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Swagged-Out Athletes of the '90s

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterJanuary 11, 2017

Swagged-Out Athletes of the '90s

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    SUSAN RAGAN/Associated Press

    The 1980s may have the well-earned reputation as the decade that fashion died, but the 1990s shouldn’t get a free pass on style just because it had the benefit of not being the '80s.

    The gaudy fashion disasters of the Reagan Era didn’t disappear overnight, but evolved into an entirely new kind of tacky that we never seem to recognize as it’s happening.

    For those of us who navigated middle and high school when the '80s died and the '90s came to life, there was a time when each us looked into a mirror and said, “This neon pink and black Nike jumpsuit looks hot on me.”

    As a cross section of all things pop and culture, the sports world often serves as a bellwether for the rest of society—and few eras embody this idea better than the '90s.

    Air Jordan, Reebok Pumps, flattops and all those enigmatic style icons of the Clinton years were equally about sports and setting new fashion trends (even if we look back in disbelief now).

    In hindsight, fashion sense is always 20/20, and these athletes are great examples of '90s style at its loudest.

Frank Thomas

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    AP Photo/Fred Jewell

    Date: August 1994

    Event: Photo Shoot 

    With time freed up because of the MLB strike, Chicago White Sox player Frank Thomas poses for photos which would be featured in an ad for a Chicago-based clothing store. 

    The tie flying in the fan-generated breeze? Nice touch. 

Chris Webber

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    AP Photo/Richard Sheinwald

    Date: May 1993

    Event: Press Conference 

    Former Michigan basketball player Chris Webber announces he will not be returning to college, opting instead to enter the NBA draft. 

    Webber’s contribution to Michigan’s famed Fab Five is almost as memorable as that shirt. Almost

Joe Montana

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    AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

    Date: August 1994

    Event: Chiefs vs. Vikings  

    Prior to beginning his second season with the Kansas City Chiefs, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana signs autographs for fans at New Tokyo International Airport. The team was in town to play the Minnesota Vikings in an exhibition game. 

    Athletes were all about the ridiculously loud shirts in the early to mid-90s. 

Wilt Chamberlain

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    AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

    Date: February 1997

    Event: Press Conference

    The great Wilt Chamberlain takes questions from the media as part of the NBA’s "50 Greatest Players” event in Cleveland, seriously swagging in sunglasses and a gold chain. 

    Decades after he first captivated basketball fans with his size and skill on the court, Chamberlain still had reporters eating out of the palm of his massive hand. 

New York Mets

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    AP Photo/Ed Bailey

    Date: January 1992

    Event: Team Luncheon 

    New York Mets teammates Todd Hundley, Paul Gibson, Dave Gallagher, John Franco, Bobby Bonilla, Howard Johnson and Willie Randolph pose alongside manager Jeff Torborg during a team luncheon at Shea Stadium. 

    That’s a lot of very ridiculous sweaters in a very enclosed space. The Cosby sweater in the far back is definitely the standout of the bunch, particularly when paired with that epic mustache. 

Dennis Rodman

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    AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

    Date: August 1996

    Event: Book Signing 

    Chicago Bulls bad boy Dennis Rodman somehow managed to outdo his own notoriously bad fashion choices by showing up to promote his book, Bad As I Wanna Be, dressed as a bride. 

Junior Seau

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    AP Photo/Doug Sheridan

    Date: February 1990

    Event: Press Conference 

    The late, great Junior Seau is pictured with his USC coach Larry Smith at a news conference in Los Angeles. That day Seau announced his intention to skip his final year of college eligibility and enter the NFL draft. 

    There’s no question that Seau is going full-on Little Richard here—the hair and mustache are too amazing for words. He kept it a little more casual by pairing it with a windbreaker, rather than a bejeweled suit. 

Shawn Bradley

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    AP Photo/John Discher

    Date: June 1993

    Event: NBA draft 

    Former BYU standout Shawn Bradley shakes hands with former commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers No. 2 overall in the 1993 NBA draft.

