The National Basketball Players Association released a statement earlier this week in which all NBA players unanimously admitted to “feeling self-conscious about visible armpit hair.” According to players, the official NBA jersey is “broken in the armpits area,” leaving hair exposed, especially when taking a shot or playing defense.
The issue appears to be at the forefront of the ongoing NBA lockout, in which contract negotiations have been at a standstill for some time. Players Union President and former Los Angeles Laker Derek Fisher remarked in the aforementioned statement: “The lockout’s not about the money. Seriously. I’ve actually got way too many jacuzzis. Like seven. Or ten.”
“No,” Fisher continued. “It’s all about the armpits. It always was.”
“We’ve been silent on this issue for too long,” remarked Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd. “It’s time for players to come out of the locker room, so to speak. And we’re not gonna stop until a change has been made.” Kidd added: “Like put patches on the armpit parts. Or just sleeves or something. It could even be mesh. I mean, honestly, anything is better than just hair hanging out all willy nilly.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern released a statement in response to players’ concerns, arguing that the NBA jersey “has been that way since basketball was invented, and to change it would mark the loss of a classic tradition.” To this, Lakers power forward and center Pau Gasol replied, “Tradition shmashmition. Do you know how embarrassing it is to know everyone’s gonna see your gross armpit hair on NATIONAL TELEVISION? I dare David Stern to wear a tank-top to work everyday. See how he likes it.”
At a rally this week inside NBA headquarters in New York City, hundreds of players gathered from across the country in protest of the NBA jersey. Instead of regulation tank tops, protesters wore long-sleeve jerseys featuring the cause’s rallying call “Sleeves or We Leaves!” Speakers at the event included Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and that guy with the weird face mask thing on the Pistons. After a particularly rousing if brief speech delivered by retired Rockets center Yao Ming, police intervened and protesters were forced to vacate the premises, repeatedly hitting their heads on ceiling fixtures.
But some NBA players have found ways around the issue of “visible armpit hair.” “I just shave ‘em,” said Miami Heat point guard Mike Bibby. When asked to clarify what body parts “’em” included, Bibby nodded his head slowly. “Oh yeah. I’m like a fuckin’ mole rat.” “Wanna see?” he added.
Still, a majority of players agree that they would feel “more comfortable wearing something less revealing, like turtlenecks, sweatshirts or just shirts.” As NBA all-star LeBron James said in a recent interview, “I would honestly play better if I didn’t have this nagging feeling whenever I lifted my arms to shoot.” James elaborated: “Every time it’s like this little voice in the back of my head saying ‘Watch out, they’ll see! They’ll see your armpit hair, LeBron!’ I can’t shake it.”
With the recent coming forward of self-conscious NBA players, athletes in other sports have been inspired to voice their own uniform insecurities. “Don’t even get me started,” remarked Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. “I mean, you can totally see my dick, and don’t tell me it’s ‘European’ or some shit like that.”