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Ahead Of NBA All-Star Weekend, Looking At The Fashion-Forward Players


The rosters are all set for next weekend's NBA All-Star Game.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: Live from New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: Starters for the All-Star Game - in the backcourt, Kyrie Irving.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: In the frontcourt, Kevin Durant.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #4: Let's get ready to rumble.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This year's game is in New Orleans. The NBA switched it from Charlotte, N.C. to protest that state's bathroom law. Many deemed it discriminatory towards transgender people. The NBA is well-known for being politically progressive, but it's also the most fashion-forward. And that's what we're going to talk about on this week's Out of Bounds, our weekly conversation about sports and culture.

Joining us is Motez Bishara. He's a sportswriter for CNN, and he joins us from London on the line.



GARCIA-NAVARRO: Who are the leading fashion icons among the players? And describe their look for people who might not have seen it. What are these guys wearing?

BISHARA: Sure. The No. 1 guy is definitely Russell Westbrook at the moment.


BISHARA: And he is not traditional at all. He'll where everything from, like, you know, ripped skinny jeans and, like, a Slayer heavy-metal T-shirt to, like - he wore a kilt to one of the press conferences. And when the reporter asked him - why are you wearing a kilt? - he just said - why not? - you know.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a knee-length, leopard-print coat with white jeans. The dude is not messing around when it comes to fashion.

BISHARA: No, no. And people have asked him - have you ever looked at any of your outfits afterwards and thought, you know, why did I wear that? And he said, staunchly, no, never - never ever. So he's probably the top guy, but I think Carmelo Anthony is a close second. There are lots of guys - even 7-foot guys, like Dwight Howard, are extremely fashion conscious. You know, they wear little handkerchiefs in their suit pockets and, you know, down to all the little details.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm wondering, as an outsider to all of this, why is the NBA so much more fashion-forward than, say, the NFL or the MLB?


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why these guys?

BISHARA: There's two reasons. First of all, one is that their bodies and their shapes actually lend themselves to looking really, really good - really good cuts in suits, you know? Most of them have fairly slim waists for their heights. And they're very good builds, whereas, you know, a lot of NFL players, you know, they're gigantic. Some of them are 300 pounds. And quite frankly, they don't look - just don't look as good in suits. But the other reason is because the NBA, back in 2005, the league instituted a dress code.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It was pretty controversial at the time, though.

BISHARA: It was. It was. And it was instituted for a reason - because the year before, there was a huge brawl during a game in Detroit, known as the Malice in the Palace (ph), and the commissioner at the time, David Stern, just, you know, laid down the law. And he said, you have to represent the league properly. And so you've got to dress in business attire. And it was - I mean, there was a lot of resistance to it among the players. But you know what? They ended up embracing it, and then it just took off from there really.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So, you know, fashion is making a statement. How you dress signals who you are. What statement do you think these NBA players are making?

BISHARA: The statement is that we belong - you know, we belong in any social forum. And as you mentioned in the intro, they're also activists. So if you want to be an activist, you have to sound the part, but you also have to look the part, too. So that's also what it's suggesting - is that these players are sophisticated, both in how they look and how they act. And I think the dress code reflects that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, I want to know what is trending for next weekend for these players, fashionwise, at the All-Stars. Do we know what the big look's going to be?

BISHARA: Rookies, you can't predict. And, you know, you give a 20-year-old an unlimited credit card - these guys are making millions of dollars - and it's - there's bound to be some big fashion risks out there. So sometimes they show up in, like, red checkered pants and, like - bow ties were really big a year ago. Sometimes they opt for, like, a little gold jewelry around their collars instead of the ties.

I think most of the established players, like the James Hardens and Kevin Loves - you know, they'll go for the classic suit. And Dwyane Wade, who's not an All-Star this year, really - he embraced the preppy look, like he was going to play polo in the Hamptons every summer. So we'll see if other guys try and emulate that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Motez Bishara is a sportswriter for CNN and the author of "Beating The NBA: Tales From A Frugal Fan."

Thank you so much, dude.

BISHARA: My pleasure. Thanks, Lulu.