We here at Grantland love doing power rankings, and I especially love comic strips. Thus, inspired by this “Dilbert” comic, I present the first-ever Grantland edition of NBA Playoffs Hair Power Rankings (NPHPR for short).
The title is pretty self-explanatory. Opinions may vary; scoring is arbitrary. My friend pulled my arm to get the remote out of my hand earlier so now my head hurts and I’m not thinking clearly. My dog also ate the previous draft of this because he was displeased with my Sager-esque, green paisley blouse. Feel free to yell at me in the comments about any obvious oversights.
Without further ado …
Honorable Mention: Zach Randolph
Z-Bo would’ve made this list for real except for the fact that I would be giving him 37/20 points based on the headband alone (-5 for the very average hair). There’s a reason it’s referred to as a headband. It does not relate to hair. Sorry, Z-Bo, maybe next time. After all, it took LeBron only nine years to win something huge, and he has a headband, too. (That is also one of the reasons Z-Bo gets the Honorable Mention nod and not LeBron; sometimes we just have to learn to share the wealth.) Good things are coming your way, though, Mr. Randolph — I can feel it. Just not today. Total: -5/20
8. Tiago Splitter
Splitter sports a hairstyle that is very much wannabe–Chandler Parsons (the undisputed king of NPHPR), which automatically puts Splitter’s name on this list. He’s also shown huge improvement from 2007, so that’s +3 points. Other than that, I’ve got nothing. Very mediocre showing, but we couldn’t start this power ranking at no. 7 — that would just be too odd. Total: 9/20
T-7. David West
When I introduced the first-ever NPHPR, I didn’t mention the specifics, right? Like what sort of hair should be counted, what the criteria were, all those details? No? Good. Because West deserves to qualify — even if he has two fewer hairs on his head than Homer Simpson. His goatee/beard/just-the-chin hair single-handedly carries West into this year’s NPHPR. Just look at this beaut:
The anger, the surprise, the suspense. David West’s facial hair — it knows drama. Total: 14/20
T-7. Kawhi Leonard
Leonard might not be the only player in the league with this hairstyle, but it takes (basket)balls to have sported cornrows regularly since at least high school. Look, proof:
His hair might not be eccentric enough or stylish enough to make this list, but hey, effort and commitment count for something here on the NPHPR. Also, he’s the same age as me, and I think at this point in our lives, we deserve to be sixth-place winners (or fifth-place losers if you’re a pessimist). Total: 14/20
5. Manu Ginobili & Tim Duncan
Classic classy veteran move. At one point in time, these grandpas had pretty unique hair.
Long and stringy:
Then they realized they were aging and balding, and Pop told them that going with the buzz cut would make them more aerodynamic. Duncan took it one step further, and well, now he’s pretty much bald. There’s nothing too spectacular about their hair specifically, but neither the close shave nor the “highlight the widow’s peak” is a good look for most people, and they pull it off well. Plus, they’re 35 and 37, and they’re rocking the NBA. Respect. Total: 17/20
4. Marc Gasol
With the curveball in the last entry, it only makes sense to go traditional on this one. Like his older brother, he has a head full of hair. Unlike his brother, his hair is clean, fresh, and fluffy — not sweaty, unruly, and flopping everywhere. The younger Gasol also has quite the full beard/mustache with a touch of rugged sideburns. He must know that there’s nothing that says “GRRizzlies” more than an outdoors-y looking man. His eyebrows are very voluminous but not overly shaggy, and let’s just say this is the best he’s looked in years.
If there were a most improved award in the NPHPR, it would go to Gasol. You know what? Now there are. Four of them. So … four for you, Marc Gasol. You go, Marc Gasol! Total: 22/20
3. Norris Cole
The high-top fade is something I definitely respect and admire. Two percent of that is because I definitely am not able to pull it off nor do I have the hair for it. The other 98 percent is because I grew up watching this:
I know Nerlens Noel has the same look, as does Iman Shumpert, but everyone knows that Cole wears it the best. Noel’s was just too much to handle at times (look at the intricate design right above his ear, and the height of the fade):
As for Shumpert? Let’s just say that at times he seemed to be channeling his inner Marie Antoinette:
Of course, this could just be a classic case of being in the right place at the right time, but Cole knows it best … if you have the opportunity, JUMP ON IT! Total: 37/20
2. Gregg Popovich
Oh, good ol’ Pop. If there was one thing that stood out from Tuesday’s game fashion/style-wise, it would have been Popovich’s hair. At the risk of sounding slightly creepy and completely delusional, I couldn’t help but notice how soft and wispy Popovich’s hair looked. You know those 5-month-old babies with fluffy hair that sticks up all over the place? Well, Popovich had the white version of that hair. Once you see, you can’t unsee. Don’t blame me; blame HDTVs. Anyway, I imagine this was the scene in the locker room after Tuesday’s game:
Timmy: My, what soft, white hair you have …
Pop: Yes, the better to influence refs into officiating my way …
Manu: My, what nice-smelling hair you have …
Pop: Yes, the better to distract the scorekeeper who starts the shot clock …
Splitter: My, what —
T-Mac: Maaaan … what happened to my Johnson’s baby shampoo?
[Pop slinks away slowly with a tiny yellow bottle peeking out of his jacket.]
Pop: [Facing camera.] Shhh … this is a secret I’ll never tell, X-O-X-O … Popo Coach.
1. Chris Andersen
Was there really any doubt that he wouldn’t win this? The guy has a Mohawk, a Mohawk! And it’s very, very well-kept. Just look at each individual spike and how they bend at just the right angle to form lines perpendicular to the ceiling. That takes dedication — and skill. He also has a headband, which, as we all learned from the Z-Bo Honorable Mention, gives the candidate a kajillion (37 to be specific) bonus points. Plus, his nickname is Birdman, which totally shouldn’t count toward his point total because it doesn’t relate to hair, but hey, it’s my power ranking and birds have feathers, which are sort of like hair, so boom. Más puntos for Chris Andersen.
One last thing … just look at this picture.
How could you not give the dude the NPHPR title?! Total: 54/20