Why Are So Many Basketball Players Bald?

Many people think that men with short or shaved heads look more rugged and manly than those who grow their hair long.

But there’s a reason for this phenomenon.

It has everything to do with how we perceive our own physical appearance.

Our preferences dictate what kind of hairstyle is right for us — not fashion magazines!

Basketball stars like Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash all wear their hair shorter than most guys because it gives off the “macho” image they want.

And although some say that having your head shaved can give you an edge on the court by making your opponents miss shots, others argue otherwise.

In fact, several studies show that shaving one’s head does nothing to improve performance in sports like baseball, football and soccer.

So, if shaving your head doesn’t help you in any way, then why would anyone choose to shave his or her head?

There are actually several valid reasons why so many professional basketball players prefer to be bare-headed.

Here’s the quick summary of it all…

Many basketball players are bald headed because of factors such as their fairly advanced age and genetic predisposition to losing their hair. Once the follicles start falling off, players like to conceal the fact that they’re losing their hair by shaving it all off and sporting the bald look.

Reasons why a lot of basketball players are bald

Let’s now dive into the reasons why some of today’s superstars might rock a buzz cut instead of flowing locks.

1. Genetic predisposition which leaves them prone to balding

why so many basketball players are bald - genetic predisposition

The first thing to consider when determining why NBA stars sport a closely shaven dome is genetics.

It’s easy to assume that we’re genetically predisposed to always maintain a full head of hair.

However, doctors believe that genes play a role in deciding whether someone will develop thinning hair later in life.

This means that a basketball player’s family history may bring about hair loss, due to the hereditary nature of male- and female-pattern baldness that comes with aging.

If you have a parent who lost significant amounts of hair as they grew older, then there are chances that the same process could happen to you as you mature.

This is why some basketball players simply decide to cut all their hair off when the first signs of hair loss arise.

Some research also shows that certain types of hair follicles are susceptible to aging faster than others.

And on top of that, different ethnicities naturally have varying rates of hair loss over time.

For example, African Americans tend to lose fewer strands each day than white males.

2. Personal preference to be bare-headed

why so many basketball players are bald - personal preference

There are plenty of other reasons why professional basketballers opt to keep their scalps uncluttered.

One of these motivations boils down to personal choice and aesthetics.

Sometimes, a player may simply prefer to look and feel a certain way.

The bald look does suit certain people, and basketball players may feel that choosing to cut their hair off will make them more desirable and appealing, or even just more comfortable.

Bald men are actually seen as more intelligent and, according to this study, those with clean-shaved heads are viewed as more dominant than those with partial or full heads of hair.

Perception plays an important role in a basketball player’s life, as they’re athletes who receive a lot of press and media coverage about their performance and some of the things that they do outside of the sport, such as how they carry themselves and their outward appearance.

3. Aging process which may result in hair loss

They say father time is inescapable.

We are all going to grow old, in fact as you read through this article you are aging by the second!

As basketball athletes tack on more years to their lives, the aging process may begin to have an effect on their appearance.

You may begin to see players with the tell-tale signs of aging, such as:

When people start to take notice of this, some basketball players may resort to shaving their head clean as they try to avoid the press coverage that could come out if people knew that the player in question was beginning to lose his hair.

So, for some players, being bald is simply the end-result of coming to terms with the fact that they’re growing old and not being as young and spritely as they used to be.

4. Heightened cortisol levels from stress of playing

why so many basketball players are bald - stress from heightened cortisol levels

One final component contributing to the increase of bald basketball players includes heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Several studies point toward this culprit, showing increased cortisol production associated with intense exercise.

High intensity training sessions induce greater stress responses than moderate ones.

When cortisol enters the bloodstream, it stimulates conversion of inactive cortisone molecules into active form known as glucocorticoids.

Glucocorticoids are vital for regulating metabolism and immune system activities.

Too much cortisol, however, leads to excess fat storage rather than burning calories.

Since basketball demands constant activity and movement, the body becomes accustomed to handling large quantities of cortisol daily.

And because of all the stress that comes with playing a significant number of games within a calendar year, accompanied with all the travelling time and sleeping away from home, hormonal imbalances take shape and some of these may spike cortisol levels which ultimately contribute to hair loss.

Here’s a quote that backs this up:

“Elevated cortisol levels disrupt the hair cycle and accelerate the resting phase, causing telogen effluvium”

Source – Vegamour Inc

Telogen effluvium is a form of hair loss which is tied to increased stress levels.

It does actually seem counterintuitive that basketball players would experience this problem given their high levels of fitness and competitive nature.

But their bald heads show that they are human after all!

Current bald basketball players

There are a number of basketball players in the NBA that decided to go bald.

Off the top of my head I can think of a few famous examples like Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

In fact, here’s a video which illustrates the best NBA players to ever grace the game who ended up going bald:

But when it comes to recent examples, here are some names of bald basketball players that will certainly interest you:

  • Dwight Howard;
  • Chris Paul;
  • Taj Gibson;
  • Kemba Walker; and
  • Anthony Tucker Jr

Why are bald NBA players so good?

There has to be a secret sauce as to why bald basketball players perform so well on the court, right?

Well, the truth is, there’s no magic to it!

You could argue that bald players are more confident or know what they want and are better at executing certain plays, but there’s no scientific evidence to back these points up.

This blog makes a case that bald players have an aerodynamic advantage, as they have no hair to hold them back as they jump through the air.

Now that does make sense but it’s still only a theory.

Another funny reason is that bald players don’t have to spend unnecessary time with hair care routines like shampooing, conditioning and blow drying which can take time away from training.

Ultimately, it’s purely coincidence that some of the best basketball players are bald, and it’s an interesting phenomenon to say the least.

Final thoughts

This article has highlighted the major reasons why a vast number of basketball players are bald.

Hopefully you’ll have understood what’s been spoken about and furthered your understanding of the game.

If you liked this post, then you should also check out our other articles like:

About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.