You are not going to believe this, but I had zany hair in high school. By the time senior year came around, I’d been growing it for so long that I opened the season in white guy cornrows that you could tell were highlighted, and sometimes I would play games where the best way to describe my hair was “Bizzy Bone.” My coach told me this was OK as long as I played hard.
Apparently, Jerry Sloan would make for a very good high school coach. From the Deseret News:
The Nuggets beat the Jazz by 14 that night. Andersen went 5-for-7 shooting, snagging seven rebounds and blocking three shots.
Sometime during the game, Jazz players had begun mocking Andersen’s body art, which didn’t yet include his famous “Freebird” collar. Upset with his team’s intensity, Jerry Sloan raged along the bench, where he overheard his players’ wisecracks.
“I wish ONE of you guys played as hard as him!” Sloan shouted.
Yeah, that sounds about right. In sports, you can get away with looking however you want if you either a) are awesome or b) try really hard all the time. If you’ve got one of those two things going on, you can look like Birdman, no problem.
Which brings up something I’ve wondered a lot about lately — are hustle players naturally drawn to looking different than anyone else? I mean, between Birdman, Joakim Noah and Anderson Varejao, you could make a pretty good case that that’s the case. Then you bring in the Lopez twins — Brook is more skilled and looks more normal, Robin has to rely more on playing hard and has pow pow curls — and you start to think that there might be some validity to that theory. Maybe being a hustle player post-Rodman just naturally draws in the weirdos or maybe you have to be a weirdo to be a great hustle player, the world may never know.
Either way, this just goes to show you that anything is possible in the NBA. I mean, if Jerry Sloan can come to appreciate Chris Andersen and his tattoos, then literally anything is on the table. Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria, Jerry Sloan parting his hair on the other side for even a single minute — anything.