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DeAndre Bembry’s Quest for Afro Stardom

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With great hair comes great responsibility.  Can DeAndre Bembry channel the 1970’s to sit on the throne as “Best Afro in the NBA?”

NCAA Basketball: St. Joseph at La Salle Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When the Atlanta Hawks selected DeAndre Bembry with the 21st pick in the 2016 NBA draft, the Atlanta barbershop community lauded the pick as pure genius. NBA draft hair experts had deemed Bembry and his perfectly round afro as the consensus number one hair pick of 2016. With such a masterfully sculpted hairdo, experts and fans alike were shocked to see the young man with both immense hair upside and the most pro ready hairstyle fall to 21.

With a hairdo that harkens back to the days of the ABA, DeAndre Bembry is the hair hero Atlanta deserves and the one it needs right now.

Today’s NBA has mostly forgotten the majesty and the storied tradition of the afro. Dr. J (and his glorious short shorts) is a basketball icon not just for his dunking prowess, but also for setting the standard of how an afro should look.

With only a select few attempting the afro in the modern era, Bembry has the hair to compete for the “Best Afro in the NBA.”

Let’s take a look at the contenders.


The Intimidator

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns
Robin Lopez brings style to the Paleolithic Era.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Robin Lopez’s ‘fro cares not about your drives to the basket. Lay up? Not tonight. Dunk? Try again. Floater? Just no. With hair resembling a wilted houseplant, Lopez has patrolled the paint for years in the NBA, blocking anything in sight. Lopez has used his afro not just for fashion, but to declare war upon opposing teams’ mascots.


The Mop

NBA: Toronto Raptors-Media Day
Lucas Nogueria’s chin afro is still in its infant stages.
Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

A beautiful fusion of an afro, Rastafarian dreadlocks, and a janitorial mop, Lucas “Bebe” Nogueria uses his avant garde style to create a hair masterpiece. Bebe might be the basketball doppleganger of Atlanta rapper Trinidad James. Hawks fans will never forget the 2013 NBA Draft where the Boston Celtics selected Nogueria in the first round for Atlanta. Bebe’s ‘fro was so defiant of the Celtics hat that it only allowed the hat to rest on top.


The Bounce House

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day
The only afro to play for both NBA Finals team in the same season.
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The love child of Sideshow Bob’s curls and Jackie Moon’s dirty blonde chia pet, Anderson Varejão morphs into a bouncing mess of afro as he sprints up and down the court. This quasi-afro looks to made of a thousand miniature slinkies. Known as a hustle player and energetic defensive presence, Varejão’s collection of slinkies provides a little extra spring to each jump as he skies for a rebound. If you dive for a loose ball around Varejão, then prepare for a face and mouth full of angry afro.


The Unicorn

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers
A rare sighting of Shaun Livingston’s afro in the wild.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Known mostly for corn rows during his playing days with the Clippers, Shaun Livingston would give his hair freedom to be a glorious afro on rare occasions. Seldom viewed during the Clippers’ 04-05 season, the thick and fluffy afro is like the Charizard you have been searching for in Pokemon Go: beautiful, striking, and not easily attained. Even with infrequent appearances, Livingston’s marvelous mane is the strongest competition Bembry’s afro faces for hair supremacy.

Can DeAndre Bembry carry on the hollowed tradition of the afro as the NBA’s hairstyle mogul? He certainly has the talent. Now, Atlanta’s barbershops need to help mold and train the young hair star to achieve follicular superstardom.