About two months ago, things in Grizz Country got a little hairy. It started when assistant video coordinator Jason March and assistant coach Henry Bibby sat down and had a conversation.
March: Hey Bibs, it’s that time.
Bibby: Since when do you call me Bibs?
March: Never mind that coach. It’s time. Time to bring the beard back.
Bibby: My goodness. The beard?
March: Yes coach. Only the beard can save us now. Let us call the Lionel – and bring forth the manes.
Sources conflict on the exact words that were spoken, so we are forced to assume that this is the actual conversation. The original idea? Keep growing the beards until the team is eliminated. That evolved into “keep growing the beards until we clinch.” Which has since evolved into “whatever really, but… I mean… if you had it this long…”
So we take a look at the best beards of the new playoff era. Aiding in the evaluations is Tara Alexander, men’s fashion expert and stylist at Memphis’ own Studio Stacy Salon.
6) Hamed Haddadi
This is what comes to mind when most people think beard. Think enough to comb, shape crawls nicely down the sideburns and connects around the mouth. Hamed was getting points even from Marc Gasol, who has worn a beard since about the seventh grade.
Haddadi loses a few points though for instantly shaving after the playoff-clinching Sacramento game.
Tara says: “This is a classic think look. He’s got it shaped pretty well – although he could stand to fill in the area between the soul patch and the beard.”
5) Shane Battier
Although every one of his teammates ranked his beard in their top three, Shane is another victim of the – had to bump you down due to immediate shaving. However Shane certainly went out in style. After the Sacramento game, Battier came into the locker room wearing only a hot-dog mustache. Explanation?
“Well my wife told me that if I went this long with the beard, I had to go one night with the ‘stache.”
True to his word it was gone the next day.
Tara says: “He’s got real think hair, and just a hint of gray in there. Makes him look real sexy. It was a sad day when this look went away.”
4) O.J. Mayo
This beard is nothing new to the team. It’s been there since draft day. It’s still there today, although chopped down just a bit. It’s a beard that endures things. Things like getting benched for Xavier Henry and/or Sam Young. Things like a 10-game suspension. Things like getting traded except not. All kinds of things.
Tara says: “He’s real clean cut. Obviously used to having that. It’s almost a Presidential beard.”
3) Henry Bibby
Part Saruman, part the bad guy from Iron Man, coach Bibby not only gets the most consistent credit for starting the beard trend, but he also sports one of the most unique beards. All white, perfectly groomed so it doesn’t look out of place with Bibby’s trademark dome, it stands out, and can still be seen on the sidelines.
Tara says: “This is perfect. He’s like a GQ Santa Claus.”
2) Lionel Hollins
There are conflicting stories concerning Hollins’ involvement in the creation of the team beard rule, but Hollins himself initially said he was just along for the ride and that he “would rather be clean shaven.”
Either that was bull, he’s adjusted, or he’s been enjoying the win-loss ratio, because after the Sacramento win, Hollins told the media he would be keeping his beard until the season was over – and he has.
That coaching staff certainly has a knack for this beard thing. It’s almost like they’ve done it before…
Tara says: “He’s nice and clean cut. Keeps it low. Like that. it suits him. Gray definitely working in his favor. Distinguished look. We’re gonna miss this look when the beard goes away.”
1) Marc Gasol
Like this is any surprise. Marc loses beard tenure only to O.J., but Mayo cannot compete with Gasol’s willingness to throw caution, and style concerns, to the wind. He embraces his role as the most Grizzled of the Grizzlies. He shows up at South of Beale wearing a “one man wolfpack” shirt. Just look at the insane beard evolution up there. He does not care what you think.
Prior to the short haircut, Gasol said he had some leeway with the beard and the hair because his girlfriend had been out of town. He also told me she was coming back the next day. Then the hair cut came in. So… I guess she let the beard go but the long hair was too much? Difficult to tell. But Marc has quite the edge in the post-beard beard look.
Tara says (regarding the full beard): “My goodness. [hands in face] It’s just so much on the bottom there. Makes his face too long. Much better if he sweeps up the bottom some.”