We know Russell Westbrook now as the NBA's biggest fashion star. He sits front row at Fashion Week with Vogue EIC Anna Wintour. He turns up on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to plug his designer glasses line. He's the only grown man with enough gall to channel 2002 Avril Lavigne in 2016.
But it wasn't always this way, and that's what makes Westbrook so special. The last time the NBA had a breakout style star of this caliber was the early 2000s when Allen Iverson was in his prime.
A.I. might not personally vibe with the way NBA players dress today, but five years out from his retirement, The Answer is still defending the players' right to dress whatever way they want in face of the league's dress code.
Enacted in 2005, the NBA's new rules aimed to eliminate the hip-hop influence displayed in players' wardrobes in events directly related to the league: post-game press conferences, sitting out watching games from the sideline while injured, league-affiliated charity benefits, etc. The potentially stifling dress code relegated the players to suits and tailored separates. While there were several stylists -- namely Rachel Johnson and Calyann Barnett -- who helped steer NBA players away from the Steve Harvey school of suiting, the league was still void of the brash, unfuckwitable personal style that Iverson brought to the table until Russell Westbrook was thrust into the spotlight during the 2012 NBA Finals.
Since then, many other players have followed Westbrook's lead, experimenting more with the range of self-expression that fashion has to offer. The league itself has since identified fashion and style as a major part of the NBA experience (and a major sponsorship opportunity), ushering in Style segments for its Inside The NBA program and even putting together a fashion show for All-Star Weekend.