By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

Forget who went where and when. To many fans, the NBA Draft is the ultimate parade of style hits and misses. For the third year in a row, Page 2 surveys the fashion scene where talent was as top-heavy as it was on the draft board:

David Stern, LeBron James
Only LeBron could pull this off, and wear it after Labor Day if he felt like it.

The players
Big winner: It seems appropriate that the most hyped draftee in the history of the NBA would come up with one of the most stunning outfits in draft-fashion history. Literally blinding in white like some kind of hoops messiah, LeBron James made his mark on the NBA even before his name was called by David Stern.

With everyone else going conservative, LeBron's choice of white -- suit, shirt, tie, everything -- was even more distinctive, almost as dazzling as the rocks in his earlobes (or that diamond dinner plate on his wrist). The fact that he pulled it off so smoothly is a testament to his -- dare we say -- Jordanesque ability (to wear clothes).

Other winners: Absolutely big time in a platinum six-button jacket, light-yellow shirt and plat tie to match the suit, Carmelo Anthony ran runner-up to LeBron sartorially, much like he did in the draft order. One thing he should have known better: The cardinal rule of podium-approach is to button that suit jacket! 'Melo's top button was the only one fastened, making some fashion analysts think that he may have even done it on purpose ...

Dwyane Wade said Wednesday he'd be going conservative, and he backed it up with the classic navy suit/blue shirt/blue tie, with a twist (see "Families" section, below) ...

Other players split between navy/gray suits (always a good choice): Darko, Collison, Sweetney, Hinrich ... good fashion futures, all, though Kirk could use severe hair maintenance; tan suits (so two years ago, but we won't criticize 19-year-old Chris Bosh, who didn't know any better); and pinstripes (a risk, but it worked for Jarvis Hayes and Reece Gaines).

And the highly coveted "Bar Mitzvah Boy" award goes to: TJ Ford, with the combination of his youthful looks and blue pinstriped ensemble.

Losers: If there is fashion "guilt by association," Zarko Cabarkapa was ruined by his translator, who apparently didn't get the memo that tucking the shirt in is not an optional exercise. (A tie would have been nice, too, for the translator's national TV appearance.) Let's leave it with this, about the translator: "Montenegro chic" won't be sweeping SoHo.

The TV crew
Stuart Scott wins the "Jalen Rose Originality Award" for his black pinstripe suit doing everything it could to contain his red shirt/red tie combo ... Michelle Tafoya went "khaki chic" in a tan dress with matching sweater, set off with white French cuffs ... Dickie V worked from home in an appropriately red-blooded American polo shirt (but where were the white and blue accents?) ... David Aldridge kept it solid: blue-tie-on-blue-shirt tucked under a black suit ... Darren Rovell made a late (but memorable) entry, thanks to his bold choice of a light red tie color ... And for the four guys at the desk: Mike Tirico went olive jacket over blue shirt, while his three analysts all went with black suits, with Tom Tolbert taking the furthest fashion leap, going tie-less with a black T, no doubt ready to head straight to the after-party.

The families
The draft fashion show has always been -- and will remain -- about the moms. My mom manages to well up with tears at least once every draft broadcast, seeing how thrilled the draftee moms are for their sons.

Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony congratulates his mom on her fashion sence.

The emotional family moment of the night came from the woman who also came out the biggest parent fashion winner: Mary Anthony (Carmelo's mom), so overwhelmed by her son's fortune that she couldn't speak -- only weeping tears of joy. That didn't stop her from looking fabulous in a pink dress with white lace. Year in and year out, taking a risk with bold color pays off for the moms.

More from the moms: If LeBron's suit was "best in show," does his mom, Gloria, share in that if her own outfit was cut from the same cream Super 140 Italian wool. Well, why not?.

Also setting herself apart was Yvonne Hayes (mother of Jarvis), whose snazzy white and gold jacket covered a simple white top over gray skirt ...

Frieda Bosh defined "conservative chic" with a lovely silver suit.

Leroy Kamen (father of Chris) bucked the suit trend with a gray blazer over blue shirt.

And looking absolutely spectacular was the green room's youngest mom, Siovaughn Wade (wife of Dwyane), in a simple-yet-elegant black cocktail dress, sexy for the occasion but completely tasteful. And someone in the Wade family knows what they are doing with fashion, because toddler Zaire was dressed in a blue-on-blue suit to match his daddy. The draft play of the night!

Front-office fabulous ... or fatal
Are draft offices so casual that team management can trot themselves out on TV in slobby-looking polo shirts? And if you are going to forego a simple button-down shirt, can we end the tyranny of the top-button? (Yes, I'm talking to you, Rick Sund and Danny Ainge!) If you're going to go polo, at least take a lesson from NBA 50 Greatest All-Time Styler Pat Riley, who left a button or two undone.

So thank you, Jerry West, for wearing a suit ... thank you Rod Thorn and Doc Rivers, for wearing nice-looking gray dress shirts ... and thank you, Cavs owner Gordon Gund, for the suit that even included a tie showcasing your team's new maroon and gold color scheme. (Go ahead and slip on that LeBron jersey if you want ... you've earned it.)

And taking the prize for worst outfit: Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown, who -- obviously resting on last draft's kudos on a simple dark suit -- caused my eyes to tear with pain at a Hawaiian shirt with a print that is best described by the fashion-technical term: "looks like ass."

And as for Commissioner Stern, don't think we forgot! Just one question: Was the Cavalier-inspired colors on his tie intentional or just a coincidence? (If he doesn't watch himself, he'll start a new downtown trend: "conspiracy-theory chic!")

The uninvited
One unexpected thrill of the evening was the European invasion, uninvited all, crashing the Garden party like they belonged. They may be overrated, they may not play in the NBA for years, they may have unpronounceable names, but they sure know how to wear a suit (see 2001 draft "Best Dressed" title winner Tony Parker).

Best of the bunch: Barbosa (all Brazilian flair, with the classic navy suit/blue shirt/blue tie combo).

Leandrinho Barbosa
One of the last to shake hands with the commish, Mr. Barbosa did so with style.

More From the Rest: Pavlovic and Planinic (tan suits, oh you tell them apart) ... Delfino (blue suit, wonderfully chosen yellow tie) ... Szewczyk (black suit, black dress shirt) ... Vranes (the 7-4 giant had a huge suit that looked like it was tailored to fit the Statue of Liberty).

Unfortunately, the Sofa (no, you spell it the long way) -- looked like he grabbed a black slipcover and threw it on over a black T-shirt.

Hats off
Were those draft hats made out of leather? Whatever the material, they reflected theater lights like a draft hat shouldn't. Whatever happened to the simple ones from the late '80s, where the hats were a team's primary color, with the city name in small letters and the team names all in the same font style. Nevertheless, here are the top five NBA hats you'll want to keep in your rotation this summer (note inverse correlation to likelihood of on-court success):

5. Lakers
4. Pistons
3. Heat
2. Cavaliers
1. Nuggets

And if you want to go out and get a jump on the hot rookie jerseys, be on the lookout for LeBron's No. 23 Cavs jersey and Carmelo's No. 15 Nuggets jersey (both in nicely redesigned styles), with T.J. Ford's No. 11 Bucks jersey as a sleeper.

All-Style team
Dwyane Wade's wife, Siovaughn
Dwyane Wade's kid, Zaire
Carmelo Anthony's mom, Mary
Carmelo Anthony
LeBron James

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning.




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