    The brown suit and the silk flower tie must have seemed like a really great idea at the time. In retrospect, though, probably one Bradley would like to have back. 

Michael Irvin

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    AP Photo/Doug Mills

    Date: January 1997

    Event: Cowboys vs. Panthers 

    An injured Michael Irvin walks off the field following a Dallas Cowboys loss to the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Irvin was hurt in the first quarter of the game and never returned. 

    What’s great about this photo is that it just as easily could’ve been taken last year. Irvin’s flashy sense of style actually hasn’t changed all that much from his playing days. Here’s hoping it never does. 

Eric Lindros

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    AP Photos/Mike Gross

    Date: June 1991

    Event: Press Conference 

    Eric Lindros is introduced at a press conference in Buffalo after being selected No. 1 overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 NHL draft. 

    Nothing says '90s cool guy like ridiculously frosted hair. As someone who loved this look on men back then, it’s always a surprised to be reminded of just how bad it was. 

Rickey Henderson

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    AP Photo/Alan Greth

    Date: November 1990

    Event: Press Conference 

    After being name the AL MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America, Oakland A’s outfielder Rickey Henderson talks to reporters at a press conference. 

    Henderson’s hair in this photo is a thing of beauty—it’s somewhere between a Kid ’n Play high-top fade and Johnny Unitas crew cut. Unfortunately, there’s no explaining the weird fit of that jacket. 

Troy Aikman

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    AP Photo/Tim Sharp

    Date: January 1995

    Event: Leaving Team Facility 

    Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman is trailed by reporters as he leaves the team’s training facility in Irving, Teaxs. Dallas had just lost to San Francisco, the earliest ending to their season in three years. 

    Decked out in all denim, Aikman inadvertently provides a little comic relief to an otherwise somber photo. That probably wasn’t his intention at the time, but a welcome turn of events. 

Michael Jordan

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    AP Photo/Ron Frehm

    Date: March 1995

    Event: Training Session 

    Bulls great Michael Jordan arrives at Berto training center outside of Chicago. His agent had just released a statement announcing MJ was returning to the NBA after an abysmal attempt at playing professional baseball. 

    If this was anyone else, I’d say he was dressed like a clown. But since it’s none other than His Airness himself, I’m going to say he’s looks like a champion. Plus, the Corvette really elevates the entire look. 

Martin Brodeur

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    AP Photo/Ron Frehm

    Date: June 1995

    Event: Stanley Cup Finals

    New Jersey Devils goalie Marty Brodeur smokes a cigar while taking questions from reporters following a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. New Jersey swept Detroit to win the championship that year.

    You don’t have to see anything that Brodeur is wearing from the neck down to see this is a man with swag. Win or lose, hockey players aren't known for being particularly animated off the ice, so this is a nice change of pace.

Ray Lewis

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    AP Photo/Jeffrey Boan

    Date: April 1996

    Event: NFL draft

    University of Miami standout Ray Lewis talks to the Baltimore Ravens, who selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Also pictured is his grandmother, Elease. 

    You know Lewis was channeling his inner Deion Sanders when he put together this gold-heavy look. And if that’s the case, you know those sunglasses aren’t just gold colored. 

Mike Piazza

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    AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

    Date: July 1995

    Event: MLB All-Star Game 

    Los Angeles Dodgers superstar catcher Mike Piazza stops to sign some autographs at the ballpark in Arlington, Texas, following the All-Star Game. His seventh-inning homer tied the game for the NL, which went on to win. 

    Piazza’s outfit is not nearly as ridiculously '90s as one would hope, but the hair and mustache more than make up for that. Not sure if that’s technically a Jheri curl, but it sure looks like it’s in the same family. 

