Raptors Stars Fred VanVleet and O.G. Anunoby on Their Game Faces, Grooming Rituals, and the City They Call Home

Read Complex Canada's interview with O.G. Anunoby and Fred Vanvleet of the Toronto Raptors about their game faces, grooming rituals, and the city they call home

og anunoby left and fred vanvleet right

og anunoby left and fred vanvleet right

og anunoby left and fred vanvleet right

As homegrown stars that have played their entire careers in one place, O.G. Anunoby and Fred VanVleet are exceptions to the modern pro-basketball rule. The 25-year-old forward and 28-year-old guard practically grew up in Toronto, which is increasingly rare in a league that seems to shuffle the deck every six months.

VanVleet came as an undrafted free agent who earned his way to a Toronto Raptors training camp deal in 2016, eventually signing the largest contract an undrafted player has ever received and becoming just the fifth undrafted All-Star in the league. Anunoby, meanwhile, was selected 23rd overall by the Toronto Raptors in 2017, immediately starting games as a primary defender before eventually blossoming into a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and two-way stud. 

For this branded piece with Gillette, the official shave and beard care partner of the Toronto Raptors, Complex Canada caught up with VanVleet and Anunoby, who represent #TeamStyled and #TeamSmooth, respectively, showcasing their drastically distinct personalities on and off the court. VanVleet uses the official trimmer of the Toronto Raptors, the King C. Gillette Trimmer, while Anunoby uses the official razor of the Toronto Raptors, GilletteLabs with Exfoliating Bar razor, to help get their game faces on.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

The tagline for your Gillette commercial is “choose your game face.” As a basketball player and a highly visible personality, what does “game face” mean to you? 
Fred VanVleet:
My game face just speaks to being presentable and trying to have a fresh cut. I’m on #TeamStyled, so I like to keep myself to be stylish and clean and to just stay sharp with my hair and my beard. And it allows me to get my game face ready in terms of just being presentable and being stylish and sharp, whether that’s how I look or how I play.

View this video on YouTube


O.G. Anunoby: Your game face shows the world that you’re ready for whatever may be thrown at you. It says that you’ve put in the time, work and effort and have made the choice to be the best you can be. I’m #TeamSmooth, so I like to keep myself clean cut, no facial hair, and just being smooth. Feel good, play good. Smooth face. Smooth cheeks.

View this video on YouTube


Fred, what’s the story behind your beard? When did you first grow it out?
I tried in college. I was growing it out for a little bit, but I couldn’t get it all the way fully in. I did the paint thing for a little bit, I tried that. I ended up cutting it right before the season started because it was just too much upkeep. And then, my first year in the league, I started seeing everybody’s haircuts and how spotty they were and how a lot of guys in the league don’t really care about their haircut, so I’m like: Alright, I can buy myself some time to go through the rough phases of growing it out. And that was, like, six or seven years ago now, so I’ve been growing mine out for that long and I don’t think I’m going back. 

What would it take for you to go back?
At this point, the beard is just my look; it’s part of how I look and feel my best. But if I have a mid-life crisis when I’m done playing and I’m retired and I wanna switch up my whole look and just go off the grid, I might cut it then. If I cut my beard I’m probably going through something. It’s a sign, for sure.

O.G., have you ever tried to grow out a beard? 
O.G.: Yeah, I’ve tried many times. It’s not for me. It doesn’t connect; it’s spotty. It’s just not for me.

Do you ever wish you could grow a beard?
O.G.: No! My game face right now comes from years of hard work—from growing my game physically, mentally, and learning from my wins and losses. Maybe one day I’ll want to choose another game face for myself, but for now I’m #TeamSmooth.

og anunoby and fred vanvleet for gillette

Fred, I heard that you used to cut your hair three times a week when you first got into the league. Have you always taken pride in looking good, or did that start when you got to the pros? 
FVV: Yeah, I think since I was a young kid, just trying to have your own style and your own personality on and off the court. And then, obviously, as you grow and there’s more cameras on you, you try to look as good as possible at all times. Every day, we are in front of a thousand cameras.

Does looking good give you more confidence and help you play better? 
FVV: Yeah, I think so. It obviously depends on the individual, but for me, it helps. I think I just feel better when I get a fresh cut or when I got nice clothes on, just keeping myself up and fresh and looking sharp. It allows me to have a little bit more confidence. But everybody’s different. 

