Of draft picks and fashion pics
On Thursday night NBA hopefuls like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum will get dressed up and head to the Barclays Center to find out where their pro basketball careers will begin. Just two months ago their NFL counterparts had their big night, donning their finest suits and slickest shoes hoping to hear their names called at Radio City Music Hall.
That first photo of a player's big draft-day moment lives on forever, not just on the mantels of their childhood homes, but, more importantly, in best- and worst-dressed galleries on sports sites everywhere. Some players (ahem, Tim Thomas) never live down their terrible draft-day duds.
Over the years we've seen some serious tie tragedies and double-breasted disasters, but which league's rookies have struggled more, sartorially speaking?
We gathered three expert panelists to decide, once and for all, who wins when it comes to draft-day fashion, the NBA or the NFL. Our panel includes professional stylist Kristen Skordilis, former NBA player Bruce Bowen and former NFL player and coach Herm Edwards. Their mission was to select the best-dressed candidate from each matchup. Away we go!
1. 1996 Steve Nash vs. 1991 Brett Favre
Skordilis: Nash wins! Yes, it's awkward wearing the lid with a suit but we can maybe see past it since he is an athlete. But I just can't accept Brett Favre's acid-washed jean Bermuda shorts. Awkward, yes, but Nash does it better.
Bowen: Favre wins. Favre had a career in Wrangler jeans by that shot alone -- I think that was the building point for that commercial. He wins. Wrangler all the way.
Edwards: Favre wins. The jean shorts were his fashion-forward way of anticipating his future endorsement with Wrangler jeans.
2. 1997 Bryant Westbrook vs. 2002 Drew Gooden
Skordilis: Westbrook wins. Hands down. Even though he is all flash with the tone on tone stripes and bling, Drew Gooden looks like a young man in his dad's bad suit!
Bowen: Westbrook wins. Ooh, Westbrook, go ahead, get your squat on. I haven't seen a pinstripe on the same color quite like that. It was bold. But it was during that time. On the flip side, Gooden looks like he's wearing a quilt.
Edwards: Westbrook wins. Drew's jacket has two functions -- a suit jacket with slacks or it's long enough to use solo as a "coat" dress.
3. 2010 Wesley Johnson vs. 2011 Von Miller
Skordilis: Miller wins. Miller, check! Looking good with pattern shirt and color-coordinated pocket square. Johnson on the other hand looks like he is a steward in a Scottish "Love Boat" episode with his tartan plaid trousers. No check.
Bowen: Johnson wins. I like the flavor of the pattern of Johnson's pants. And the buttons of the double-breasted jacket set it off. He came in flavorful. When you come in like that, even if he doesn't become a 15-year player in the NBA, he represented himself well at the right time.
Edwards: Johnson wins. I'm always ready for Christmas and those pants are perfect.
4. 2003 Carmelo Anthony vs. 2001 LaDainian Tomlinson
Skordilis: This is a tough call. I'll give it to Tomlinson only because I can't see the rest of his look. Between the shiny yellow on Tomlinson and the longest suit jacket in the world on Anthony, these colors and looks don't work very well on either.
Bowen: Anthony wins. We can tell this was a different era, 'cause we know now that these guys can dress. I mean, LT went really yellow. He was really leading the charge to the Chargers. Melo, we're talking about a guy who was supposed to be a sophomore in college, so I give him a pass. Tomlinson should've known better.
Edwards: Anthony wins. Too much Big Bird on LT -- yellow tie, yellow shirt.
5. 2007 Brady Quinn vs. 2007 Joakim Noah
Skordilis: Quinn wins. All those earth tones aren't doing Quinn any favors, however Joakim Noah isn't pulling off the seersucker and bow tie. Seems like a costume of a Carrot Top look-alike, but dressed like an ice cream man. But he is so happy it almost works!
Bowen: Noah wins. Joakim, it says everything about the player he is. Not afraid to step outside of the box. He's got the bow tie, he's got the hair down like "WHAT" and he gives the two-fingers peace sign and that smile. Exquisite taste in fashion and that inner child who is so happy to be making his dream happen.
