There’s ice in his veins, a new title to his name, and swag seemingly all around him. For D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets restricted free agent and the winner of GQ’s NBA Style Showdown competition, the secret to his success is not taking it all too seriously, letting it all come to him. His most grail-level items—like a pair of A Bathing Ape shorts—may go from just lying around to super-fashionable midnight workout gear. A picture of a random tennis player on his Instagram Explore page might spark the inspiration for his next look. His dogs, even, wear Supreme-branded collars.
Like his on-court play, Russell describes his style as “unpredictable,” equal parts flashy and conservative. One minute he’s crossing a defender over and making a shot so high-arcing it would beat one of those inflatable tube dancers, the next he’s hitting his man on the break with a crispy bounce pass. His style is the same way: one day it’s the lunch pail equivalent of get-to-work sweatsuits then head-to-toe Human Made the next.
It’s been a breakthrough year for Russell both on and off the court. He took the Nets to the playoffs, made the All-Star team in the process, and after being left out of last year’s GQ NBA Style Showdown, he cruised through this year’s competition. Russell methodically picked off heavy hitters like James Harden and Kelly Oubre, Jr. en route to dethroning the King and last year’s winner, LeBron James. So we called him up to ask him how he’s feeling about it.
GQ: Wow, congrats on your NBA Style Showdown win.
D’Angelo Russell: Man, I appreciate that. That’s just, I’ve never seen that, I looked up and saw that I was competing with a few guys whose style I respect so to win that, that was real cool. It was cool to be involved there. Winning is a cherry on the top.
Were you surprised to take home the win? Are you pretty serious about putting outfits together?
It is definitely something that comes natural, but it caught me off guard, you guys recognizing it, everybody feels like they have their own taste and own flavor to what they do so everybody feels like what they do is the best.
How do you define your style? What’s your method and process?
I completely wing it. I wing my style. I think it’s definitely something on how you feel, the weather, that plays a part. But I just put pieces together and if people from the outside looking in don’t like it, I don’t really keep up with that, I just kind of go with it. And then sometimes I try to clean up, I mix up the classier look and then I’ll go back with a throwback look. You never know. I just try to keep it unpredictable. Be able to touch every lane with it.
The throwbacks looks really stood out. The one that we featured in your matchup in LeBron was the one with the baggy Yankees jersey. Is that a style you’re really into?
Yeah, I think it’s all about your own feel. You got guys that go a different route with it, they may go straight name-brand—all the louder brands and stuff like that. I put outfits together from people trying to expand their clothing line. Guys reaching out to me, “Yo, could you wear my shirt? My shorts?” With their logo or whatever it is. And I put my own little swag to it. And I think that just keeps people on their toes because they never—it’s not like you could find those pieces—they’re limited. And that’s just me kind of doing a favor to respect people’s creativity.