Why Do So Many Ballers Channel Steve Urkel These Days?

We really didn’t expect star NBA players to jump on the geeky bandwagon… I mean, aren’t jocks the mortal enemy of geeks? What’s a-goin-on? But lo and behold, MVPs everywhere have been spotted getting Urkel-fresh in in varsity cardigans, lensless wayfarers and sailboat-ready terrycloth polo shirts. There’s even an Adidas t-shirt out now emblazoned with the alter-geek-os of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant (I have to admit, they’re pretty cute). I guess wearing those bulky letterman jackets and pull-on gym pants off the courts was getting a bit too costly at the dry cleaners. Here are a few star b-ballers who have defaulted to the Dark Side of the Courts. 

LeBron James
On the court, James is a ball-dunking demon, but off, James often sports lensless horn-rimmed wayfarers and crisp, collared schoolboy button-downs. He’s also a fan of pairing button-down suit vests with retro kicks, striped cardis with tweed ties and private-school crested blazers with… well, anything, really. We think he’d fit right in on the grassy lawns of Oxford, don’t you?

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Russell Westbrook
Never without his signature fire-engine red specs, Westbrook has even claimed to be the original “Nerd Swag” arbiter in a recent interview with the NYTimes. “I’ve been wearing glasses since I’ve been in the league,” he said. “I think everybody else just started wearing them now.” Them fightin’ words! A bespectacled James quickly retorted, “There’s no stories behind it. It’s a look. It’s a fashion thing. But he absolutely didn’t start it. I know I’ve been wearing mine for about two years now. I don’t know who started it. None of us started it. It could have started back in the ’70s or ’80s. Fashion comes and goes over decades.”

There you go. James – 1, Westbrook – 0. 

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Dwayne Wade
It’s not easy being an all-star MVP: after all, you can’t really control what color of finger casts they have at the doc’s office. That’s why we think Wade is a genius for finding the perfect shade of plaid blue-green to contrast with his teal mini-cast. Bonus points for selectively posing next to an FD&C lime-colored Gatorade bottle. 

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Kevin Durant
Durant is bringing the sexy back—literally. The 23-year old small forward for the OKC is seldom seen in public appearances without his beloved backpacks. He also has a penchant for tangerine-colored skinny ties, frilly pocket squares and little floral lapel pins. We love a man who has some feminine flair. 

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Amare Stoudemire
Stoudemire can check off “sitting front row with Anna Wintour” off his bucket list in addition to “best use of a full blue sateen suit outside of a ‘70s movie.” The fashionably forward center player for the Knicks can often be seen wearing a checked bowtie, sleek black spectacles and preppy cardigans.

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My Bad: One More Reason Manute Bol Was a Great Man

News of super-tall NBA legend Manute Bol‘s death at 47 from kidney problems on Saturday is especially sad given his life-long advocacy for his native Sudan. In addition to donating much of his basketball earnings to his homeland and visiting refugee camps there, he established the Ring True Foundation to support Sudanese refugees. So dedicated was he to his people that after he retired and the NBA gravy train dried up, he was willing to submit to cheap publicity stunts like fighting William “the Refrigerator” Perry in a celebrity boxing match, donning racing silks to become the world’s tallest jockey, and skating in a minor league hockey game to raise money for the foundation. But there’s one more reason to miss the affable Dinka royal: he popularized the term “my bad.”

I’ve said it, you’ve said it, we’ve all said it numerous times. “My bad.” It just sounds right, and now that I know he was among the first to use it, it adds another nuance to its meaning. Bol was humble and polite in a funny way. There’s no way a guy like that is ever going to blend in, so he picked up an expression that he probably had to use countless times as his spindly arms and legs and 7’6″ (or 7’7″) frame stumbled through a world designed for much smaller people.

Bol played in the first NBA game I ever attended, Bullets vs. Celtics in the Capital Center in D.C., and I remember being blown away by his height and athleticism. He was amazing, not like Jordan but a freakishly tall martian who could seemingly block any shot. But as impressive a basketball player as he was, he was a more impressive human being.

“My bad.” No, Manute. You good.