There used to be a time where up and coming basketball players seemed to think that hairstyles that left little to no follicles on their heads made them look cooler, and helped the play more aerodynamically.
Of course, there’s no direct link between the type of “‘do” a player has and their effectiveness on the court. It’s an urban legend, a myth; a tale that sounds better in theory than it is in practice.
There’s no shortage of active NBA players with healthy manes that are primetime performers, and some of the biggest names in basketball history have donned long hair.
Let’s take a look at 15 long-haired players, both past and present, who have left their mark on the minds of basketball fans
Top 7 Current Players with Long Hair
It’s been a staple of his look ever since he played for the University of Louisville. Philadelphia 76ers reserve center Montrezl Harrell hasn’t been the most athletically gifted player to come into the NBA, but his tireless effort to bring the ball to the basket accentuates the dreads he wears to the court.
He’s been a valuable piece on good teams for a long time. Harrell hasn’t started many games in his NBA career, but he’s brought a nice scoring touch off the bench that sustains an offensive rhythm for his team.
Think about some of the biggest games NBA fans have had the pleasure of witnessing in the last decade or so. There’s been one common thread in a lot of those contests.
Forward Jae Crowder, known for his physicality on the defensive end, and his fearlessness in crunch-time moments, has played on some really good teams in his career. He somehow has yet to win an NBA title, but fans can expect the man with the tied-back hair to resurface on a roster that has a chance to win it all in the spring.
Some players on our list have had long hair since they came into the NBA, or were in the public eye as collegians. Not Steven Adams.
He was as clean-cut as it got when he was drafted into the professional ranks by the Oklahoma City Thunder. It doesn’t seem like Adams, who’s been a force in the low post for a long time, has gotten a haircut since he entered the NBA.
His rugged look and copious tattoos add to his popularity, which also adds to Adams’ intimidating persona as a center for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Watching Kelly Olynyk is always a treat because he’s impossible to miss on the floor. His long, blonde hair, tucked under a well-positioned headband, keeps him at the forefront of everyone’s attention.
Olynyk, now with the Utah Jazz, has also played a distinct brand of basketball dating back to his days at Gonzaga University. He has respectable dribbling skills as a big man and isn’t afraid to initiate offense as a change of pace.
Jordan Clarkson, Olynyk’s teammate with the Jazz, is another player who sports a long-haired look these days. He’s been a spark plug off of the Utah bench for many years and is one of those players who has never met a shot he didn’t like.
Clarkson and Harrell both have some impressive hardware that they’ll be able to flaunt for the rest of their lives. Each player was named Sixth Man Of The Year in their career, with Clarkson’s honor coming in the 2020-2021 season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are starting to turn things around in the post-LeBron James era, and point guard Darius Garland is a major reason why. The All-Star player has proven to be a factor in a variety of ways.
His scoring has improved each year he’s been in the league, which is impressive considering he now shares a backcourt with Donovan Mitchell. Garland has also become an elite playmaker, as he’s been near the top of the NBA in assists in each of the last two years.
While his minutes have been drastically reduced as an older player, there’s no doubt that Derrick Rose is one of the best players to ever don long hair in the NBA. It’s true that during his heyday with the Chicago Bulls, Rose kept the hairstyle nice and tight as he dunked on powerless defenders.
However, despite some injury adversity, Rose’s ability to grow out of playing a starring role flourished. His hair also grew during the second half of his career, when he made a name for himself as a bench scorer and bellowed teammate.
There are few players in the NBA who provide more highlight-reel-worthy moments on a nightly basis than Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant. He’s just as much of a threat to corral a chase-down block as he is to throw down a ferocious dunk over a player a foot taller.
He’s been named to the All-Star team in each of the last two seasons, and it’s hard to envision him missing the cut for as long as he stays healthy. Morant’s most pressing goal will be to get his Grizzlies team over the playoff hump in the Western Conference.
Top 8 Past NBA Players With Long Hair
The globalization of the game was another avenue that introduced fans to some interesting long-haired players. Perhaps one of the most beloved international players was Luis Scola, who was essential to the success of the Argentinian national team in the 2000’s.
Scola would play for five NBA teams throughout his career, most notably for five years with the Houston Rockets. He averaged a career-high 18.5 points per game in the 2010-2011 season.
Speaking of well-regarded players hailing from South America, Maybyner Rodney Hilario, otherwise known as Nene, had a solid run in the NBA. His career was marred by injury early on, but Nene never gave up.
He wasn’t particularly special in any area of the game, but he did a lot of things well. This allowed teams to use Nene’s versatility to get the best out of his teammates around him.
One of the most infamous long-haired players in NBA history is Joakim Noah. He came into the league with a lot of hype, as he won two college national championships while at the University of Florida.
Noah’s unique personality and quirky way of approaching certain things made him stick out, but he was also a tremendous player. There was a stretch in the 2010’s where Noah would play at the high post for the Chicago Bulls because he was the best passer on their team.
This long-haired assassin helped usher in an era where taller players could do most of their damage from the perimeter. Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki would bring the ball up the floor and routinely nail three-point buckets with ease.
He was one of the most difficult players to guard in league history. Nowitzki had the skills to drive around defenders who were too slow to stay in front of him, and the touch to shoot over the top of shorter players.
He had a complete mop of a haircut, but “Pistol” Pete Maravich cleaned up when it came to putting on a show for the fans. Thanks to meticulous drilling administered by his father Press as a child, Maravich came into college and the NBA with a plethora of dribbling tricks.
Back in a time when it wasn’t cool to take shots far away from the basket, Maravich hoisted them with confidence and ease. It’s fair to wonder how many more points he would’ve finished with had he played most of his years with a three-point line.
If there was one word that described Anderson Varejão’s game, it was a hustle. He was fondly remembered by fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors for crashing the offensive and defensive boards, as well as diving on the floor for loose balls (and for his signature curls).
You wouldn’t know it from his personal statistics page, but Varejão is an NBA champion. He accepted a ring from Golden State after playing 14 regular season games with the team during the 2016-2017 campaign.
We don’t see too many players enter the NBA with the type of resume Bill Walton had when he left UCLA. The Bruins basically never lost with Walton on their roster, and the selfless style of the big man made other teammates want to move without the basketball.
Although Walton battled a bunch of foot injuries throughout the course of his career, he won championships with two iconic teams. He was a star on the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers team, and a key reserve on the 1986 Boston Celtics squad.
Despite his unceremonious tenure as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash’s playing career remains one of the most lauded for a point guard in league history. During his time running the offense for the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, Nash would consistently push his hair out of his face in the heat of battle.
It felt like he had eyes in the back of his head, as the Hall of Famer would set teammates up early and often. He won the MVP award twice in his career and is fifth all-time in total assists.