Headbands have one primary function in sports – to keep sweat from dripping down players’ faces and onto their bodies.
Despite the practicality of their existence, headbands aren’t used by every basketball player. There’s a level of comfort that a hooper needs to have with their headband to rock it on the court consistently.
Some of the greatest players in the NBA have worn headbands, and we’ll pay homage to the current stars and legends of yesteryear who did.
Top 10 Current Players Known for Wearing Headbands
When he was a rising phenom at St. Vincent St. Mary’s High School in Ohio, the teenage version of LeBron James rocked a headband.
Throughout his NBA career as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers, the league’s all-time leading scorer continues to don the headgear (many people claim it’s to cover up his receding hairline).
The 19-time All-Star is playing at a high level well into his late 30’s, and it’s anyone’s guess as to when he might call it a career.
Los Angeles has another superstar that elects to use a headband to keep sweat off of his “brow” – forward Anthony Davis. Since being selected first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans, Davis has dazzled fans with his extraordinary talent.
He had a standout performance in the 2020 Playoffs, which led the Lakers to the NBA title.
Despite being a 2-time All-Star and an NBA champion, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday is still somehow underrated. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, and shines on offense when Milwaukee is in dire need of a hoop.
His brother Justin Holiday, also an NBA player, has also been known to go with the headband as a consistent part of his look.
Even though he’s spent most of his NBA career playing for a struggling franchise, the world is starting to realize just how talented Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is. He made a substantial leap in the 2022-2023 season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and was selected as an All-Star for the first time.
It’s going to be fun to see if the organization decides to build around the former University of Kentucky star.
During the impressive run the Toronto Raptors made to win the 2019 NBA championship, most fans were focused on the contributions of Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. Little did the team know that forward Pascal Siakam was about to shine brightly on the big stage as well.
Originally born in Cameroon, Siakam’s story of perseverance and patience is one that a lot of young players can look up to.
Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers is a prototypical player manning the center position in today’s game. He has the ability to defend the rim and block shots, while also stretching the floor as a three point shooter.
Turner has been the subject of trade rumors for a couple of years, but recently signed a contract extension with Indiana.
It’s hard to think of any current player having a more impressive afro than Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen. It almost feels like his ‘fro, anchored by his headband, could block a shot or two by itself.
It seems like Allen has found a home in Cleveland paired with talented forward Evan Mobley.
After taking a few years to find his stride with the Detroit Pistons, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has proven to be a reliable role player on good teams. He won a title with the 2020 Lakers, and is hoping to get another ring with the Denver Nuggets this season.
Caldwell-Pope is known for his effective floor spacing, and solid perimeter defense.
There wasn’t too much expected from Derrick White when he was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2018, but he’s grown into a steady rotation player. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich believed in the former University of Colorado product, and that faith has been well-rewarded.
White now plays for the Boston Celtics, and hopes to help his new team win a title.
Watching Bobby Portis play at the University of Arkansas left many convinced that he would be something special at the next level. He hasn’t quite achieved star status, but there’s no question that Portis’ spirit and energy are extremely valuable for the Milwaukee Bucks.
When he gets going, Milwaukee fans like to chant “Bobby, Bobby”.
Top 10 Past Players Known for Wearing Headbands
Whenever there was a question about who could get a bucket, Allen Iverson always provided “The Answer.” He had an awesome nickname, to go along with a style that many wanted to mimic in the early 2000’s.
Iverson’s cornrows, killer crossover, and ability to finish in traffic make him one of the most memorable players in NBA history.
It’ll always be difficult to contextualize just how great Wilt Chamberlain was. His statistics were nothing short of absurd, as he routinely scored over 50 points and grabbed over 25 rebounds.
Chamberlain still owns the single-game scoring record, having dropped 100 points on the New York Knicks in 1962.
“The Truth”, as former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce was known, genuinely picked up his game during high leverage situations. He would use his size, strength and mid-range game to frustrate defenders looking to slow him down.
Pierce was able to win a championship in 2008, and was also named NBA Finals MVP that year.
There were a lot of interesting attire choices in the 1970’s. Bill Walton probably wasn’t looking to start a trend, but his headband/long-hair combination gave him a distinctive look.
Walton would go on to win two titles, one each with the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics.
Carmelo Anthony had defenders at his mercy on the wing in an isolation situation. He had a deep bag of moves he could go to, including a pull-up jumper, a bully-ball back down and a smooth turnaround fadeaway.
Although he never won a championship, there are few players in basketball history who could score as easily as Anthony.
It took him some time to find his footing, but Ben Wallace and his trademark toughness became the identity of some gritty Detroit Pistons teams in the 2000’s. Wallace would clean the glass by himself, as he snared rebounds away from opposing frontcourt players.
Wallace was also the centerpiece of the Pistons defense, and won 4 Defensive Player Of The Year awards in his career.
In this day and age, there aren’t too many point guards who are exclusively focused on getting their teammates the best shots, but that’s what Rajon Rondo did. He never put his own scoring above anyone else’s, and was a table-setter in every sense.
Rondo won two titles in his career; as a young player with the Boston Celtics, and as a veteran with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jason “The Jet” Terry never made an All-Star team during his 19-year NBA career, but he was an integral part of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks championship team. Donning high socks and a trademark headband, Terry would make one clutch hoop after another to secure the title.
He was named the 2008-2009 Sixth Man of The Year as well for his contributions off the bench.
He’s one of the forgotten role players of the 90’s, but Cliff Robinson was a little ahead of his time. The 6’10” forward would try to fend off some of that era’s powerful forwards, while also having the ability to make a shot from the outside.
Robinson ended up playing in the league for 18 years.
Kenyon Martin was the first overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft, and was known for a couple of things. When he was a young player with the New Jersey Nets, Martin would throw down some exciting alley-oop passes from point guard Jason Kidd.
As he got older, Martin turned into more of a rugged player, who helped establish a tone on defense.