Traditional headbands are gross and lame. It’s a minimal loop of terrycloth designed specifically just to keep a disgusting bodily fluid from dripping into your eyes, so honestly it’s a wonder that something so guaranteed to be completely radioactive at the end of games ever gained even a modicum of acceptance as a fashion accessory in the NBA. But thankfully, the next innovation in sweatband technology is here. It’s like a regular headband, but, uh, it’s a lot bigger. It’s technically a hachimaki, but people are calling it the “ninja headband.”
Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen knows what I’m talking about, and so does Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday (as seen in the top photo), who’s maybe become the most enthusiastic adopter of the ninja headband this season.
While the idea likely crossed over from tennis, it’s unclear who exactly to credit for the look in basketball. A form of it does date back to at least 2013, when Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins rocked an oversized sweatband during her team’s Final Four run.
But ninja bands are suddenly becoming more and more widespread this year in the pros, and it’s not hard to see why. These headbands are like built-in comic-book motion lines for some of the best athletes in the world. Check out the way the ninja subtly accents Wesley Matthews’s movement on this pump fake sidestep three-pointer from Sunday. Imagine if the headband just stayed still on this shot, while tightly clinging to his skull. Boring.
And how much worse would this beautiful photo of Montrezl Harrell be if the headband tail wasn’t coming down with him? A lot worse, is the answer.
Also noteworthy about these headbands is that they are refreshingly free from brand logos, which definitely won’t last but can be enjoyed for the time being. In the meantime, everyone is leaping on this ninja bandwagon, from random bench players like Golden State’s Damion Lee...
...to Jimmy Butler, who despite the near-toxic levels of cheese in his system cannot make this look uncool, especially when it’s blue.
I am sure the ninja headbands are equally repulsive after games as their traditional counterparts (if not moreso), but it doesn’t matter. Give literally everyone in this league a gigantic piece of fabric and don’t let them step on a court until they tie it around their foreheads.