5 Awesome Ways the NBA Showed Us How to Troll With Custom Apparel
October 25, 2019
Pro basketball is back in action again, but the league never really sleeps. Die-hard fans know the NBA is as much about what happens off the court as on it.
A big part of that has to do with how the players dress. Many of them take every opportunity to show off their unique style (hey there, James Harden and Jimmy Butler).
But sometimes what they wear has to do with getting an edge. Whether it’s to get in the head of the opponent or to clap back at the haters, NBA players love to use custom apparel to make a statement.
As such, we’ve collected five memorable designs from seasons past to serve as inspiration for the next time you want to clown on your friends, trash talk your rivals, or silence your critics.
1. Richard Jefferson’s Flat World Champions Shirt
2017 feels like such a long time ago. The Cleveland Cavaliers were in their title defense season, with their fearsome triumvirate of Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love.
It was also the year we got our first taste of Irving’s penchant for conspiracy theories. He went on teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye’s podcast and let the world know, among other things, that he thought the earth was flat.
The internet had a field day with that, of course. Everyone from his teammates to Neil Degrasse Tyson had something to say about it.
But the award for best response to this cosmic brain take on astrophysics has to go to Jefferson. A week or so after his interview with Irving went viral, photos of Jefferson wearing a shirt that said: “Flat World Champions” surfaced.
The question remains: was RJ trying to troll everyone who made a big deal out of this? Or was he trolling Kyrie, who eventually walked back his flat earth stance, and later apologized to science teachers for being a bad influence?
And did this hilarious shirt have anything to do with Irving demanding a trade the following offseason? I have a conspiracy theory of my own on that one.
2. Draymond Green’s Quickie Shirt
Speaking of the 2017 offseason, who could forget this incredible shirt worn by certified basketball genius and troll extraordinaire Draymond Green?
Green donned this shirt after his Warriors made quick work of the Cavs in the 2017 NBA Finals, winning the final game on the road at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.
Green and James are good friends off the court, which actually makes this troll job even better. Beating your friend on his home court is one thing. Twisting the arena’s branding into a shirt design to rub it in his face? That is a whole other level of petty.
Plus, you know he had to get back at LeBron for the “Ultimate Warrior” shirt.
3. Russell Westbrook’s Official Photographer Vest
If we’re talking petty, though, we can’t skip over Russell Westbrook. Yes, the man averaged a triple-double and won the Most Valuable Player award the season after fellow superstar Kevin Durant skipped town. But he made sure to poke at Durant almost every step of the way.
Westbrook’s pettiest moment had to come in the run-up to his Oklahoma City Thunder’s meeting with Durant’s Warriors.
Follow me on this: photography is one of Durant’s hobbies. He even got press credentials to shoot photos at Super Bowl 50. Super Bowl 50 took place in the Bay Area, where the Warriors play. Durant was on the Thunder with Westbrook at the time.
Fast forward a few months– Durant is now on the Warriors, and Westbrook shows up to the Thunder’s matchup with them looking like this:
Did he think the Warriors somehow got Durant press credentials to woo him to join them in free agency? Does he think photography is corny (spoiler: it isn’t)? Or did he just want to try and weird Durant out? The world may never know.
You do you, Russell Westbrook. Even if that means being petty to the point where no one understands what you’re doing.
4. Kevin Durant’s Cupcake Hat
We can’t talk about KD and trolling without mentioning the cupcake motif. His move to the Warriors was derided by many non-Golden State fans, who thought it boiled down to a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” As we mentioned before, Westbrook thought it was a soft move, too, going so far as to post a cryptic picture of a cupcake on the day Durant announced he was leaving the Thunder.
But if you’re Durant, you’re in the business of winning, and you’d want to go to the team that gives you the best chance to do just that. And win he did, with the season culminating in a championship and a Finals MVP award.
What better time than that to twist the meaning of the cupcake on its head?
Durant ordered a hat embroidered with a cupcake with a ring on top, and we made it for him. Then he wore it to shade everyone who thought he was taking the easy way out.
Okay, so it’s not a shirt. Oh wait.
That’s right, Durant’s teammates Steph Curry and Draymond Green got in on the trolling action earlier in the season with cupcake shirts of their own because teamwork is the best way to throw it back in the haters’ faces.
5. Anthony Davis’ “That’s All Folks!” shirt
If you’re a New Orleans Pelicans fan, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief. This season, you have the hope of human highlight reel Zion Williamson to go with a supporting cast of promising players and proven veterans. But best of all, your team has moved out from under the specter of Anthony Davis.
Who could forget his refusal to sign a contract extension? The way he tried to get a trade to Los Angeles in the middle of the season? And what about the embarrassing way the team dealt with the situation, holding him out of games to protect his trade value while their front office was a dumpster fire?
None of it made for an enjoyable basketball season on the Bayou.
Now, keep in mind, it’s not like the team around Davis was very good (save for Jrue Holiday). If you’re one of the 10 best players in the world, would sitting out and not competing for a playoff spot (let alone a championship) sound like a good use of your time? How about getting booed by your own fans for wanting out? It couldn’t have been much fun for him, either.
Which is probably why he wore this to the last game of the 2018-19 season:
Davis claimed he didn’t mean anything by the shirt, except that he loves Looney Tunes. We know what it really represents: a kiss-off to a franchise he felt hard done by.
Still, it’s quite a way to burn bridges with a fanbase that once adored you.
There were so many NBA troll jobs to choose from. Which one is your favorite? And which ones also deserved to be on this list? Tell us!
About the Author
Kyle Greco is the resident writer at RushOrderTees, where he blends word nerdery with his love for T-shirts. A graduate of The College of New Jersey, he is interested in exploring the intersection of clothing and culture. In his spare time, he makes music, builds guitars, and cooks with his wife. He enjoys hot dogs, sports, and collecting too many hats.