5 NBA Players Who Were Better Dressers Than Ballers

Ben ShapiroAnalyst IIIApril 19, 2012

5 NBA Players Who Were Better Dressers Than Ballers

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    The NBA is not like every other sports league. 

    The league has its own set of unique qualities, dictated by nothing more than where and when and who plays the game professionally. 

    The league is played indoors. Barring natural disasters, there are no weather-related cancellations. The NBA is also played in a comfortable environment. Even in the days before air conditioning and temperature control were as common as beer and peanuts, there was a lack of direct exposure to the elements means that you won't see fans in rain slickers, ski jackets or wool scarves.

    Then there are the players. NBA players are, for the most part, in exceptional physical shape. Their long and lean bodies aren't like those of other professional athletes. NFL players tend to be very muscular and in some cases outrageously wide-bodied.

    Baseball players are known as much for those players that are portrayed as out of shape as for those that are elite athletes.  

    There was also a considerable period of time before commissioner David Stern decided to run his league like a boarding school that the players were allowed to showcase their own personal style without the constraints of a rigid dress code. 

    When a player is injured or sick or recovering from an injury, he will attend games and he might even travel with the team, but rather than wearing shorts and the team issued warm-ups while on the bench, he will wear a suit. These days, he has to. 

    The rigid NBA Dress Code instituted in 2005 is detailed in what players can and can't wear and when they can and can't wear certain items of clothing.

    Nonetheless, pre-and-post dress code there have always been individual players whose style has stood out. Some have been good players, some have been great players and some weren't that great at all. Some of the best dressed players of all time were also among the greatest players of all time. That's why men like Wilt, Magic, Jordan, Kobe and Wade won't be appearing in this slideshow. As well dressed as they all are or were, their basketball skills are what made them.

    For some on this list, the clothes really did make the man. 

Pat Riley

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    Pat Riley Career Stats: 9 seasons, 7.4 PPG, 41.4 percent from the field


    There's a good reason that many younger readers may not have even known that Pat Riley played in the NBA. It's because his playing career was quite mediocre. 

    As a coach and team president, he's been fantastic. He lead the "Showtime" Lakers of the '80s to dynasty status and helped to rebuild the New York Knicks in the early 1990s, and finally, he has done well as a coach and executive of the Miami Heat. 

    Along the way, he's always been known as a style maven. His slicked-back hair has become his calling card, but his perfectly-tailored and expensive suits are also his trademark. He's made the cover of GQ Magazine on multiple occasions and to this day always seems dressed to impress in public appearances. 

Stephon Marbury

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    Stephon Marbury Career Stats: 13 Seasons, 19.3 PPG, 7.6 APG, 43.3 percent from the field

    Stephon Marbury was supposed to be a star from the get-go.

    He was a star high school player at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn New York. Then he was a star NCAA player at Georgia Tech. He was a lottery pick in the NBA draft and for several years he really did look like he might fulfill all the expectations that had been laid out for him. 

    It didn't last, though. Marbury ran into as assortment of issues both on and off the court, but through it all he did always look like a star.

    He even created his own brand of stylish and affordable "Starbury" brand sneakers. Marbury runs that company and it may end up bringing him more positive publicity than the basketball career that made it possible.  

Kevin Willis

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    Kevin Willis Career Stats: 21 Seasons, 12.1 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 48.7 percent from the field. 

    One thing about being 7'0" like Kevin Willis—it's hard to find clothes that fit. It's even harder to find the real nice stuff. Not sneakers, dress shoes. Not t-shirts, tailored button-downs. Not casual jackets, a nicely fitted sport coat, and suits of course. You've got to have a nice suit. 

    NBA big men aren't just tall, they're athletic, and they also have money. That means they'll pay for quality and style, especially living in a world in which they're surrounded by it. At their size, they have few avenues by which to acquire quality and stylish attire. 

    That's where Kevin Willis comes in. When he was on the court from the mid-'80s all the way into the middle of the following decade, Willis was always dependable. At his peak in the early 1990s, he was a nightly double-double machine. Well after those seasons he continued to produce in smaller quantities.

    Willis was always aware of the limited options in men's fashion for NBA big men. For that reason, he started his apparel company "Willis and Walker" not long after he got to the NBA, when he was playing for the Atlanta Hawks.

    Willis is determined that not only will he be well-dressed, his former peers and current NBA players will be as well.  

Gilbert Arenas

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    Gilbert Arenas Career Stats: 10 Seasons ( to date), 20.8 PPG, 5.3 APG, 42.1 percent from the field

    There was a time several years ago when Arenas would not have been considered for this slideshow. After all, it's about basketball players who are better dressers than ball players. 

    From the 2004-2005 season through the 2006-2007 season, Arenas averaged 25.5, 29.3 and 28.4 points per game. Those are impressive numbers, and had he kept that pace up, he'd be headed for Springfield. 

    Instead, Arenas suffered through injuries and an unfortunate incident involving a gun in the Washington Wizards' locker room. 

    Injuries, the off-court incidents and the natural progression of aging all slowed his career considerably. He's still stylish, though. At his peak, he was having lavish birthday parties thrown for him by Sean Combs and even at his gun possession court hearing he was wearing a tasteful and understated dark suit. 

    Arenas is currently averaging only 13.5 minutes and 5.1 points per game for the Memphis Grizzlies. If this is the end of his hoops career, then perhaps the fashion world will come calling? 

Walt "Clyde" Frazier

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    Walt Frazier Career Stats: 13 Seasons, 18.9 PPG, 6.1 APG, 49 percent from the field

    While plenty of Hall of Fame-caliber NBA players have been very well dressed, none have really stood the test of time in the same way that Walt "Clyde" Frazier has. 

    In all fairness to his playing days, I'm not totally sure that Frazier's style is actually better than his on-court exploits. It's close, though. 

    Frazier is a man of many different styles and he's known for some specific outfits as well.

    He's the only man on this list who is a Hall of Fame inductee for his on-court playing skills. Pat Riley made the Hall for his coaching.

    Frazier was a fantastic player for sure. Was he actually a better dresser? Probably not, but he's close enough to be included in this slideshow.