OKLAHOMA CITY -- Young, rich and the most outrageous dresser in the National Basketball Association, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook recently delivered a brilliant answer to the most important question of the NBA playoffs.
Why does Westbrook wear glasses without lenses?
“I see better without them,” he said.
That answer — that Yogi Berra-ism — is all you need to know about the latest fashion trend in the NBA, the world’s most star-driven professional sports league. On Tuesday after Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the four biggest names in the series — Westbrook, Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Heat forward LeBron James — all wore dorky frames for their postgame games interviews, which were aired live on national television. If you’re looking for a social agenda here in Oklahoma City — like, say, it’s cool to be a geek — you’re over thinking it. “Geek chic” is apparently just the latest way for the NBA’s stars to express themselves through fashion.
“Just like everybody, we all have something that we like outside of what we do,” Wade said. “So this whole fashion trends that come up, I don’t know, I’m sure it was done — Spike Lee’s been wearing glasses for a long time. I don’t know if they’re prescription or not.
“Trends, they come and go, and people get bored with them or they don’t. With the nerd glasses in the NBA, it’s just something fun to do right now. I’m sure next season it’ll be out the window.”
Is the trend catching on? Yes. In Miami, youngsters have started mimicking the oddball fashion sense of their favorite athletes. While Wade might wear $500 frames without lenses, kids in Miami have improvised. It’s not uncommon to see children wearing the new 3-D movie glasses with the lenses popped out.
Who started the lens-less fashion movement in the NBA? That’s up for debate. Westbrook tried to take credit for it on Wednesday, a practice day for both teams. When asked if he, Durant, James and Wade decided to all wear glasses to the postgame dais after Game 1, Westbrook asserted his individuality.
“No, I’ve been wearing glasses since I’ve been in the league,” he said. “I think everybody else just started wearing them now.”
Asked directly if he started the fashion trend, Westbrook said, “Hey, I ain’t saying nothing, but I’m just saying.”
His answer was greeted with a round of laughter by a room full of reporters covering the news conference, but James didn’t find it funny that Westbrook tried to take credit for the new look. Of course, you can’t blame James for not being the mood for light banter. His team lost Game 1 105-94.
“There’s no stories behind it,” James said. “You know, it’s a look, it’s a fashion thing. But [Westbrook] absolutely didn’t start it.”
While James emphatically trashed the idea that Westbrook, just 23, is an NBA trendsetter, the Heat’s star wouldn’t take credit for the style either.
“I don’t know who started it, honestly,” James said. “I think I’ve been wearing mine for about two years now. But I don’t know who started it. I could have been started back in the ’70s or ’80s.
The ’70s or ’80s?
“I’m serious,” James said. “Fashion comes and goes.”
If it’s a throwback look the players are going for, Durant certainly had it nailed on Tuesday night. After dropping 36 points on the Heat, including 17 in the fourth quarter, Durant wore what looked like a vintage G-Man suit for his post-game news conference.
While James, Wade, Durant and Westbrook might think they look good in their glasses, not all NBA players are on board. For instance, you’re not going to catch Heat forward Udonis Haslem wearing glasses without frames — he calls the trend silly.
Heat forward Shane Battier wears glasses, but only when he’s reading.
“My glasses are prescription,” Battier said. “Hey, call me old-fashioned.”