The NBA’s most recognizable hair (beards excluded, James Harden) is no more. The Phoenix Suns’ Elfrid Payton has eliminated one of the biggest talking points of whatever basketball game he was playing in by cutting his signature hair.
Payton posted the cut on his Instagram story Friday morning:
His hair was often joked about as one of the best defenders in the NBA, or an “Elfrid Payton stopper.” Why? Because, well, the flopsy part hanging over his eyes got in the way sometimes.
This is perhaps his most notable miss that was likely affected by his hair:
With a closer look, either the basketball brushed against Payton’s hair, or his hair was covering so much of his face that he lost sight of the rim. We can’t be sure which is the case, but it’s pretty clear that it’s one or the other, which isn’t great!
Michael Brice-Saddler watched 62 Payton free throws in March of 2017 to determine whether or not the hair was affecting Payton at the stripe. He found that Payton’s free throws mostly missed by hitting either the front or back of the rim.
Front of rim: 27
Sides of rim: 11
Back of rim: 24
His conclusion? “Considering all this evidence, it’s not far-fetched to think Payton’s hair might play a factor in his broken jumper. But it’s still unclear how much it actually hurts him.”
This upcoming NBA season may show us whether his hair was actually a problem. But regardless of how you felt about the appearance of his hair, or its effect on his game, there’s no denying that it was unique. Payton’s hair made him a recognizable player even though he isn’t a superstar.
The biggest tragedy in all of this is that Payton doesn’t look like Jean-Michel Basquiat anymore. But his new haircut does look good, so good for him.
It might be May, but it’s never too late for the whole “new year, new me” thing.