We’re less than 10 days into the NBA offseason, and NBA fans are already having trouble dealing with all of the changes that teams have decided to make. Between the Celtics and 76ers swapping first-round draft picks, the Cavaliers making LeBron James mad by parting ways with their general manager, and Dwight Howard getting shipped to the Hornets for, like, a pack of peanuts, there has been too much happening over the last week—and we haven’t even reached the 2017 NBA Draft and the NBA free agency period yet! Can you even imagine what’s going to happen once we get to the real action?
There’s one other big change that just took place, and it’s almost too much for most NBA fans to take. Late Tuesday night, a photo of Kawhi Leonard posing after a workout starting making the rounds. And while that in and of itself wouldn’t have been all that interesting under normal circumstances, there was something, er, different about this photo. Take a look at it for yourself:
Did…did…did Leonard cut his hair?! Maybe it’s just the angle that the photo was taken at or something, but it certainly looks like Leonard has parted ways with his signature braids, the ones he’s steadfastly refused to get rid of, even as the rest of the league has moved away from the braided look.
To put this into the proper perspective, it’s been about a decade since Carmelo Anthony cut off his braids. It’s been about eight years since Allen Iverson did it, too. And yet, as recently as just a month ago, Leonard was still taking the court with his braids intact, refusing to follow any trends taking hold in other parts of the league. And SB Nation did a little bit of digging and found that, in all likelihood, Leonard has been rocking braids for about 13 years now, ever since he was in middle school, which is a long time for anyone to run with the same hairstyle.
Anyway, an NBA player getting a haircut normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but Leonard has been one of the only NBA players to rock braids in recent years. He was actually the subject of a really popular Reddit post about it. So once NBA fans saw the latest photo of him circulating on Tuesday night, a lot of them freaked out over the fact that it appears as though his braids are gone. Fans can handle the trades that have taken place in recent days and the fact that LeBron leaving the Cavaliers at some point is starting to look like more and more of a possibility. But Kawhi cutting off his braids? Say it ain’t so:
All these changes are too much to process at once. Can the NBA please slow down and let us catch our collective breath?!