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NBA PM: Finding Your Suit Game

Steve Kyler meets the man who made Skal Labissière’s draft suit to get one of his own and see how the process works.

Steve Kyler

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It’s not often in life when one of the top fashion and suit designers for athletes says, “Hey, I want to make you a suit.”

At first, the notion of a 40-something sports guy trying to pull off the fashion looks you see on draft night seemed a little laughable. But, hey, it’s a once in a lifetime thing, right?

During Summer League, and by random chance, I got introduced to Andrew Jang – the brains behind one of the more creative sports fashion and design teams in the business, Adriaen Black.

As we exchanged pleasantries about the businesses we are both in, he again declared that he wanted to make me a suit and asked, ‘When can we get together for measurements?’

Last weekend, I made my way over to Orlando to get measured. See, unlike your typical Men’s Warehouse, the Chicago-based Adriaen Black comes to you.

So how does one become a top suit and fashion guy for more than 60 sports stars?

AndrewJang_Suit1a“A referral,” Jang said when asked about his start in the business. “I was at a party. The next day, I got a phone call from some guy and he was like, ‘I was at a party, you met my wife…’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK?’ She had said I was the best dressed person she’d ever met and he asked if I could style him. I threw out some outrageous number. He took it. He literally said, ‘Can you come today?’ I showed up. He wrote a check. We cleaned out his whole closet and I really helped him with styling.  He referred me some clients, and it just kind of went from there. Next thing you know, athletes are calling, agents are calling.

“I think it’s because I focus more on styling than clothing design. It’s not just giving you a suit, it’s what is a suit doing for you right now? Next month? In the next year? How do I combine it with things I’d like to continue to produce for you? It’s just always being very thoughtful and thought out.”

Walking into this process, I had no real frame of reference for what to expect. Like most people, I am an off-the-rack clothes guy. I value comfort and usability over fashion. Was this going to be a painful process? Would I open a bottle of wine and have my feet rubbed? Honestly, I had no idea what to expect.

I can tell you now, the process was thorough. I think they took fewer measurements when building my house. We talked quite a bit about my personal interests. It was a strange process, but one that helped Jang understand who I was as a person, so he could help find a style that suits me.

It seemed strange, but that level of detail is what makes custom-built clothing special and unique.

For Adriaen Black, those meticulous details are the foundation of how they developed their process for fitting and working with athletes.

“So one, I have a really good team,” Jang explained.  “There is styling, fitting, design and construction; those are basically the things I believe goes into making the perfect outfit for somebody. Styling just comes so naturally for me. We kind of talked about how the individuality comes out: I see it. I see it in you and I want to bring it out. Then we I go to fitting and measuring. That takes a lot of time. It took a lot of times getting it wrong, and then working with some seasoned vets that we really worked with.

“When I measure and I am talking to the tailor, I use very big adjectives when I am describing what I want. ‘This guy is this, and here is what I want. I want this kind of in between Euro and Slim fit type of thing.’ We’ve built algorithms that allow us to make that construction almost seamless.

“You’ll feel it. Every person I have put a blazer on, it has literally fit perfect. And it that’s smile on their face that tells me that’s true.”

FullSizeRenderIn total, the measuring process took more than 45 minutes – partially because of the conversations in between measures, but also because of the number of measuring points used to get that perfect fit Jang is so proud of.

Fortunately for me, Jang scheduled enough time between clients that new Knicks guard Courtney Lee only had to wait a few minutes.

Working with athletes can be a very lucrative business, but for Adriaen Black the ability to work with so many daring and creative personalities defines the business a lot more than the price tags.

“In a lot of ways, I think I can relate just to them as people,” Jang explained. “You know athletes; there is a misconception about who they are. I never have really followed sports, but everything everyone had told me or everything you’d hear. You put this guy on some pedestal, or hear they’re an awful person, or that they have all this money. And what I liked as I met them is they are all great people. Super Ffunny, super fun and chill.

