In Defense Of Russell Westbrook’s Awesome Shirts

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In the final days of the championship, Thunder god Russell Westbrook was starting to get known for two things: his loud, vibrantly patterned shirts, and the reactions to said shirts from fashion-deaf sports writers.

Westbrook’s being unorthodox with his fashion (at least in terms of the NBA), and being unorthodox means opening yourself up to criticism. But come on, these guys all sound like the most painfully unhip sports dudes.

It’s one thing that the Orlando Sentinel called Westbrook’s infamous Lacoste Live fishing lure-patterned shirt an eyesore. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when you call his lenseless fashion specs (and the recent fashion spec trend in general) “Steve Urkel glasses” in 2012, that doesn’t exactly out you as having your thumb on the fashon buzz.

Here’s the thing, Family Matters ended in 1998. I know, it sucks. And my undying love for Jaleel White says we should keep making Urkel references forever—but only when appropriate. Fashion has moved on. And here’s the thing: big thick-rimmed glasses have been in fashion for like, five years now.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that all this talk about Westbrook’s shirt and fashion spec combo has really just revealed more about the writers than about Westbrook. The sports commentators who talk about “nerd-chic” and make Urkel references basically show off that they haven’t really thought about fashion trends until, well, the moment they saw Westbrook’s shirt. Yikes.

This doesn’t seem like much of a big deal, and yet it kind of is. What is it about sports writers that make them write like the bullies from an 80s teen comedy? Time’s Sean Gregory once asked KD, “Why is it, Kevin Durant, that you dress like such a nerd?”

This was because Durant wears book bags, fashion specs, and fashionable plaid shirts worn fashionably. I feel like I’m losing my mind here. (Gregory also drops the Urkel bomb, making me once again look at the timestamp of the article. Nope, still 2012. Man.)

Westbrook, meanwhile, continues to be fashion forward. Those fashion specs? Westbrook may have been the one to bring them to the NBA. “I’ve been wearing glasses since I’ve been in the league,” he said in an interview.  “I think everybody else just started wearing them now.., Hey, I ain’t saying nothing, but I’m just saying.”

That’s the thing: Westbrook has got this fashion stuff down.

Westbrook looks good. The infamous buttoned-up patterned shirt with the jazz dancers is well coordinated, built around splashes of colour (like the red of his specs) popping out of the neutral creams and whites.

His loud “Kaleidoscope” Noda shirt that got people up in arms? That’s a snazzy pattern, similar to some of the patterned stuff they were doing at FAT. The neutral gold of the shirt even matches with his fashion specs. And yes, it’s sucks that it’s Urban Outfitters (come on, Westbrook, you’re better than that), but he works it.

In fact, among his crazy shirts during these finals, the only one that didn’t work was his pink Lacoste Mini Pink polo, worn just a bit too big (and I’m not sure about how good that particular shade of pink works). But that’s a small blip among a sea of awesome looking patterns.

This whole kerfuffle even got poor Thunder coach Scott Brooks on the record, saying that, whatever, it doesn’t matter what Westbrook wears; Brooks still supports him.

It’s a nice sentiment, but Brooks should have dropped the whole truth: Fashion swings the way people like Westbrook walks. The whole of fashion is built upon the freaks, the original, the iconoclasts. In a way, it’s okay to let the pundits natter at the NBA stars, and pick apart their style; we know better. Like Stoudemire and Durant before him, Westbrook’s going to be another icon.

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