You know that feeling when you step out of your Lambo at the ESPY’s onto the red carpet for hundreds of flashing cameras to try and get a glimpse of your freshly tailored suit than ran you a few thousand dollars? I don’t either. But sometimes I like to put on a fresh pair of Adidas sweatpants and a Nike golf polo, get in front of a mirror and practice for if that day ever does come.
Just like when you see an actor in street clothes, seeing pro athletes out of their jerseys can be a bit … unsettling. But when you stop and take a look, it’s fully apparent that some athletes do have some serious style on and off the (insert playing surface here).
The NBA is filled with flashing lights and cool sneakers, but one player takes the cake above all else for “basketball player with the most swagger.” The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook’s demeanor, style of play and street fashion put him at the top of the list for basketball, the sport in which the athletes most look like each other. I think that’s a compliment?
Everything from Russ’ cool walk to his calm and collected, yet sometimes fiery, diction is a staple of his swagger. Whether it’s stepping onto the court or walking away from a press conference after a loss, Westbrook knows how to play it cool. On the court, however, there’s not much that’s “calm and collected” about him. From nastily swatted shots to violent dunks, folks on the floor know to stay out of Russ’ way.
As for the NFL, Cam Newton defines swagger. The Carolina Panthers have, in my opinion, one of the cooler, cleaner color schemes in all the land. One of the first and most famous to start hittin’ the dab, Cam’s touchdown celebrations have everyone feeling some type of way. Newton not only wears No. 1, but he seems to be No. 1 with a lot of young NFL fans across the nation.
Newton’s natural ability to be a top quarterback (maybe not anymore, but once upon a time) goes to show that he’s not only about appearance; he’s meant to start in the NFL. Not only does the guy have cool moves and a flashy smile, but he even chews gum that’s the same shade of blue as the Panthers’ blue. C’mon, man.
Of all pro sports, perhaps the sport that best sets athletes up for success in the swagger department is golf. I mean, country clubs across the country have a specific dress code that requires you to have at least some degree of swag. Guys golfing on the PGA Tour, with all their sponsorships and free gear, are top dogs. The toppest dog, the biggest whoofer, the most sizeable canine (this is where I stop) of them all? Rickie Fowler.
Sure, Tiger all but trademarked Sunday Red, but how about Sunday Orange? Rickie got it right when he signed with Puma. His style is classy yet individualistic and is only mentioned next to his athletic accolades. Fowler dons the orange in remembrance of his college days at Oklahoma State (Oklahoma houses two athletes on a list of those with swag; of all states … Oklahoma? Really?).
Back when Rickie was a rookie – say that five times fast – he was still an adolescent with rebelliously long hair winging out from under his neon orange hat along with his neon orange shirt and neon orange belt and neon orange shoes and neon orange clubs – you get the picture. Ever since, Rickie got a haircut and honed in the orange a little bit. When a dart comes into the 18th green on Sunday to three feet from the pin, it’s nice to be able to look back in the fairway, see a blob of orange and know exactly who is dialed in.
So maybe I’ll never make it to the red carpet at the ESPY’s. But, hey, that sure isn’t going to stop me from buying and wearing a Russell Westbrook jersey on the court or orange Puma gear on the golf course – but student loans sure will.