“I guess I get excited because they are in a place in their career doing something very special that they are dedicated to that I think all of us as young boys or girls looked up to at some point. I remember that every one of the people that I loved and looked up to were athletes. So even though I am not following sports, the fact that I get to work with them and help them in some way, it does make me really happy.”

This year, Adriaen Black designed the suits and fashion for Sacramento Kings big man Skal Labissière, one of the more commented on suits of the draft class. Surprisingly, it was also the first time one of Adriaen Black’s suits was prominently featured on national television.

“Usually everybody is like, ‘Hey, I am going to a wedding,'” Jang said of why his work hadn’t be on TV before. “Literally every other client was, ‘I’m just going to some event,’ and I would make it for them for that or build out a year-long wardrobe and they just wear it for everyday wear. The draft was the first one like that and it was kind of big.”

Normally, a small handful of designers do the custom suits players wear for the draft, so this was no small endeavor for Adriaen Black.

“It was kind of daunting,” Jang admitted.  “I really didn’t get into it for any of that.

Skal_Suit_1“One, I was so happy for Skal. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how great he looked. There is a big badge of honor. I think any designer, our biggest goal is to have someone, at least one person, wear our clothes. That was a real cool thing to have it on him, and on such a big stage. I really liked it when people were calling and saying he was so well dressed.”

Having a hit suit during the NBA Draft did open a lot of new doors.

“A lot more than I was used to, which was really cool,” Jang said.

While Jang and Adriaen Black have worked with countless players across many sports, the chance to do a draft-day suit never materialized until now. So the chance to work with Labissière was something of chance timing.

“I finally made the decision to work with some other people and my team; I was going to stop being just so secluded and only working with a handful of people,” Jang explained. “We wanted to do something more special. So we had actually reached out to one agent and he ended up referring us to a couple more. That is when Travis King called and said, ‘I have this guy, he’s kind of unknown but he is really cool, would you mind meeting him?’ I met him and just fell in love with the kid. So we had kind of been talking about it, and I remember saying, ‘If we do this, one of my goals is to be at a draft.’ And then literally it happened like three or four weeks later. I think it was a bit of luck and just really great timing that we had planned it out and suddenly it all happened.”

CamPayne_ESPYSuit1In addition to Labissière, Adriaen Black is also working with Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Cameron Payne, who wore an Adriaen Black original to the ESPYs a few weeks ago.

“Skal is awesome. Cameron Payne is another one,” Jang said. “Mookie Betts, who is over at the Red Sox. If you look at three of those, they look great in clothes, although some of them didn’t know it, especially the type of clothes I make. But their personalities are so uniquely different.”

It’s the personality part that Adriaen Black really focuses on.

“Skal is amazing,” Jang said with a smile. “Such a vibrant soul. When you are around him, you feel such a good presence. When I was near him, I’m like, ‘I know what types of clothes I want to make for you. I want to make you so fashionable.’ To me, there is fashion and there is style. Then there is mixing fashion and style. That’s how I work with everybody; it’s one of those three combinations.

“With Skal, it is just going to be fashion all day long with me. You have got that height, got that charisma and it’s going to show. [With Skal], people are going to look at you even if you have a bright fuchsia blazer on and you are just going to kill it. And he did.”

So how did Labissière respond to his suit game being such a hit at the draft?

“Even guys like Cam who have never really worn suits, when I put it on him, there is this desire now where it’s like ‘Oooh.. I want to look this good all the time,’” Jang said. “With Skal, we actually have an endorsement agreement with him, so we’re going to be creating a custom line of clothing for guys like Skal. When you come to the new Adrien Black site, it’s going to show off six to nine professional athlete personas. So new clients can come there and be like, ‘I want to dress like Skal, I have that same personality.’ Then, we’ll design we’ll design a custom line around a persona like Skal.”

Outfitting a draft pick is one thing, but competing with the likes of Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is another thing entirely, which is why signing Cameron Payne was so interesting to Jang.

