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Slick Watts, the man with the headband

The story of how the NBA discovered the band in the head trend

Slick Watts, the man with the headband The story of how the NBA discovered the band in the head trend

When I was going to the high school, the Los Angeles Clippers, the unlucky “C(l)ipp” at the time, just drafted four rookies: Keyon Dooling, Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson and Zendon Hamilton. These were flanked by Lamar Odom, an absolute basketball genius and former NBA champion, unfortunately married to a Kardashian and so a “ruined man” (keep this tough in ming because this kid has an amazing story, and more came literally out of a coma); Jeff McInnis, Corey Maggette and some others. Thing is, as they were super lame at the time, Tele+ didn’t even dream about broadcast their games and so I didn’t know where to watch them. Everytime, thought, they ended up in NBA Action’s Top 10. Things is that at every dunk, triple or highlights, Darius “The Punisher” and Quentin, called Q-Rich, punched their headband on their forehead that was useless, as their hairs were all short. 

Nobody has ever told me what that gesture meant, bit I was already using 56K internet connection and so I discovered the meaning after a dunk by D-Miles on Shawn Bradley, that every time used to bet with ‘Q’ about the number of times he would’ve umiliate him going to the rim. The gesture is called “Headbops”, and the meaning is: “You better pay attention and get your antenna up”. I know, I know… They’re Americans, it’s better not to ask to much. But these two players impressed his royal airness Michael Jordan, that the year before his second comeback ‘branded’ them with his mark and put them is some commercials for the new Nike Jordan XVII, of course with that gesture. More, the two players were from Chicago and so the marriage was just perfect. For me, the gesture was the coolest I’ve ever seen, but I kept wandering why the hell al the Clippers’ player were wearing an headband.

The shoes commercial had as soundtrack one of Keith Elam’s tracks - better known as G.U.R.U. (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) - voice of the legendary Gang Starr hip-hop duo, alongside with DJ Premier. In a commercial with Ray Allen, the slogan was “All Rhythm, No Blues” and here’s were the headband comes from. The first to wear one - filling it up with great meaning - was a basketball ‘Bluesman’ born in Rolling Fork, in Mississippi where all Muddy Waters’ career started. Do you remember last story? The one about “2-0-6, my city”, with Doug Wrenn that bonds Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy? Here, we have to stay in the Ruby City with Sonics Guy in the most beautiful record store in Seattle

You won’t find him on Google by his real name, but if your search for “Slick” followed by Watts, then Wikipedia will answer to you immediately. All-America in very sports at the high school and then the university: first in Grand View (1969-70), and then at Xavier, in Louisiana (1970-73). He was undrafted in the NBA in 1973, taken by the Seattle SuperSonics, at Bill Russell’s court, “because” of his cousin, that used to coach at the college. He immediately wear the headband, because as a kid, playing football, he was hit so hard in the head that he never recovered his hair in that part, and from that time the headband became a part of his style, in and outside the field. 

Seattle was crazy about him, and when he left in 1978, before the franchise won the title, people cried and scream in despair, as if the Beatles were dissolved. Yes, because from 1973 until the day of his trade to the New Orleans Jazz, he became the number one in supporters’ hearts, and the NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA assist leader and NBA steals leader. Everyone used to tremble in front of him, and he fought like hell and seemed like that headband gave him much more energy. If LeBron, Iverson, Terry, Smith, Wallace and all the other wear the headband, the owe it to him.

So, if you are at the playground and you score a basket or something, beat your heads up like D&Q, but do it thinking about Slick Watts, Seattle’s hero.