There’s a store in my local shopping mall named Vengeance 78.
Each time I go into the mall, I somehow find myself perusing the clothing racks in that small, overflowing store. I’ve never bought anything there, and I doubt I ever will. It’s far too hip for my tastes.
Yet I’m continually drawn back. Most of that is due to the dozen or so retro NBA jerseys hanging in the window. From the vintage teal Pistons jerseys to the Stockton/Malone-era Jazz jerseys, I can’t be faulted for at least giving the store a once-over. The 1990s were, simply enough, the halcyon days of NBA fashion.
Unfortunately, that golden status only applies to the apparel worn on the court. NBA players were not immune from the sartorial woes that plagued American life in the 1990s, and that much is evinced by examining NBA Draft looks from the days when Rick Pitino coached Kentucky and people couldn’t use their phone and internet simultaneously. Below are some of the worst outfits from that (thankfully) bygone decade.
Lamar Odom (1999)
Listen, I get that Lamar Odom is tall, meaning suit jackets look absurdly long on him. And this is also before the time when NBA big men had really solid tailoring options to fit their frames. But this outfit Odom is wearing here makes me think he’s about to emerge from behind a pole in a dimly-lit parking garage and introduce the next episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Maurice Taylor (1997)
My dad wore a tuxedo that was about the same color as Maurice Taylor’s suit to prom. It was hip and stylish among young people back then. However, that was in the late 1970s. Taylor decided to don that turquoise suit in 1997, well past the time when wearing a suit that color should have been acceptable.
Tim Thomas (1997)
While Tim Thomas the hockey player has worn some bland suits in his time, none has been as egregious as the white pinstripe suit that Tim Thomas the NBA player
wore swam in at the 1997 NBA Draft. Being a 5’10 person, I’ll never understand the struggles of trying to fit into a suit as an absurdly tall man. However, one can never go wrong with a slim fit suit.
Bonzi Wells (1998)
WHY DOES THAT JACKET HAVE SO MANY BUTTONS? I count at least 6 visible ones, and there’s at least two more being blocked by Wells’ hand. Even worse is that most of them are actually buttoned. It also looks like he’s putting a club-collared dress shirt with that suit, which just doesn’t fit. The best part of this outfit is the Pistons hat.
Terrell Brandon (1991)
This picture doesn’t necessarily do Brandon’s mustard-colored suit justice, but this one does. When I first saw this picture, I naturally realized that Bob Huggins must have had Brandon as his inspiration when he decided to sport a similar suit years later as head coach of West Virginia. Therefore, Brandon’s ability to rock this look better than Huggins is one thing he certainly has going for him.
People often decry the fashion choices of NBA athletes nowadays, saying that their pre- and post-game looks are often too extravagant or flashy. The people who say that are probably the people who still wear plaid shorts past middle school.
I’m glad that fashion is what it is now and I’m glad that athletes are taking such great care to look quite stylish off the court. Given the uniquely bad nature of 1990s fashion, I doubt anyone will write a post maligning the fashion of NBA players in the 2010s down the line.