Manute Bol

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    AP Photo/Francois Mori

    Date: October 1994

    Event: NBA European Tour 

    Golden State’s Manute Bol is all smiles during a conversation with assistant coach Bob Lanier. The two are photographed arriving at Orly airport in Paris—the Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets were in town to play an exhibition game at Bercy stadium. 

    As you can clearly see, Bol is swagging out of control in a slick blue suit, sharp black button-up and flashy gold chain. Lanier, on the other hand, looks like a current-day retiree heading to the mall around 7 a.m. for a brisk indoor walk. 

John Elway

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    AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

    Date: August 1990

    Event: Broncos vs. Seahawks 

    Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway and his wife, Janet, arrive at the New Tokyo International Airport and are greeted by the Japanese media. The team was in town to play the Seattle Seahawks in a preseason exhibition game. 

    Nothing about what Elway is wearing here should work, but somehow he’s able to pull the whole thing off. The only other person that routinely pulled this look off was A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell—those pants are classic Slater.  

Bill Cartwright, Stacey King and Horace Grant

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    AP Photo/Mark Elias

    Date: June 1992

    Event: Media Interviews, NBA Finals

    Bulls teammates Bill Cartwright, Stacey King and Horace Grant talk to the media ahead of the NBA Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. They would go on to win their second straight championship. 

    Winning championships is all well and good, but everything is better when you look great doing it. It’s safe to say few have rocked Zubaz pants harder than these fellas. 

Wayne Gretzky

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    AP Photo/Nick Ut

    Date: January 1993

    Event: Press Conference 

    The epic Wayne Gretzky announces he’s been cleared by the Los Angeles Kings team doctors to resume playing. The Great One had been out all season dealing with a herniated thoracic disk in his back. 

    Getting back into the lineup was obviously no small occasion for Gretzky—a man doesn’t dig out his swanky leopard print tie for just any news conference. 

Alex Rodriguez

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    AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

    Date: June 1993

    Event: MLB draft 

    Alex Rodriguez smiles as he receives a phone call from the Seattle Mariners, asking him to join the team as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. 

    Of course, that might be one of the most unenthusiastic draft-day smiles in sports history. Perhaps he was already regretting going with the denim button-up. 

Alonzo Mourning and Penny Hardaway

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    AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye

    Date: September 1994

    Event: Nike Hoops Heroes Team Tour

    Alonzo Mourning and Penny Hardaway play around on the Great Wall of China at Badaling, just north of Beijing. They were there as part of a Nike event to meet the Chinese All-Stars. 

    Those oversized, brightly colored Nike jumpsuits are a time warp back to the '90s.

Deion Sanders

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    AP Photo/Doug Mills

    Date: October 1992

    Event: Pirates vs. Braves 

    Superstar Deion Sanders leaves Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh after defeating the Pirates in Game 4 of the NLCS. He left immediately to rejoin the Atlanta Falcons for an NFL game the following Sunday. 

    And like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross and all the other great divas that came before him, Sanders has always known the value of a show-stopping fur coat. 

Deion Sanders

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    AP Photo/Chaz Pall

    Date: October 1992

    Event: Pirates vs. Braves 

    Deion Sanders arrives back in Pittsburgh to rejoin the Atlanta Braves as they face the Pirates in the NLCS. 

    Neon Deion left town in a fur coat and returned with carrying a Louis Vuitton purse. 

Lawrence Taylor, Magic Johnson and Pat Riley

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    AP Photo/Kathy Willens

    Date: March 1995

    Event: AIDS Fundraiser 

    NFL great Lawrence Taylor with NBA legends Magic Johnson and Pat Riley pose for a photo at the New York Sheraton. The event was sponsored by the Magic Johnson and Robin Hood Foundations, its purpose was to raise money for AIDS education and prevention programs. 

    Though they are obviously three very cool guys, LT definitely stands out as the swagtastic superstar in his color block leather jacket. The fact that he skipped a shirt in favor of some exposed chest hair makes the overall look absolute perfection. 

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