The summery, lamb phase of the spring has arrived. Brunch will be served at outdoor tables. Someone will actually buy a Bartles and Jaymes beverage. Tops will come off convertibles and spray-tanned meatheads. And I will begin wearing jerseys, Champion replica NBA jerseys and Starter replica NCAA jerseys, mainly those of obscure players, like Kerry Kittles, and teams, like the Nets, who I care nothing about, because I dress like a hoopster.
Deadspin began cataloguing the emergence of this cultural fashion movement two years ago when it ran pictures under the tag “Look At This Fucking Hoopster.” After Lollapalooza, they featured a photo gallery of many a hipster rocking a jersey. The New York Times then ran one of their Style-section trend stories about hoopsters, which prompted Deadspin to announce that the trend was over.
For me, it was never over and still isn’t. I may dress like one, but I’m not a hoopster. I’m original. I didn’t just wear the jerseys, I wore them with my yellow Guatemalan shorts or nylon warmup pants, sometimes with a head band, and I have the clear-cut, non-sepia-tinged random tight pic from a 2006 night out to prove it. And yes, that is a Clippers warm-up jersey atop the St. John’s jersey.
So hipsters, while you’re listening to your Fleet Foxes album on a phonograph because you don’t believe music is music without the bumping and hissing of a needle, and you’re taking off that V-neck cardigan to reveal a golden Vlade Divac Lakers jersey underneath remember this…
While looking significantly cooler in an even more obscure jersey, I could tell you that Divac smoked a pack of cigarettes each day when he played, giving you useful information so that you might actually be able to translate the cool jersey you’re wearing into a conversation topic that would make someone actually tolerate listening to you.*
*Hat tip to Dads Are the Original Hipsters for prompting the style for that run of paragraphs.
When you start college, you start picking up new, strange habits. I think it’s something about the freedom from home and the constant stench of marijuana that lingers in the air.
For a lot of people this new habit is drinking. That is why kegs exist. For a lot of people this new habit is “fratting.” That is why boat shoes exist. Others start playing guitar, start walking on those tight-rope things between trees, start drinking scotch, start “discovering” Led Zeppelin and Dave Matthews, start playing unhealthy amounts of Mario Kart.
My new habit was a little off-kilter. I started buying a ridiculous amount of jerseys off EBay. A friend piqued my fascination with the online jersey earlier that summer when he discussed the possibility of buying them off the site.
Those words were like opium-flavored cake to my ears, if such a dessert existed and could be converted into soundwaves. I owned three jerseys at this time: an Allen Iverson Georgetown No. 3, a Kenny Gregory Kansas No. 20 and a Chauncey Billups Celtics No. 4. The rest of my collection had become casualties to growing up or my mom giving clothes to charity (so SELFISH!).
EBay offered the opportunity to reinvigorate my wardrobe, to make me the COOLEST person ever, and college catalyzed the habit. When I needed a break from studying, I’d flip over to EBay and scroll for copious amounts of time while listening to Talib Kweli really loudly in my dorm room. I found a LeBron James SVSM jersey, an Omar Cook St. John’s jersey, a Rasheed Wallace Bullets jersey, a Muggsy Bogues Hornets jersey, a Charles O’Bannon UCLA jersey, a Kerry Kittles Nets jersey, a Mookie Blaylock Hawks jersey, and those were just the jerseys I was lucky enough to win. I lost out on countless greats, like a Todd Day of the Bucks, Jamal Mashburn of the Mavericks and Dan Majerle of the Suns.
I remember going a month without spending any money on food, outside of my pre-paid meal plan. I couldn’t go that long without a jersey. I bought them and wore them regularly. When I wore that Cook jersey and a pair of matching St. John’s shorts for Halloween freshman year, a friend of mine didn’t understand my costume choice: “That’s what you wear every day,” he said.
As a college graduate, yuppie, and de facto member of the real world, I still have an opportunity to wear these jerseys because of the pool and concerts. At Austin City Limits, a stranger took a picture of my Muggsy jersey to show his girlfriend. I went to a Rhymin’ and Stealin’ concert last year (they cover the Beastie Boys), wearing the Kittles jersey, and the lead rapper gave me a shout out on the mic for wearing it.
Last summer, pool season in full swing, two guys complimented me on the Rasheed Wallace jersey I was wearing. Then they started talking about Deadspin and hoopsters. I cut them off as soon as I could. I tried telling them the story about EBay and freshman year and Divac’s smoking habit, and their eyes glazed.
I realized what I was doing, what I am doing now with this blog post. I was claiming to be the first. There is nothing more hipster, or hoopster, than lashing out at hipsters, or hoopsters, and saying that you did something before they did, that they stole your idea and ruined it.
So yikes. I am a fucking hoopster.