Sportstorialist: The Hair Up ThereCharles Rex Arbogast/AP
The other day, before that fractured orbital bone, Derrick Rose sat down and talked to reporters about money. It’s raining down all over the NBA, and, as a player currently under a five-year, $94 million contract, he’d like to get wetter. To address the media on the topic of his future free agency — and the lawsuit filed against him by a woman who says that, in 2013, he and two friends broke into her apartment and raped her — Rose wore a Bulls jersey and shared the table with a comparatively taciturn Joakim Noah. Rose said the charges were untrue and that the only reason to care about money is because he has a family.
The suit sounds serious. Nonetheless, he claims he spent the summer focused on his career and his son. Judging from his appearance at that press conference, I’m going to go ahead and guess that Rose was also focused on his hair. It looked good. He wore it dark on the sides and let it rise up into a box minus the flat surfaces. It just stood there atop his head twisting and spilling — politely, enticingly — like a bowl of snacks at a party. Rose’s teammate, Jimmy Butler, is doing something similar. The bowl is wider, the snacks bigger, but the fade more abrupt, which gives him a loosely military harshness.
The reason to notice Rose’s hair is the duality it implies. With a normal high-top box, there’s order and geometry. Iman Shumpert’s tends to have both, and a lot of comedy, too. Rose is having things both ways: control on the sides, chaos up top. It’s a haircut that says, Damn these charges. I look good. Or I will as soon as my face gets fixed.
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It’s hard to find the sense in getting excited about a football player’s hair. You rarely see it, and when you do, it looks the way grass does after picnics. Helmets are like reverse blow-dryers. But sometimes there’s a player with hair you notice even when all you can see is the tail end; it juts out enough to advertise the personality of its owner. That loosely applies to a Troy Polamalu or a Clay Matthews — and yet that, to me, feels like stunt hair. Their coifs belong on a flagpole as much as a head. It applies to Bryce Harper, whose side parts, sweep-overs, and pompadours are what certain baseball players should aspire to. The hair signifies a cocky cool that drives some people nuts. A version of that cockiness is what allegedly made Jonathan Papelbon choke Harper during a game the other night. Anyway, you rarely see the hair — and anytime he switches from cap to helmet it’s like watching the family cat get shoved into a pet carrier.
But sometimes the hair under the helmet calls out to you, and you have to answer. Kiko Alonso’s hair calls out to you. During his time with the Bills, it had achieved unruly perfection. The curls, in shades of autumnal brown, billowed and messed but not too much. It was throwback hair, the hair of the type of boy that Kristy McNichol or Quinn Cummings would’ve brought home on an episode of Family: sweet, wholesome, dinner-table-friendly. Alonso plays for the Eagles now, and the hair is only partially as glorious. But anytime you can get a glimpse, your day gets better.
And it doesn’t just befit eating at dining tables but maybe dancing on them, too. Whatever fun we know Rob Gronkowski is having just being Gronk, Alonso’s hair seems to dig being Alonso’s hair. He’s been out seeking a second opinion for a knee injury he incurred a couple of Sundays ago. It’s bad news for the Eagles and bad news for us. In the meantime, we have this: