At some point throughout his career, James Harden is going to contemplate what seems unthinkable—cutting off that beard. He must know, however, that there are other options to be had.
While Harden will unlikely go the entirety of his career with that long, black mane hanging off his face, seeing him with a completely clean chin would be completely jarring.
His beard has created a cult of personality around Harden. People are drawn to him because he looks so different than the rest of the players in the NBA, yet he does it in a seemingly normal way.
Shaving, or even trimming it back down to size, would create a stir throughout the NBA the likes of which would not be able to match the gravity of what actually happened. It would be a complete overreaction, completely devoid of basketball-related substance.
That being said, it would be catastrophic.
However, if Harden were to take a different route and go from the long, thick beard and into a new facial hairstyle, fans might go ahead and attach to his new beard and completely forget about the old one.
With that, let's take a look at what possible transitions Harden could make, and figure out which new styles of facial hair would make for an interesting transition into the future, should he decide to shave.
Perhaps Harden reveals a long-tenured respect for the style of play that Drew Gooden puts forth. Perhaps he's just a fan of facial hair experimentation or maybe he's just completely gone bonkers and jumped off the deep end.
Any of the above would be a reason for Harden to adopt the old-fashioned, short-lived Drew Gooden octopus chin-tickler.
When Gooden wore it, it was just more of Gooden being Gooden. He's been a weird dude as long as he's been around the NBA, and he's always expressed it through his hair.
I find it impossible to look at this and keep a straight face. It'll never happen.
For those of you wondering, there's a world-wide beard and mustache competition every year that generates some increasingly interesting new beard styles.
The best of all has to be Elmar Weiss' beard carved into a windmill for the competition's freestyle portion, creating a complete dutch landscape out of facial hair.
Would it hold together for an entire game? Probably not. But, it would be cool to see it stand straight for the majority of the first quarter, start to sag by halftime and completely fall apart by the time the game is over.
Plus, if that windmill spins then you could really see how fast he's running when he's at top speed with wind zooming through the thing.
This is just the beginning of what could possibly be a marvelous next step for James Harden.
Completely shaving away the beard would be a start, but it would be the building block to the next big facial hair foundation.
To start things out, Harden would trim things down and put together a look like Hugh Jackman's Wolverine.
Unlike his current facial follicles, however, he wouldn't keep the hair growing downward, he would keep it bushing out.
Eventually, Harden could have a full-on set of old-timey mutton shops going on, and the legacy surrounding his facial hair would be more storied than ever.
This one's going to take a bit of a trim and a lot of hair dye, but it would ultimately turn James Harden into one of the most confusing-looking sports figures in the history of the NBA.
Just get rid of the beard's width, give it a bit more length and shave all the way down to the cheeks. That'll get him most of the way there.
From there all he needs to do is get somebody to dye the thing red for him, and we've got an instant NBA Alexi Lalas.
Of course, he could save a few hours of beard trimming and shaving and just go with a full-on Mike Commodore look, but something tells me he doesn't want to spend an entire month's salary on red hair dye.
This is for a few years down the road. There's some premature grey showing up in James Harden's beard, he's got an expiring contract and he's pondering his future.
The Houston Rockets have had a solid run, made it deep into the playoffs and even to the finals once, but they've yet to win it all.
Harden continues to play well, and speculation is abound about what he'll do past the 2017 season and in his free-agency period during the summer.
Houston struggles with the realization that he could leave, dropping the first three games in a first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers as the fourth-seeded Lakers take on fifth-seeded Rockets.
Harden is nowhere to be found before the start of fourth game. Nobody has seen him since the last game.
Just as tipoff is about to start, a beardless person comes down out of the audience wearing a #13 Lakers jersey with a piece of masking tape across the back.
Dwight Howard runs up to the man and rips the masking tape off his back, revealing the name "HARDEN" plastered across the back.
Holding a microphone, Harden looks up at the jeering Houston crowd, white mustache gleaming against the trimmed, neat black scruff as Harden announces that he'll be joining the Lakers in 2017.
Before he leaves he slams a leg drop on Jeremy Lin and gives a huge elbow drop to Chandler Parsons.