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DunkOrThree > Your Basketball Blog > NBA Players Without Facial Hair: The Clean Shaven Look

NBA Players Without Facial Hair: The Clean Shaven Look

Publish Date: 25.04.2024
Fact checked by: Emily Carter

The NBA is an ever-shifting league. Shooting styles come and go, offenses adapt, and teams rise and fall. While most of those changes occur on the court, some happen with style or looks too. One main example of that is with facial hair.

In today’s game, beards are king. Almost all of the league’s top players currently rock some sort of facial hair, and that trend only continues to grow in popularity. Even so, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, it’s a rather new trend.

Many players have chosen to go clean shaven throughout NBA history. Not only is it easier to manage, especially when sweating during and grooming after a game, but it also creates a sharp look that some athletes prefer.

To expand on that, his article covers the top NBA players who adopted that look by going over why they chose to shave, as well as how well the achievements they earned throughout their career.

 

1. Steve Nash

One of the best point guards of all time, Steve Nash rocked his clean shaven look when he first came into the league and kept it throughout his 17 seasons. So much so that it combined with his shaggy hair to become part of his signature look.

Where many players choose to grow out their hair with a beard or go short with no facial hair, the Suns guard switched up the look. The stark contrast was so unique that it’s how all fans remember him, even if he looks different now during his coaching era.

Shaving was a conscious choice for Nash, and for him it worked. While he never won a ring, the eight time all star earned back-to-back MVPs, 3 All NBA First Teams, and easily made the hall of fame. That, along with his smooth face, helped him stand out.

2. Russell Westbrook

Though he now has a short beard at the tail end of his career, Russell Westbrook has long been known for his smooth face. The all star guard never grew out his facial hair during his years in the league, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

While many players choose to go clean shaven as a stylistic choice or because it’s easier to manage during games, Westbrook stated that he never grew facial hair due to the fact that he couldn’t.

Even so, despite going clean shaven for most of his career, the Los Angeles Clippers point guard won an MVP award, averaged a triple double for an entire season, made two NBA First Teams, and appeared in a staggering nine all star games.

3. Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller is one of the best three point shooters of all time, and one of the most clutch athletes to ever play in the NBA. He scored at will, dominated plenty of teams, and is widely considered to be one of the top players of the 90’s. And he did it all with a smooth face.

Miller played in a different era. Though his five all star appearances, 25,279 career points, and retired jersey are great by any metric, he went clean shaven during a time when it was the norm.

The Indiana Pacers shooting guard has a look that might seem out of place in today’s NBA, but it was right at home during the 90’s. Back then, facial hair wasn’t as popular. As such, Miller simply followed popular trends and kept his face clean shaven.

4. Nikola Jokic

In the current NBA, beards are popular. However, that doesn’t mean every all star or high profile player needs facial hair. One notable exception is Nikola Jokic. The Denver Nuggets superstar center prefers to go clean shaven, and that choice hasn’t slowed him down one bit.

The back-to-back MVP is widely considered to be the best player in the game today. Though he hasn’t been in the league that long, he has a ring, three All NBA First Teams, 2 All NBA Second Teams, and six all star appearances. He’s also a scoring, rebounding, and passing machine.

While the reason for him choosing to go clean shaven remains a mystery, there’s no doubt that whatever Jokic decides to do with his facial hair is working for him in a big, big way.

5. Jerry West

Few players encapsulate the clean shaven look like Jerry West. The Los Angeles Lakers legend is one of the most iconic NBA players of all time, due to being the inspiration behind the notable logo, and he went his illustrious 14 year career without a beard or mustache.

West played in a different era, and one that he dominated. The shifty guard won a ring in 1972, made a whopping 10 All NBA First Teams, and played in 14 all star games. He was also a scoring leader (1972) and earned a spot on four NBA All Defensive First Teams.

As with Miller, West’s lack of a beard comes from his era. Though facial hair grew in popularity during the late 70’s and 80’s, it was rarely seen when he played. The style was a clean shaven look, and that’s what West adopted when he played.

Reasons for Choosing No Facial Hair

As mentioned, the choice to have or not have facial hair largely comes down to style and league-wide trends. Some decades every big time player has a beard or mustache, while other times they are much more rare.

Similar to NBA players with braids or dreadlocks, facial hair is a trend that goes through cycles. The decision to grow it out comes down to a variety of factors, including wanting to look more seasoned, a desire to change up a look, or what’s popular in the media.

There’s no single reason a NBA athlete may choose to go clean shaven. Personal preference matters as well. Even so, there’s no doubt that not having a beard does make the post-game process much easier due to having less to wash and clean.

Sweat can cause facial hair to become itchy. It can also be irritating for players to groom both before and after contests. Not having it reduces such irritation and can save a lot of time in the long run by making post game showers much easier.

However, many players use facial hair as part of their individual brand or look. Having a big, bushy beard helped make James Harden much more popular with his fans, and there are others who’ve grown out facial hair to stand out from the pack.

Going clean shaven might also be different in the current NBA, but it doesn’t generate the buzz or discussion unique facial hair might. Still, for some players the trade-off of not having facial hair outweighs any of those benefits.

It’s also worth mentioning that certain teams or organizations might frown upon facial hair internally. While there are no official policies, coaches or owners could want their team to look or appear a certain way while on the court. That’s another reason players might go clean shaven.

Impact on Performance and Perception

In the NBA facial hair acts as both a fashion statement and a style choice. It conveys a specific look and adds an air of experience to any player. On the other hand, clean shaven looks don’t quite come with the same air.

When it comes to playing, facial hair doesn’t affect the game. Some of the best players and MVPs have had beards, and there have also been plenty who are clean shaven. Having a beard vs. not having a beard has little impact on how someone plays. Still, it affects how they are perceived.

Based on fan feedback, it’s clear that facial hair is much preferred to the clean shaven look. While specific players can get away with shaving, almost every high profile player or big time all star has a beard. That’s true even if they were clean shaven in the past.

That’s partly due to shifting trends, and it’s partly due to social media. As mentioned, having facial hair generates more engagement from fans. The more someone sticks out, the more likely they are to garner outside interest and rise on social media.

That then translates to more popularity, which can then lead to endorsement deals, fun events, or unique opportunities beyond the game. Players might even grow out a big beard specifically to get more traction with fans on social media.

On top of that, facial hair creates a more seasoned look. That shows players have been in the league longer, which can give them additional respect both in the locker room and online. That’s why it’s something you see with veteran players more than rookies.

Conclusion

Going clean shaven is a key choice in modern basketball. While it doesn’t pay off in the same way that having a beard can, there are many personal benefits that athletes may enjoy such as not having to spend as much time grooming or less irritation during a game.

There have been quite a few talented clean shaven players in NBA history, but the trend is definitely swinging towards facial hair in a big way. That’s because society seems to prefer facial hair as a whole, which makes the look more popular with fans.

Social media is at the forefront of many trends, and the more popular beards and mustaches become with young fans, the more NBA players are likely to grow them out. If the past decades are any indication, clean shaven players might exist, but they will only get rarer over time.

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