ANdrewJang_Suit2a“Russell is considered one of the most fashionable, because he wears so much crazy and outlandish [stuff] – but it works for him,” Jang explained. “With Cam, I told him I want to do a couple of things: I want to graduate him a little bit as far maturity of understanding what fashion and style is, but then I do want to put him in that best dressed category. So when they talk about Westbrook, it’s also Westbrook – Payne.

“I think anytime Russell Westbrook shows up; I am going to have Cam show up, but in slightly something a little different. They’ll look at Westbrook and say, ‘Wow, did you see what he is wearing?’ But then, ‘Did you see what Cam is wearing?’ Equally, competing, but in this completely graduated way; we’re going to have a ton of fun.”

Jang and his team have already started working on designs and ideas for Payne, and are hoping to put him on the map with his own style and fashion.

“It’s going to be this whole line of slacks that you didn’t know you could put rips through them,” Jang said. “We’re going to do these custom sport blazers; we’ve already designed out a bunch for him. But have them under a beautifully designed button-up shirt with a beautiful pattern. It’s things that are going to really challenge who we are as a group, but then be able to put him right next to Russell Westbrook.”

While my suit won’t be ready until mid-August – photos will be supplied at a later date – Adriaen Black is ramping up some creative ideas around more than a dozen players, and they are not exclusively working with athletes.

“Primary, I do work with athletes. I do really well with their body figures. I do really well with their personalities,” Jang said. “But we do have clients that reach us that are just Regular Joes, or as I call them ‘Regular Mes.’ We base most of what we try to do on a membership model, so they can sign up for a monthly membership and then we’ll ask them, ‘Who do you want to dress like?’ and literally they can say, ‘I want to look similar to this,’ and we’ll make the wardrobe for them.”

Jang and his team have been incredible to work with, and their passion for the process and the looks they have generated are exciting.

The idea of a suit like Labissière pulled off on draft night sounded too good to pass up, and being able to share the process seemed like a great offseason project. We’ll see if I can pull it off as well as he did.

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team

Basketball Insiders

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Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.

“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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NBA PM: Patrick Beverley Set the Tone for Clippers in Season Opener

Patrick Beverley set the tone for the L.A. Clippers with his aggressive defense in their season opener.

Jesse Blancarte

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“The LA Clippers are going to the Western Conference Finals. Guaranteed.”

That bold statement was made by Charles Barkley during TNT’s coverage of last night’s matchup between the Lakers and Clippers.

While Barkley may have had his hot take canon primed and in mid-season form, that should not overshadow the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers put together a strong showing in their first regular season game since the departure of Chris Paul.

Blake Griffin logged 29 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and knocked down three of his six three-point attempts. Griffin was aggressive and showed no hesitation on his jumper, which seemed to open up lanes for him to drive to the basket (where he is most effective). DeAndre Jordan was fantastic as well, contributing 14 points, 24 rebounds, one assist and one steal.

While the Clippers lost some significant contributors from last season, including J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jamal Crawford, the team had some returning and new players show that they are capable of filling the void.

Milos Teodosic was just 2-9 from the field, but knocked down two three-pointers and looked comfortable and effective running the team’s offense. Danilo Gallinarni shot just 3-13 from the field but looked healthy and spry, displaying the kind of mobility that is necessary to play the small forward position. His ability to act as a secondary playmaker wasn’t on full display, but there were moments where it was apparent that he could be a big help in generating open looks for his teammates. Lou Williams also looked good in his Clippers debut, scoring in a variety of ways off the bench and contributing six assists as well. Wesley Johnson continues to look confident and aggressive, a continuation from his preseason performances, and is starting to knock down the open shots his teammates are creating for him (which has been a problem for him in the past).

