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Ball Don't Lie

Scott Brooks is cool with Russell Westbrook’s fashion sense

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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Russell Westbrook shows off his "fingerpaint casual" look (Andrew D. Bernstein/ Getty).

Apart from the basketball, one of the most consistently entertaining aspects of the NBA Playoffs has been the fashion choices of Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook. His aesthetic is essentially that of Dennis the Menace in the year 2020: all crazy colors and prints in service of an impish personality. Most commentators think he looks terrible, of course, and in many cases he has.

His coach, however, is perfectly fine with Westbrook's fashion choices. From Ryan Aber for The Oklahoman (via SLAM):

"Russell can wear anything," Brooks said. "He's great looking, he has an incredible body, a great smile. Anything, he's going to look good. I have to dress up nice to look decent."

Westbrook and Kevin Durant have drawn attention for their wardrobe during the playoffs, most notably Westbrook's fishing lure shirt and red glasses without lenses.

"As long as they keep playing the way they're playing, I don't care what they wear," he said. "I don't care if they wear glasses with no lenses in it, I will always wear mine with a lens."

It's good to know that Brooks won't be taking fashion inspiration from Westbrook, because he would in fact look very terrible. Just imagine Brooks wearing a shirt that says "HONK" in graffiti-ish font above the pocket, or an abstract print shirt from Urban Outfitters. He would look ridiculous, or at least like a man 30 years his senior on a very bizarre vacation. Nothing would make sense.

Westbrook's choices don't always make sense either, of course, but at least Brooks has identified what makes them partially work: Westbrook's body type, his flair, etc. And, in truth, weird shirts aren't really so bad. What Westbrook gets wrong isn't so much the specific items as that he wears only crazy clothing. There's no balance — it's just a mess of loud colors and bold patterns working at cross purposes.

In a way, he needs to discover in fashion what's improved his play on the court: that activity and aggressiveness must be tempered by broader concepts and structure. Hopefully, in time, he'll learn those lessons. That happened with basketball, and now he's on the verge of accomplishing something truly special.

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