O.G.: I definitely agree. When I feel fresh and have no facial hair, I’m smooth, I feel better, I feel like I perform better. I’ve always felt that way.

OG anunoby of the toronto raptors

How has your game day ritual changed from when you first got into the league to now? 
O.G.: I do more activation in the weight room and stuff now. More hot tub, cold tub before the game, stuff like that. Just little stuff I’ve seen older guys do.

FVV: Yeah, I think the more you play as your role and minutes grow, the more you spend that downtime trying to get ready for the game or trying to get your body ready. Before, when I didn’t used to play, I was just filling that time doing whatever, shopping or playing video games or just doing anything, just because you got a whole lot of free time in between games to burn. But when you know you have 40 minutes to play, you’re gonna try to figure out how to get your body ready for that.

Some players have routines and basketball superstitions that they try to stick to. One of your teammates, for example, started meditating before each game in order to help focus his mind. Do you do anything like that? 
FVV: I do a little ritual during the anthems. Like, 15 to 20 minutes before the game, when it’s quiet, I close my eyes, I just go through a little routine in my head about what I want to do for the game. That’s something that I started doing over the last couple of years just to kinda just put my feet down and be grounded.

O.G.: I just try to make my last shot before heading to the dressing room. That’s the closest thing I have to a superstition or routine. 

What about after the game? Is there anything you do to wind down from all the excitement before you go to sleep?
O.G.: I just try to eat some food, watch the other games, and then try to go to sleep. 

Just basketball on top of basketball and straight to sleep? That sounds like a lot. 
Yeah, just ball on ball.

FVV: Yeah, same, pretty much. I come home, see what the kids are doing. But whether it was a good or bad game, I usually watch a little film or watch another game to take your mind off of whatever your performance was that night. And then try to find a way to get to sleep. But it’s hard to turn down after the game.

I’m surprised that you guys don’t watch a comedy or reality show or something to try to take your minds off of basketball. 
FVV: It’s hard. It’s hard, bro. You’re so locked in because it takes a lot to get up to that level of competition, and you can’t just turn it off, you know what I mean? So whether it’s the next day or the next practice or the next game, it’s hard to wind down, to turn that switch off. 

fred vanvleet for gillette

You guys have both been in Toronto for your entire careers, with Fred in year 7 and O.G. in year 6. What is something you have come to appreciate about the city? 
FVV: I think one thing I grew an appreciation for is the passionate fan base that we have. It’s really one of the top markets in the league for a lot of different reasons, and it takes a while to get used to that because there is a lot of noise and excitement and love for the game and for the team. But when we are playing well and everything’s going well, it’s one of the better places to play in the league. And I’ve grown to appreciate that.

O.G.: For sure. I also appreciate all the different cultures in Toronto, all the different available foods—it’s so multicultural here, a lot of different people, just a real melting pot. There are not many cities like Toronto in the world. 

What’s something you did in Toronto recently that you enjoyed? 
FVV: I enjoyed TIFF. I enjoyed the film festival and the red carpets and seeing some of the premieres and just being around that vibe, because I like movies, so being a part of that was cool. The other thing I did that I never previously thought anything of was going out on a boat in the summertime. And just going out and getting to see the city from a different viewpoint, you know what I mean? The city is so cool already that you forget that the water is there to explore. So that was pretty cool.

Image via Complex Original/Sid Naidu

O.G., what’s something you enjoyed this summer?
O.G.: I walked on Spadina. It was fun. 

How much do you miss the city and fanbase when you are on the road?
OG: Definitely a lot. Some arenas we play in, it’s quieter than it is here. So we definitely appreciate playing in Toronto and the fans, how enthused they are, how they are always into the game. It’s a good environment. 

FVV: Yeah, I think it’s dope that first of all we got a really big fan base, and secondly, we probably have the best traveling fan base. Everywhere you go, no matter what, vacation or anything, you see people from Toronto and you meet people from Toronto. And sometimes away games feel like a home game. Portland recently was crazy. Raptors fans always show up there, and also in Detroit, Miami, all of Florida, New York—there’s certain arenas where we go on the road and we know we are gonna have a large fan base there. It makes you feel good. It gives you a little extra boost.

To learn more about #TeamSmooth, #TeamStyled, the GilletteLabs with Exfoliating Bar razor, and the King C. Gillette Trimmer, and, choose your game face here.

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