Edwards: Quinn wins. Below the chin Joakim looks ready for a party in the Hamptons, above the chin I'm not exactly sure what is going on with the hairstyle and ball cap -- not a fit. My wife thinks that Quinn at least represents a "GQ" look here.
6. 2007 Greg Oden vs. 2007 JaMarcus Russell
Skordilis: Oden wins. Oden for embracing his stripes! A respectable charcoal grey suit looks responsible and a bit more conservative than Russell's all-black ensemble. Keeping a positive image goes a long way today in enhancing one's reputation.
Bowen: Oden wins. JaMarcus, all I thought about that was "TAPS." *Trumpet noises* All that black? C'mon man! I understand you're going to the Raiders but you don't have to look like you're going to a funeral!
Edwards: Oden wins. Hey JaMarcus, ready for a funeral?
7. 2013 Ben McLemore vs. 2013 Cordarelle Patterson
Skordilis: McLemore wins! Flashy in a confident way celebrating himself with the custom suit lining. His tailor gets a bit of the credit here because his suit looks like fit perfection. While I can appreciate the suspenders, bow tie, and LV on Patterson, it's a bit sloppy and not as polished as Ben.
Bowen: McLemore wins. The little jazzy spot with having the Kansas jersey -- I like that, that was a little twist. It was creative, but it didn't take away from the suit. We got two bow ties here, too. I always have affection for those who are willing to go the "bow" way. As for Patterson, I understand you gotta go with LV, but you don't gotta rep it like that. That's a little too Pre-K for me. Like, "My son drew on my belt."
Edwards: Patterson wins. I'd rather sport Louis Vuitton than a KU jersey inside of my suit.
8. 2013 Michael Carter-Williams vs. 2014 Marquise Lee
Skordilis: Lee wins. This is all about the tie! I can't stop looking at Lee's chunky bow tie, and can't stop wishing for a different tie on Carter-Williams. After much back and forth I like the modern freshness on Lee -- the details on his suit clinched the win! I love the confidence in Michael while sporting the baby hue from head to toe, working that monochromatic magic, but it seems a bit too dated overall.
Bowen: Carter-Williams wins. Exquisite! He looks like he's going to work on Wall Street. This isn't the dress of somebody in upstate New York, this was somebody who just stepped out of the Garden and saw Walt Frazier and said "I do NOT wanna do what he does! I need something simple, but at the same time able to stand out." Even the tie pin on that, gotta give credit where credit is due.
Edwards: Lee wins. Michael looks as if he is sporting a '70s colored tux.
Bonus (ESPN employee edition): 1994 Jalen Rose vs. 1996 Ray Lewis
Skordilis: Rose wins. Both of these hurt my eyes! But I'm going to go with Jalen Rose because it's a suit, so at least he is letting the suit do all the talking. I'm not sure what Lewis is wearing over that shirt but it's just too much, between the shirt, the shades and bling, there is too much talking going on.
Bowen: Rose wins. When I saw Ray Lewis all I thought about was Biggie. "Biggie Biggie Biggie, can't you see, somehow your dress just hypnotize me." If you get in close you see the gold medallion, with the shades on indoors. His star is shining so bright he needs shades indoors. Rose gets a pass 'cause that's that Detroit stuff. He was fine in Detroit. But for him to go RED? PINSTRIPE? OOOoohhh. But Ray Lewis went with that Ver-sa-ce. He took me back.
Edwards: Rose wins. There is only one Elvis Presley and Ray Lewis' outfit should remain in Elvis' wardrobe collection.
THE VERDICT: The NBA guys win out, earning 15 votes to the NFL's 12. Though, to be fair, Jalen Rose was the difference. His last-minute sweep of Ray Lewis gave the NBA the win. (And we can guarantee, 100 percent, that this is the only time you'll ever see Rose's red pinstripe suit win him anything other than a spot on the worst dressed list.)
And to the NBA Class of 2014: The pressure is on to protect your victory. You're on the clock ...