When you think fashion in the NBA you probably think of long shorts, throwback jerseys, sneakers and the occasional pair of glasses that resemble something that came from the Steve Urkel collection. (Sorry, I won’t name names. SportsCenter does that for me.)
If fans ever talk about players based on what they wear it’s usually about their headbands or their new signature kicks. Rarely do they notice a player’s socks. In the mid 90s Suns fans were the exception. They took note of guard Elliot Perry’s knee-high tube socks. The long white hosiery with the embroidered blue and red NBA logo swallowed his leg from toe to calf like a cotton python. The unique look earned him the simple, yet appropriate, nickname, ‘Socks’.
A decade and a half later, the moniker applied to another guard who calls the US Airways Center home, although, it’s not for his choice of in game stockings.
It is Michael Redd’s choice of socks off the court that could make him Socks 2.0.
The look is something most fans would never know about Redd. It is a colorful secret that only his teammates and the few people who get the chance to stop in the Suns locker room after a game would notice, that is, if they were looking.
The first time I noticed the unique choice of postgame style was following Redd’s second game with the team back in January. As most members of the media crowded around other players to get their 30 second sound bites, something brighter than a Katy Perry music video caught my eye. Something that could be best described as a fabric resembling purple and orange reptile skin.
As Redd sat in the black mesh-backed chair hunched over and exhausted after a hard fought game, his socks stood out on the otherwise colorless carpet. They were interesting but I figured they would be a one time occurrence. Over the coming weeks that thought was proven wrong.
Redd’s feet resembled the color palate of a Tim Burton movie. They were a mixture of bright and dark hues and shapes that come together in the most unique of ways. Intense circles, diamonds and designs that look like they belong on a canvas rather than a foot.
Was there a reason for the socks? Was Redd some collector of unique hosiery? Did he secretly want to take Perry’s Suns legacy to the next level?
I decided to go directly to the source and ask Redd, the reasoning turned out to be much simpler than my imagination had conjured up.
“No, not necessarily. I just love style,” Redd said laughing when asked if there was a story behind his socks. “Wearing colorful socks are in right now. I’m into style and that’s why I wear them.”
While it was a bit disappointing that the explanation wasn’t quite as colorful as the socks themselves, I wasn’t the only one who took notice of Redd’s unique sense of style.
While in Los Angeles last month for a Suns-Lakers game I found myself on an elevator in the team hotel with Redd, Josh Childress and two men in their sixties who, let’s just say, seemed to have enjoyed themselves back in the 70s.
When I entered the elevator I noticed the two men staring at Redd’s feet. This time it wasn’t his socks that were the center of attention. Instead it was his shoes. They could be best described as the Hellraiser of footwear. Matte-black shoes with silver spikes all over them.
The two strangers liked them so much they offered the Suns’ guard $700 for them. Instead of turning the hotel elevator into a DSW, Redd politely declined the offer.
It was one of the odder things I’ve witnessed. When asked about it, Redd agreed.
“It was odd. I’m honored by that,” he said. “It shows they had a respect for what I was wearing. That’s what I do. I love style.”
When fans think of NBA style they rarely, if ever, get past jerseys, shorts and sneakers. Michael Redd might change that. As he said, he loves style, and that’s why he just might be ‘Socks’ to a new generation of Suns fans, for what he wears off the court.
What is the best nickname in team history?
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