Tag Archives: NBA playoffs

The Power of Facial Hair

A good beard can get you a long way in life. Just ask James Harden. Harden’s play this season (and his beard of course) have propelled the Thunder all the way to the NBA Finals.

If you look closely, you can see a small bird living inside Harden’s beard.

While Harden has had his beard for several years now, many others grow theirs specifically for the playoffs, most famously in the NHL. That tradition dates back to the 1980’s when the New York Islanders had four games in five nights and didn’t have time to shave. Since then, come playoff time, players in nearly every sport will follow the tradition and hope the superstition proves useful.

But the effects of impressive facial hair have been well documented throughout sports history. Let’s take a look.

Even Davis can’t believe how nice his beard was.

Baron Davis: Just as Baron’s beard reached its maximum volume, miracles began happening for the 2007 Golden State Warriors. Finishing the season 16-5 to earn the 8th seed with a 42-40 record, the Warriors faced the NBA’s best team in the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki coming off of an MVP season. The rest, obviously, is history.

Davis and the Warriors dismantled Dallas  and nearly snuck by the Utah Jazz in round 2 in a series that featured arguably the best play of Davis’ career. Davis and his beard gained notoriety after that season, as Boom Dizzle himself details in this video.

Brian Wilson: Moving across the Bay, Wilson followed in the path of his fellow Giant Barry Bonds in achieving greatness through frowned upon measures. Pledging at the beginning of the season to not shave until his team won a World Series, the eccentric Wilson took that a step further by dying his beard black. He pushed aside the accusations by claiming the beard was “just really tan.”

Just slap some mascara on Wilson and Captain Jack Sparrow would have some competition.

Despite the tainted beard, the Giants also had some playoff miracles, particularly in their NLCS matchup against the Phillies. In Game 1, Cody Ross hit two home runs off Roy Halladay, who had yet to give up a hit in the playoffs, and the Giants went on to win the series 4-2 behind Wilson’s 3 saves and 1 win.

San Francisco moved on to face the Texas Rangers in the World Series and won the title with relative ease in 5 games. After that, Wilson’s beard became a legend, prompting obligatory “fear the beard” chants every ninth inning and his own t-shirt.

Johnny Damon:The 2004 playoffs was another big win for beards. Damon, sporting a massive beard rivaling many a vagrant, helped propel the Boston Red Sox to their first World Series title since 1918.

Damon added the long hair to his beard to go for the cave man effect.

After falling behind 3 games to none in the ALCS matchups versus the Yankees, Boston rallied back to win the series, bolstered by Damon’s game-winning run in the 14th inning of Game 5 and his 2 home run, 6 RBI game 7. Having reached the World Series, Damon’s home run to lead of Game 4 propelled the Red Sox to victory, sweeping the Cardinals and winning its first title in 86 years.

Brett Keisel: With a beard that could earn him a role in The Hangover 3, Keisel may have the most profound facial hair on this list.

Keisel must have a very warm face.

Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ failure to make the playoffs in 2009, Keisel began growing what he dubbed “Da Beard,” hoping to improve his team’s fortunes. It clearly worked, as the Steelers made it all the way to the Super Bowl the next season, eventually losing to the Packers.

Keisel’s beard has its own website and raised over $40,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC when it was cut off at the “Shear The Beard” ceremony, making it the most philanthropic sporting beard of all time.

Rollie Fingers: The most famous moustache in sporting history has proved itself as lucky as its lower lip counterparts on this list. Fingers is a 7-time All-Star, 3-time World Series Champion, winner of the 1981 AL MVP and AL Cy Young Award, the 1974 World Series MVP, and only the second relief pitcher to make the Hall of Fame.

Just look at the curl on that thing!

The other end of the spectrum holds true as well. Players with pathetic fuzz have received some poor luck in the playoffs.

Adam Morrison: Sporting perhaps the worst moustache in the history of mankind, Morrison has felt the consequences of his poor life decision to grow it.

Cute

Gonzaga’s memorable late game collapse at the end of the 2006 Sweet Sixteen led to Morrison crying on national television and a virtually nonexistent NBA career for the NCAA’s leading scorer.

Joe Flacco: I have no idea how Flacco decided a handlebar moustache would be a good choice, but the experiment did not end well for the Ravens’ quarterback.

Flacco realized the error in his ways after his loss to the Patriots.

Thought by many to be frontrunners for the Superbowl, Baltimore missed a field goal at the end of their AFC Championship Game against the Patriots that would have sent the game to overtime. Flacco quickly shaved the stache off after the game, but its damage was done. After the season, Flacco further hurt his karma by calling himself the NFL’s best quarterback. “I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’m top-five, I think I’m the best,” Flacco said. Clearly he hasn’t learned his lesson.

With the long history of outstanding facial hair being accompanied by outstanding success, it will be interesting to see if James Harden and the Thunder can continue the trend.

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Down 2-1, Celtics Still Have Upper Hand on Heat

Quietly the murmurs stirred from Boston. Contrary to what many believed, the Boston Celtics wanted to play the Miami Heat.

Not just in Game 1, or Game 2, or even in Game 3, but from the get go. When the seeding for the NBA playoffs became official, the Celtics seemed determined to have another showdown with the Heat.

The bitterness of being dismantled by Miami in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals, 4-1, never quite left their taste buds.

When last season’s MVP, Derrick Rose, went down for the Chicago Bulls in their first playoff game, the road to Miami became more reality than fantasy.

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Chris Bosh, the routinely overshadowed member of the Big Three, has been sorely missed by Miami

The chips continued to play in the Celtics’ favor as the Philadelphia 76ers advanced, ensuring Boston would have home court advantage again.

Then the biggest chip of all fell their way: Chris Bosh, Miami’s only consistent offensive big man, got injured. He hasn’t returned to the court in over two weeks, and will miss game four, if not more games.

Boston, though down 2-1 in the series, has Miami right where they want them.

Rajon Rondo has developed his game beyond being just a playmaker. He has become the scorer the Celtics have needed, averaging 27 points per game in the series.

At age 36, a rejuvenated Kevin Garnett is playing his best basketball since his days in Minnesota. He is tied for the most double-doubles in the playoffs, with who else but Rondo.

Miami has no answer for these two superstars.

When James switches to guard Rondo, it leaves an undersized Miami team vulnerable to offensive rebounds and Garnett more room to operate.

Even with James helping in the paint, no one on Miami beside Bosh has the length to stop Garnett’s tear.

Yet Garnett is chipping in much more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in the playoffs for Boston.

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Some people dissapprove of Kevin Garnett’s “bully-like” demeanor on the court, but it’s just what his team needs to beat Miami

His renewed grit and toughness are the motor behind the Celtics’ playoff run. His desire to bully his opponents on the court, gives Boston the confidence and swagger it needs to beat Miami.

Thru three games so far, the Celtics have never acted like underdogs. Neither have they acknowledged it. They have gone nose to nose with the Heat.

At the end of game 2, Rondo was seen jeering at Lebron James as he defended the three-time MVP on his attempted game winning shot as regulation ended.

James missed. Even though he shook Rondo on defense to get the open look, he couldn’t shake him out of his head.

Though Boston lost that game, and are down 2-1 in the series, they know they could just as easily be up 2-1. The Celtics took game three behind ‘desperation basketball’ but they won’t need that heading into game four tomorrow.

Instead they’ll be playing their typical ‘bully basketball.’

Boston knows they have their superstars, in Rondo and Garnett, clicking at the right time. They know they have their raucous home crowd behind them.

Even more, they know all the chips are on their side of the table, and it’s their turn to roll the dice.

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