At 4-11 through the first 15 games, the New York Knicks have been a disaster for several years, and they will likely be a disaster going forward. Luckily for the Knicks, Frank Ntilikina offers something positive to the team — via his sense of fashion.
The French point guard is seen entering games looking quite fashionable, even if the Knicks’ play leaves something to be desired. In a league where players like Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and D’Angelo Russell garner attention for pre-game outfits, Ntilikina flies under the radar. But he may deserve to be put in the upper-echelon of NBA dressers.
One memorable fit, as reported by GQ, was such a bizarre conflation of different styles that it worked. Ntilikina showed up wearing Jack Purcell-style shoes and clothes of varying sizes. His dark-gray jeans were skinny and ripped up, with his large feet offering quite the visual. His Balenciaga sweater, oversized and gray, sold the look, and the bag that hung over his shoulder was the cherry on top.
Ntilikina brings European fashion stateside while creating a personal sense of style that sets itself apart from many other NBA players. But he helps highlight the continuing collision of fashion and basketball that has swept the NBA.
Fashion in the NBA
Twenty years ago, the fashion of the NBA was very much a product of its time. Largely led by Allen Iverson, whose streetwear drew both praise and ire from fans and talking heads. Players showed up at games wearing baggy pants, sweatsuits, chains, and jerseys that were popular in hip-hop fashion back then.
The league responded with a controversial dress code that many believed was racially motivated. This began with run-of-the-mill business casual clothing. After years of forgettable fashion, however, a new wave of NBA players brought back a different type of flare. Gone were jerseys and chains; in were designer jackets, skinny jeans, and accessories.
Although it’s hard to pinpoint when the current wave of fashion trends began, LeBron James may have been the most important player in the modern movement. James arrived to games wearing an array of clothes, from suits to sweaters to turtlenecks and more. His teammate, Dwyane Wade, was also showing up to games like this.
NBA fashion in 2019
According to GQ, D’Angelo Russell is the most fashionable player in the NBA, but every player has a story to tell. Some players still arrive in generic business casual clothes, but several players use their fashion to express themselves.
If the league still considers the original dress code the rule, they appear to be lax in enforcing it, as players arrive in t-shirts and other items that may have been frowned upon in the David Stern years.
From Westbrook’s several genres of outfit to James’s penchant for getting his teams matching suits to wear to big games, fashion is part of the spectacle of the modern NBA game, and several players have developed reputations of their own based on their styles and aesthetics.
Ntilikina may not play for a team that garners many headlines, but he’s still expressing himself in a way that’s unique and resonant to the state of NBA fashion.