When Paolo Banchero’s name was called as No 1 pick for the Orlando Magic, it came as surprise not only to fans, but the majority of teams in the NBA.
Not because there were doubts of his ability, or that he was not worthy of being chosen ahead of the other two short listed players the Magic were considering, Chet Holmgren (No.2 Thunder) and Jabari Smith Jr., (No.3 Rockets), but because it was a surprise how tight-lipped the Magic were about their intentions.
There were no spoilers, no leaked information from the team. When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called out Paolo Banchero’s name, everyone in the basketball world found out together.
What they also saw as the 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward rose from his chair and headed to the stage, was a streak of purple covered in specks of glitter.
Banchero’s fashion decision for his entrance into the NBA that night in June was thrilling.
For Magic fans, the questions began to swirl. Could the team’s next Shaquille O’Neal or Dwight Howard be wearing a suit you would expect from the late pop icon Prince?
Could this 19-year-old, blinged out with a P5 chain around his neck, be the awaited rebuild piece that would tip the team deep into the W-column and back into the playoff picture?
Magic fans are understandably pessimistic, but during the preseason and practices, glimmers of what Paolo Banchero can do, and the potential he has have certainly surfaced.
Only time will tell.
In the meantime, let’s get back to that draft night suit.
Banchero said his choice to go with purple was because it is his favorite color. Even though he went to Duke, the purple was a nod to his parents and the University of Washington, where they both attended college.
When asked if the rhinestones attached to his suit were real diamonds Banchero said, “No, that would have broke my pockets.”
The sparkle definitely made a statement, and chances are his pockets are beginning to fill up quickly since his draft night.
Just this week, Paolo Banchero signed a multi-year shoe deal with Jordan Brand, and he looks to be the brand’s headliner of the Air Jordan 37. That seems like a ringing endorsement for his fashion sense, and hopefully his play for the Magic.
While some here at the Orlando Sentinel were impressed with Paolo’s fashion forward draft night fit, what about the rest of the team?
Well, we asked them. What did you all think of Paolo’s suit?
However, given that basketball is a team sport, and scrutiny and praise should be shared as a team, we decided to dig up the rest of the Magic players in their draft night suits, and had them judge one another as well.
The result is a healthy dose of praise and smack talk in the form of roasting that you would expect from your closest friends and teammates.
Some spoilers to note from our Draft Suit Challenge video we put together and attached above are:
Markelle Fultz, also an overall No1 pick in the NBA back in 2017, walked into the league wearing a pair of custom shoes made out of basketballs. That decision did not bounce well with his teammate Mo Bamba.
In 2018 Wendell Carter chose a draft night suit that was inspired by Marvel’s Black Panther and he looked like a Gucci superhero. So did Bol Bol, who easily could do a team-up with Carter playing the part of Spider Man in his suit created by rapper Young Thug’s clothing brand, SPIDER, back in 2019.
Some of the biggest surprises came from Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton. Both were drafted during the 2020 Covid year and were selected while they were at home.
You would think that the world sheltering in place would come with some understanding, and allow them to escape criticism from fellow players. Nope, not a chance.
Hampton’s unique draft-day-drip turtleneck came at a cost. Terrence Ross claims he would have been better off choosing to wear a pair sweats while relaxing at home.
And Cole Anthony’s choice to wear a t-shirt, headphones and what appears to be a robe, left plenty of question marks from his fellow teammates’ discerning eyes, even though he claims it to be Dolce & Gabbana.
Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley summed it up best when asked about the importance of draft night suits. “For the guys, it’s a chance to show the world who they are and their identity…and how they are going to be remembered on the big stage.”
Looking forward to the Magic’s upcoming season, the hope for fans is that Paolo looks just as sharp in Magic pinstripes as he does in purple and rhinestones. Sure, he made a splash on the draft night stage that will be remembered, but the ultimate goal is that when the word “fly” is said next to his name, it is not in reference to his fashion choices, but because it describes his approach to the hoop.
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