LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 25: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against Luol Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls during the game at Staples Center on December 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Some convenient timing to a fairly slow week (in a good way: Bulls are getting healthy!), SBNationNBA is running a fun sponsored campaign that aims to bring to light top grooming moments in NBA history. This may be one setting where we still feel bad that the Bulls traded James Johnson, as RaptorsHQ gets to draw from that well.
Not that the Bulls are bereft of candidates. The weirdest choice (usually the one I go for) could've been whatever the heck's been going on with Carlos Boozer this season. But Mark Deeks at The Basketball Jones already knocked that out of the park. Joakim Noah has an established history of questionable (or GREAT??) hair grooming, currently being the only player in the league sporting a bun on his head.
But I'm going to go with a grooming moment in Bulls history that was gone far too soon: Luol Deng's mohawk.
Granted, this is far from the most edgy or outlandish style choice we've seen in the league, but I think what made it special is the person it adorned. Not only had Deng kept his hair very closely-cropped during his previous 7 seasons as a Bull, in general he's seemingly a very reserve person.
So news of this major (for him) change was percolating in preseason.
The 26-year-old said he is looking forward to being around his teammates again, but he was concerned they might give him a hard time for the mini Mohawk he's sporting.
Luol's fears came to be right away in training camp:
“I’m not getting a Mohawk,” teammate Derrick Rose said. “I was surprised Lu got it. I’m surprised he came in here and let you all see him with that Mohawk. I guess everyone’s got new hairstyles. Carlos (Boozer) has got hair (instead of a shaved head).”
(I had to keep in that Boozer bit, ha)
The 'Lu-Hawk', as it was affectionately called by up to 4 or 5 people, had its coming out party in he season-opening victory against the Lakers, at which this accompanying rare photo was taken. Naturally, Luol did his thing in guarding the other team's best perimeter player. But all anyone (or at least, one person) wanted to talk about was the hair.
Deng laughed off a question about seeming tougher this season, saying, "I don't think it's the hair." That's in reference to the half-Mohawk he's sporting.
Sadly...the new, awesome, look would only last a week.
Merely minutes before the Bulls home opener, where Deng was to address the crowd as team captain, news broke that Deng had shaved his head.
I'm convinced to this day that noted headband-denouncer and ruiner of good times John Paxson forced this upon Deng, though I have no evidence nor especially any desire to find any. My theory was that the look was probably just too raw, too real, too...much for the Deerfield dentists that populate the lower bowl of the United Center. And especially as the Bulls ambassador to their fans, Deng had to sacrifice the mohawk to keep the sense of accessibility and humility that he's earned in his career.
And given the time and craft it must've taken for Luol Deng to grow it, we may never see it again. But we can carry on its legend. To the Lu-Hawk!