Compared to the rest of the American male population, NBA athletes are tough guys whose job involves being in good shape and holding a psychological competitive edge as often as possible. By at least one definition, they are real men.
Of course, they also like to pamper themselves in more traditionally feminine ways. As Sarah Kogod of DC Sports Bog found out, several players on the Washington Wizards get regular pedicures (via TBJ):
Trevor Booker admitted that he goes about once a month. "It makes my feet softer," he explained. "I usually go to the Pentagon Mall. They always put on gloves when I come in."
It's one thing for big athletes to admit to getting pampered, but is it okay for regular men to get them? "Yeah, that's cool," Booker said.
The fact that Andray Blatche gets pedicures isn't surprising. Also not surprising is who he gets them with. "I usually go with my mom," he told me. "It's good to take care of your feet. I don't get manicures, just the feet."
But Blatche admits that there is some vanity involved, too. "I like to wear open-toed sandals in the summer and let my feet breathe," he explained. "My toes can't be looking busted."
Not every Wizard is into pedicures — Maurice Evans says his toes are too ugly to draw attention to them — but the fact that at least a few do it says something about NBA players' conceptions of their own toughness. Blatche might not be the baddest kid on the NBA block, but when guys like Dwyane Wade paint their toenails you know the definition of masculine behavior has changed.
The more narrowly we define toughness in the NBA, the less likely we are to appreciate what so many great players do. The Wizards aren't exactly the best team to prove it, but the more we open up our expectations for athlete behavior, the more interesting this league will be.