Very rarely do I nit-pick about athlete swag. Personality, style of dress, hairdo. All these things are usually off limits for me because who am I to say somebody else’s steeze should be done away with. But when it comes to these high top fades slowly creeping their way back into the NBA and pop culture I have got to take a stand. We’re all haters when it comes to some aspects of humanity and with no rhyme or reason attached. I admit, I HATE THE HIGH TOP FADE. I can’t explain why, but as a black man who has seen some questionable hair styles and perpetrated a few myself (Cough: twisties, gigantic obtrusive afro, and half braids-half picked out fro) I find the 2012 high top fade comeback particularly annoying. Here’s why.
Most recently, Norris Cole, Iman Shumpert, and Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel have painfully ushered in the era of high top fade peacocking on the basketball court. File this complaint under: They shoulda never GAVE these brothas Money! ala Dave Chappelle. Unfortunately, Cole, Shumpert, and Noel are all members of high profile teams that will play a lot of games on National TV this year. So this isolated sickness now has the potential to turn into a full blown epidemic if we don’t nip it in the butt immediately.
Why are HTFs a problem? Because these fools aren’t “bringing it back” or going “retro” or paying homage to the “old school”. They’re just doing it because they know it looks really silly, but girls will want to bang them anyway so why not? In other words “peacocking”. It’s a shameless attempt to grab extra attention. Place it under the same category as LeBron’s fake glasses, D Wades Pink leather pants, Dwight Howard’s bow-ties, and Amare’s denim vest and fedora combo. Peacocking has simply gone too far in pro sports.
I only find the HTF in 2012 a little more egregious because the kids who rock it definitely don’t relate to the high top fade and its origins. The high top fade blew up in the late 80s (1986-1991) when jheri curls seemed to have dried up and went away. Black men’s hair became less damp, less chemically enhanced and getting your hair cut by an actual barber became cool again. The high top fade allowed for max creativity on the part of the barber and even more max time spent in the barber chair (FYI: Black people love barber shops so the cut was quite successful). But Cole, Shump, and Noel were born in 1988,1990, and 1994 respectively which means that by the time these kids were old enough to remember anything the HTF was dead and gone for the most part.
It’s not like these fools were listening to Bell Biv Devoe, Kid and Play, and Big Daddy Kane. They didn’t fall in love with basketball because of the HTFs of Ewing, Pip, or Kenny “Sky” Walker. They may of caught some episodes of Fresh Prince or saw Eddie from Family Matters or maybe, just maybe these kids got a dose of Gerald from Nickelodeon’s Hey Arnold or Alfy from My Brother and Me in their prime but even they weren’t cool enough to spark an HTF revival!
SIDEBAR: Black characters on Nickelodeon, most racist shit ever. Gerald from Hey Arnold didn’t know how to swim or ride a bike?! Skeeter from Doug was dark Green, wore funky clothes and used to dance and beat box ALL THE TIME?! Susie from Rugrats had hair so wild and nappy, Don Imus would be right to criticize?! But all of that is for another post.
The high top fade resurgence needs to stop because not only do I think it looks stupid but it’s actually bad for an athlete’s career. I’ll prove it. Let’s take a look at some prominent high top fades from 2010 and beyond. All of them had negative effects on the athletes that wore them.
Brandon Jennings—Bad Hair Years: 2009, 2010, 2011
Jennings rocked an HTF on and off for one year in Europe and during his rookie and sophomore campaigns in the NBA. In those three years, Jennings has never shot over 40% from the field or averaged more than 17 points, including a season in Europe where his numbers were PATHETIC. In 2009 he averaged 5 points and 2 assists per game with that crap on his head. Last season, he dumped the fade and had the best year of his career, 19 ppg, 6 assists, and over 40% shooting from the floor.
Norris Cole— Bad Hair Years: 2009, 2011, 2012
Cole and his HTF did quite well at Cleveland State where he set all types of records. After being drafted, he cut that shit off and last year turned into a pretty solid defender and mid-range shooter for the Heat on their championship run. Now that he feels he’s arrived, however, he’s grown that shit out again and his stats are a joke this year so far because of it. 4 ppg on 33% shooting from the floor, and 25% shooting from 3. Keep in mind ALL of his shots are wide open off double teams from the big three. The HTF will kill his career if he’s not careful.
Iman Shumpert—Bad Hair Year: 2012
I know he had normal haircut when he suffered that gruesome ACL injury in the playoffs vs. the Heat last year in April, but growing his hair into the retro fade has not had a positive impact on his return. Around September of this year Shumpert unveiled the look, and although his Knicks are 6-0, he may be losing his starting job to Raymond Felton and Ronnie Brewer. With Melo killing at the four position and the Knicks rolling with the NBA’s best record, grumblings inside the Knicks organization suggest that both Shump and Amare could be assigned bench roles as they make their way back into the Knicks playing roster. Blame the freakin fade Iman.
Greg Oden—Bad Hair Year: 2010
Another case of bad hair affecting injuries in a negative way. Oden played just twenty one games in the 2009-2010 season after re-injuring his left knee and requiring surgery. After what was called a successful surgery that off-season, Oden returned to the court to rehab in summer 2010 sporting a new HTF for the comeback. Wouldn’t you know it a nagging pain in his right knee revealed a need for major knee cap surgery and ended his return season in 2010-11 before it even got started. The high top fade strikes again.
Even beyond the NBA, football and baseball have their fair share of problems with the High Top Fade as well. All of these guys have given the HTF a try and look at their careers.
Terrell Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders.
Bum ass backup. Yet to attempt a pass in an NFL game.
Tiquan Underwood, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
25 catches for 2 career TDs in 3 NFL seasons.
Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers.
Career .260 hitter, 89 strikeouts and only 130 hits.
I fear that a similar fate awaits star forward, Nerlens Noel at Kentucky if he doesn’t return to 2012 and get a normal haircut. He’s definitely a beast at the moment, but that “hey look at me” shock value retro haircut simply does not bode well for pro sports success. If people stop telling him it’s cool it will cease to be cool. So I implore you, please let’s start hating this hair trend with as much passion as necessary. Otherwise, we may have to pretend to take these dudes and their ill-advised throwback haircuts seriously.
This was written by Jason Millison. He’s the man behind the sports blog 2for3.