In recent weeks, Suns forward-center Brian Skinner has attracted almost as much attention for his stellar defense and timely offense as he has for his distinctive two-tone goatee.

 

Who has the best facial hair?
(Daniel Banks/Suns Photos)

Glue-on Skinner beards have popped up in the stands at US Airways Arena (generally attached to someone, not so much just showing up on their own), reminding fans of the Rambis Youth years, when Suns faithful would turn out in thick-framed spectacles in honor of Kurt Rambis.

Hopefully, in the weeks to come, cheers for B. Skinner’s jumpers and rebounds will prove louder than chatter about his whiskers.

But not too long ago, I happened to visit the Suns, spend a little time with the man, and compare notes on our facial hairiness.

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Before I get to the transcript of that encounter, however, let’s take a look back at some great moments in NBA mustache-and-bearded-ness with these trend-setting styles:

 


THE VAN DUNK
As worn by hoops legend Wilt Chamberlain, this menacing mustache-beard combo told opponents, “I can score 100 points on you anytime I want. And then maybe I’ll score with every woman you know.”


THE SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN
This look, modeled by former ABA and NBA great Artis Gilmore, says, “I may look genteel and refined, but I’m perfectly willing to ram this basketball up your left nostril without saying, ‘Excuse me.’”


THE UPPER LIP OF AUTHORITY
Thinking thirty years ahead, Suns Coach Mike D’Antoni sported this neatly-trimmed ‘stache, which tells players, “Make fun of me all you like…One day, I’ll be Coach of the Year.”


THE “WHAT THE — ?!”
As modeled by former Nets guard Mike Newlin, this, uh…unique…style says either, “I’ve forgotten to shave for the last seventeen years,” “I am Bigfoot’s nephew,” or, “I’m covering scars from a nasty knife fight,” we’re not sure which.

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On to more contemporary modes, which brings me to my conversation with Brian Skinner. I’ll set the scene: I approach Skinner after practice, moments before the Suns are to leave on a road trip. He’s due on the bus. But, good guy that he is, he makes time to talk fashion. I introduce myself as a Suns.com blogger, eager to get his opinion on my own Van Dyke (that’s what they call the beard/mustache-no sideburns thing). Our exchange goes something like this:
BRIAN SKINNER: It looks like it’s coming in pretty good. How long have you been growing it?

ADAM BEECHEN: Well…fourteen years.

BS: Oh. Uh…It’s definitely getting there.

AB: Based on your experience with just having the goatee, would you recommend I shave the mustache and just go with the chin-fuzz?

BS: Well, that all depends on the shape of your face…

AB: Uh huh, and with the shape of my face, what would you suggest?

BS: A ski mask. Just kidding! I think you’ve made the right choice with the Van Dyke.

AB: Okay, here’s one thing I’ve really been wondering. How do you get the beard to grow half black, half orange?

BS: Excuse me?

AB: I mean, I thought maybe it was diet-related, so I’ve been eating a lot of orange foods, like peaches, carrots, the boxed macaroni and cheese flavoring powder…Um, what else…?

BS: …Oranges?

AB: Oranges! Why didn’t I think of that? Let me write that down…

BS: I really have to be catching the team bus to the airport…

AB: Right, right…One more question: What does it take to have truly NBA-worthy facial hair?

BS: A chin on a head at the top of a 6’ 9”, 255-lb. body.

At which point, Mr. Skinner ran for the bus, which I’m told he made by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin.

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