “rugged”, it says “Donner Party”.

UPDATE II: I couldn’t find a picture of the original Pollard “Line Beard”, which D-Wade has transformed into the “Sharpie Beard” or the “Wire Beard”. But here’s a more recent Pollard look:


You’re a joke, Scot Pollard.  Odd thing is, the guy actually knows how to grow a decent looking beard, as you can see here: valentine_peja_pollard.jpg

But we also see here that you can’t get even a single pic of a good NBA beard, without catching a glimpse of another bad NBA beard. I rest my case!

UPDATE III:  As you can see here, it is true that like Gasol’s beard, Charlton Heston’s Moses beard makes his face twice as large. But that’s where the similarities end. Look at that thick, wavy, well-conditioned beard! As filmmakers of the 1950s knew very well, the Old Testament prophets may have worn beards, but they were no hippies! Gasol’s beard makes Jerry Garcia’s face look well-kept.  Moses spent 40 years in the desert and he has better grooming than modern-day people, at least in a Cecil B. DeMille film.


UPDATE IV: In honor of Charlton Heston, I should give another example of a really great beard.  It’s even an example from the NBA.  Baron Davis:

Put this on your bathroom mirror, young men

If you are going to have a beard, do it right.  If you can’t grow a beard, don’t do it.  No one will blame you for being clean shaven.  There are plenty of fine-looking clean-shaven males.  Don’t follow the example of Pau Gasol or Scot Pollard, however.  Look to Baron Davis and Charlton Heston.

UPDATE V: The NBA ‘stache.  I’m not going to mention the hackneyed subject of Adam Morrison’s “mustache”.  Among other reasons, he’ll be out of the league soon and this blog can’t live in the soon-to-be-past.  But I should note that there’s really nothing so horrible about having just a mustache.  Now it’s out of vogue, but it used to be normal, and as Drew Gooden or Deshawn Stevenson will tell you, less is more when it comes to athletics and being hairy.  Someone mentioned Kurt Rambis’ beard from the 1980s.  Well, here it is:

So what’s wrong with that?  I don’t see a Nietszchean mop stache, nor do I see excessive waxing or trimming.  Sure, there’s a modest mullet to match.  But that’s what they did in the 1980s. Don’t hate it. That would be like getting worked up because George Washington wore a wig.  Instead of hating 1980s mainstream fashion, cast some of those disapproving glares over at whatever Drew Gooden is dreaming up.


20 Responses to “Tacky facial hair in the NBA [updated–the Charlton Heston edition]”

  1. ajohn135 Says:

    I’ve always liked the Baron “I have a shaved head but a full beard” Davis look, especially on him. His hair has grown out a bit, but it’s still the same look.

    That pic doesn’t give Yao Ming enough credit. He actually looks fairly clean shaven as apposed to what he normally looks like with that 14-year old full grown peach-fuzz face.

    Scot(with one ‘T’)Pollard has some of the craziest facial hair out there, so you should find a pic of him and toss him in here somehow.

  2. colatina Says:

    You’re right that Yao is usually clean shaven, so I’m fibbing a bit when I say he probably doesn’t own a razor but recently he hasn’t shaved and the results aren’t good.

    Baron Davis’s beard actually looks well-groomed and sensible the last few times I’ve seen it. The great thing about the Shaved Head—Full Beard look is that it looks like the sheer force of time and gravity has gradually pulled your hair off your head and onto your chin and face.

    Scot Pollard has been clean shaven for a year or more, so I couldn’t find a pic of his old “Line Beard” which was a thicker version of D-Wade’s “Sharpie Beard”.

  3. ajohn135 Says:

    Actually, what I meant was Yao Ming typically has a bunch of peach fuzz / patchy wiskers, and that picture doesn’t show it as well. You’re right, his facial hair is hideous, and I think a better pic would prove that.

  4. christiantj Says:

    I’m confused. Is the post anti-well groomed beard(Gasol) or anti-pre puberty beard (Yao, Wade) or both? Also, the issue of crappy NBA tats could be a whole other post.

  5. lamonte Says:

    23 years ago I grew a beard that took about 6 weeks to fill out. But then it looked scruffy so I trimmed it. But then when I trimmed it all the holes that I was trying to fill in reappeared. So I shaved it all off. I haven’t tried growing it back since then but I gaurentee it would look better than most of the guys you’ve cited in your post. They sould spend some of their money on a grooming counselor.

  6. colatina Says:

    Gasol’s beard is usually completely untrimmed. The photos I could get hold of were not ideal–they give some indication of what I’m talking about but they’re not perfect. The Gasol beard even in the pic here is still pretty scraggly, but usually even moreso. So the post is against poor trimming, weird shaping, and not shaving when you clearly should.

  7. Schark1011 Says:

    Listen to yourselves! You all need to be on the show “Queer eye for the Straight guy”. Who cares if you couldn’t grow a beard 23 years ago. Like I care if Paul Gasol looks like a terrorist or if Yao Ming has hit puberity left. All I have to say is “Wow”! Thank goodness we are all married, because if we weren’t I would be very skeptical about everyones sexuality in this blog.

    I am waiting for the darts to be thrown.

  8. ajohn135 Says:

    I’m sure they’ll be coming…

  9. colatina Says:

    I’m not going to throw darts. The post is mainly intended to have a little fun with the scraggly beards in the NBA, and to point how strange it is that guys who have close-ups on TV every other night in the playoffs look like they just got done with a month on the Appalachian Trail. It’s one thing to say “I don’t care about my looks, I’m a tough ball player”; it’s another thing to say “my appearance looks so disheveled that you can guess I’m probably wearing dirty socks”.

  10. Christiantj Says:

    aren’t you the same guy who takes a shower before a game? You still got that Ceasar cut? I rest my case.

  11. Schark1011 Says:

    Christian where do you come up with this crap! I think thats Matt Harpring who takes a shower before a game,not me.

  12. Christiantj Says:

    that’s true about harp – he wears gel and everything

  13. ajohn135 Says:

    So what? The guys a beast, he can do what he wants

  14. christiantj Says:

    Getting a little defensive AJ? Maybe its because YOU are the one who takes showers before games! Oh ya, you and Harp share another thing – you both gel up for the game. its ok I won’t tell anyone.

  15. ajohn135 Says:

    I never took showers right before games; but like Harping, I did gel up from time to time. When you’re draining threes left and right, killin’ defenses, you have to look good…

  16. christiantj Says:

    lol! That pic of Gasol looks like freekin Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments. Let my people go!

  17. I’m surprised I didn’t see Kurt Rambis’s mustache in this post. That ‘stache was trash.

  18. “I’m surprised I didn’t see Kurt Rambis’s mustache in this post. That ’stache was trash.”

    Really? From what I remember it was pretty normal. I know that the mustache without a beard has reached an extreme low fashion-wise nowadays. What used to be a pretty normal look for a man only 25 years ago now apparently means you work in adult films or you’re a serial killer. I’ve never liked the lone ‘stache look, but I also don’t get the anti-mustache jihad that’s currently going on. It’s like the anti-mullet purge from a few years ago. For a while there I thought men with hair above their eyebrows but below their collar were going to be rounded up and deported.

  19. […] of you may have thought that the complete wisdom on facial hair in the NBA was all contained in my post on beards in pro basketball, here.  But there’s much more to be said!  Part of the reason for this is that there is no […]

  20. macarthursmutterings Says:

    more beards is what i say

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