Jake's Take: 10/8/10

October, 8, 2010
Jake LeRoy [@JakesTake34]

The Power of the Beard

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  • There are some -- OK, many -- aspects of life that I just can't explain. One of the many is my unusual, and potentially unhealthy, obsession with facial hair. The theory I'm most prone to subscribe to is that it took me so long to grow a single facial hair that when I did, it immediately vaulted that day into my all-time Top 5. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I'm almost positive that day leapfrogged the Christmas when I joyously unwrapped Castle Grayskull. Both great days, but I only had to wait seven years for the mythical fortress that Skeletor so desperately desired. I had to wait more than 18 for that elusive first facial hair.

    It's because of this obsession that the recent non-guaranteed resigning of Brian Skinner gave me a jolt of excitement. Skinner combines with John Salmons and Drew Gooden (circa 2008) to give the Bucks quite possibly the greatest trio of goatees in the history of the NBA. I submit there has never been a single squad that can boast three goatees, both past and present, better than the 2010-11 edition of the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Skinner, Salmons and Gooden are not alone, though. They come from a long and impressive lineage of former Bucks who have transformed the facial hair game. Revolutionaries like Brian Winters, Jim Eakins and Cornell Warner have blazed a trail for modern-day Bucks who are trying to do the same for the next generation of players.

    The extensive account of facial hair throughout the history of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise has inspired me to put together a roster entitled the All Facial Hair Team. This roster will consist of only the best and bushiest beards, goatees and mustaches in team history. Do you know who will never have a spot on this roster? B.J. Armstrong. Why? No. 1, Armstrong was never a Buck. No. 2, he seems physically incapable of growing facial hair.

    Guards
    John Lucas - Lucas had a solid two-year stint in Milwaukee during the mid 1980s, distributing the ball and turning heads with his thick `stache. He had arguably his best season in Milwaukee, averaging a career-best 17.5 points and 6.7 assists per game during the 1986-87. Most importantly, he boasted one of the best upper-lip caterpillars in the league.

    Oscar Robertson - The Big O is widely known as the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double throughout an entire season. What is less known is that it was actually a quadruple-double, with Robertson averaging at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, as well as a perfect 10.0 in sideburn awesomeness.

    John Salmons - Salmons' substantial goatee is made for heavy lifting. I'd be willing to wager that Salmons puts a couple of 20-pound weights at each end of the bar each day and does work with a couple sets of curls.

    Norm Van Lier - Cincinnati and Chicago were the fortunate two cities to enjoy Van Lier's beard for an extended period of time. The city of Milwaukee was bestowed the honor of sending Van Lier and his facial hair out in style, though. Van Lier concluded his decade-long career with just 2.8 points and 4.2 assists per game, but he brought great joy to facial hair enthusiasts throughout Milwaukee.

    Brian Winters - Winters, one of just seven Bucks to have their number retired, should probably have his beard retired in the fictional NBA Beard Hall of Fame. The thickness, potency and sharpened point of Winters' beard make him an obvious choice for co-captain on this squad. He is eerily reminiscent of a giant, dark-haired garden gnome. Winters pretty much had it all: a 16.2 career point-per-game average and a killer beard. What more could a guy want?

    Forwards
    Bobby Dandridge - Dandridge didn't have the bushiest of facial hair, but what he lacked in power he more than made up for in innovation. His playing career spanned the 1970s, when big ol' mutton chops and thick mustaches ruled the landscape. Dandridge bucked that trend, though, preferring to bypass those styles in favor of a little chin music. Not only has Dandridge played more minutes in a Bucks uniform than any one else, he also paved the way for many future goatees.

    Jim Eakins - I'd be lying if I said I had heard of Eakins before my research led me to him. But once I stumbled across Eakins' mustache/sideburns combo, I knew I had my second co-captain. Eakins had his best playing years for the Virginia Squires of the CBA, but there's no doubt he left his mark on the NBA with this top notch facial hair effort.

    Bob Lanier - Like Van Lier, the Bucks brought Lanier in toward the tail-end of his playing career. While his numbers may have tailed off slightly once he arrived in Milwaukee, Lanier continued to bring the bearded thunder to the arena. Lanier joins three other former Bucks on this list who have had their numbers retired in Milwaukee, suggesting that a good beard could be the driving force behind individual success. Just something to think about.

    Cornell Warner - Warner spent just two nondescript seasons in Milwaukee, but in that time, he was able to do what no other Buck has ever done. He managed to pull off the rarely seen facial-hair quadfecta, showcasing the mutton chops, lip toupee, goatee and flavor-saver, while keeping each style completely disconnected from the other. That's an accomplishment not easily achieved.

    Brian Skinner - The evolution of Skinner's goatee is a wild adventure in and of itself. Skinner entered the league with a modest, finely-groomed, goatee. A few years passed and that goatee thickened and moved its way south. Skinner's goatee continued to morph through the years until it reached its current state, which can be seen here. What a wild ride it has been.

    Centers
    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Kareem boasted a monumentally glorious set of sideburns during his early years in the league. Fortunately for the city of Milwaukee, we were able to enjoy those chops for a majority of their stay on Kareem's cheeks. They didn't survive very long when Hollywood came a-calling, depriving many of their magnificence. The all-time points leader in NBA history is a nice title and all, but those sideburns deserve their day in the spotlight as well.

    Andrew Bogut - Bogut is the lone owner of the chin strap on this list, sporting this look for much of his NBA career. His chin strap isn't like the typical pencil-thin chin strap that gained popularity in recent years, though. Bogut's is one with some weight. If Bogut's chin strap was an actual chin strap, it would be called upon to keep Braylon Edwards' helmet in place, at least up until last week.

    And there's your 12-man roster. Personally, I think it strikes a fine balance between on-court greatness and on-face excellence. This is a roster to behold, both in action and in the team picture.

    As for me, I'm sticking with the stubble for the foreseeable future. I just don't have the courage to try anything more daring at this point. But come retirement some 35 years from now, I'd be disappointed if I wasn't headlining the World Beard & Mustache Championships. Winning that title would surely trump Castle Grayskull.

    Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.