In 20 NBA seasons we saw both Kobe with Hair and without Hair. Each hairstyle marks a significant part of his career.
Any reference to bald Kobe and you know it’s the latter part of his life, Afro Kobe, and it’s in reference to him becoming a household name and lastly his buzz cut which was the 1st haircut he wore on the court!
Our editorial details the timeline between Kobe with Hair and Kobe without Hair
Short Buzz Cut
(1996 – 1997)
The year is 1996, baby face Kobe has been drafted to the NBA and it’s the buzz cut in which he’s introduced to the world with.
The look becomes his trademark throughout his 1st season. NBA slam dunk competitions, rookie cards and TV appearances all feature Kobe in his buzz cut.
Allen Iverson would go on to change the culture around hairstyles being the 1st player to style braids in 2001, prior to this NBA players were mostly in uniform.
The most common hairstyles were short buzz cuts and crew cuts, today we have many examples of braids and dreads, just look at Ja Morant’s Hair, Kawhi Leonard or James harden Hair!
(1997 – 2002)
During this period we began to see Kobe becoming a household name and a look to go along with it meant growing out his hair and styling the afro.
Kobe kept his afro medium sized which was thick and regularly ensured he had a fresh line up.
Most will reference Afro Kobe being some of his best years as he went on to win NBA championships and MVP awards during this time. Kobe Afro marks time!
Outside of the hairstyle simply being a new look for the athlete black hair is a representation of black pride.
Throughout American history it has been constantly used as a symbol of freedom of any oppression against black people as it was used amongst the Black Panthers during the civil rights movement.
Buzz Cut/Crew Cut
(2002 – 2010)
The end of his afro hair would then see him revert to his original buzz cut with the subtle difference being hair slightly longer than his 1997 look.
In addition to this Kobe would begin to have his side faded to create a minor contrast with the hair on top.
The side areas were shaved shorter to make his crown appear fuller in contrast and this was a trick he would do to cover thinning areas before it became more apparent.
A small but impactful faded section just above the sideburn is enough to create an alternative look.
Balding and Receding Hairline
(2011 – 2019)
During this era we began to see Kobe 1st experience a receding hairline as his 1st sign of male pattern baldness which he would then completely cut for a bald look.
Some of the greatest NBA players have gone bald, Michael Jordan and Shaq to name a few and Kobe would join them on the list.
Now the question you may be wondering is, why do so many NBA athletes go bald?
This ultimately comes down to genetics as the primary baldness gene is the X chromosome which comes from your mother’s side.
This is what those NBA athletes have, whilst some athletes prefer to keep their hair shaved off low for practical reasons.
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