While the Clippers looked solid in their opening act without Paul, it should be noted that the Lakers are a young team overall and their defense has been a major problem for the last few seasons. While the Lakers have added some promising young talent over the offseason, like most young teams, they are going to struggle to slow down veteran teams with potent offenses. It would be a mistake to think the Clippers can replicate this sort of offensive performance every night, especially against the better defensive teams in the league. However, perhaps the most promising part of the Clippers’ season debut was the fact that they seemed to feed off of and embrace the gritty demeanor and style of play that Patrick Beverley brings to the court each and every night.

Last night’s game was the NBA debut for rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who many predict will develop into a star player. Unfortunately for Ball, his opening night matchup came against Beverley, who earned a spot on the 2017 All-Defensive First Team. Beverley repeatedly guarded Ball past half court, pushed him around and did everything he could to throw him off of his game. He held Ball to three points, nine rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes of action.

Beverley, like every NBA player, has heard the hype and noise surrounding Ball and his future in the league (most of it from his outspoken father, LaVar).

“I just had to set the tone,” Beverley said. “I told him after the game that due to all the riffraff his dad brings, that he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. I let him know that after the game. What a better way to start than spending 94 feet guarding him tonight — welcome the young guy to the NBA.”

Beverley is one of the more aggressive defenders in the NBA and is known for trying to get under the skin of his opponents, so Lonzo may not face this level of intensity in every game. But based on Beverley’s comments, it’s clear that he expects other players around the league to defend Lonzo aggressively as well.

Snoop Dogg, the rapper and passionate Lakers fan, summed up the issue for Ball arguably better than anyone else has so far.

“His father put him in the lion’s den with pork chop drawers on,” said Snoop.

For his part, Lonzo complimented Beverley on his aggressive defense.

“[Beverley] plays hard. He knows his job. He does it very well,” said Ball. “He gets under people’s skin and plays defense and does what he can to help his team win.”

Beverley set the tone for the Clippers, who looked crisp and confident throughout the game. Griffin’s three-point shot looks like it could finally be a reliable part of his offensive arsenal. Jordan was very active on the glass, pulling down 24 rebounds (possibly inspired in part by his commitment to donate $100 per rebound this season to help the effort to rebuild his hometown of Houston after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey). The rest of the supporting cast played with the sort of cohesion and confidence that takes at least a few weeks into the season to develop. Again, the Clippers’ performance could have stemmed primarily from the Lakers’ shaky defense, but it was encouraging to see the team play with such force and confidence in the absence of Paul.

The Western Conference is extremely talented and deep, so it’s unlikely that the Clippers will make it to the Western Conference Finals as Barkley predicted. However, challenging for a spot in the playoffs and perhaps even doing some damage once there seems to be in the realm of possibility. This is especially the case considering how much of an impact Beverley had Thursday night, both defensively and in setting the tone for the rest of his new teammates.

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Morris Bringing Leadership To Celtics

Marcus Morris chats with Basketball Insiders for a one-on-one exclusive.

Spencer Davies

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Returning just one starter from last year’s top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics underwent wholesale changes this past offseason.

Gordon Hayward signed a super max contract. Danny Ainge pried Kyrie Irving away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blockbuster deal. Jayson Tatum was selected with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft.

In early July, though, there was an under-the-radar trade executed that hasn’t been mentioned much. Surprisingly, Celtics guard Avery Bradley was sent to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris, a heady wing with size and versatility to add to a revamped core of players.

Bradley was a mainstay with the franchise for seven years and played a vital role as a part of Brad Stevens’ system, but Boston decided to move in a different direction. As for the man they got in return, he’s thrilled to be there.

“It makes me feel good,” Morris told Basketball Insiders of Ainge dealing one of his best former players for him. “It makes you feel wanted.

“This is my first time since I’ve been in the NBA I’ve been on a team with a bunch of guys that [are] All-Stars. With the maturity of the team being this high and having them high expectations on us, I’m excited to get the season going and see how far we can take this.”

The Detroit Pistons likely wanted to keep him, but the organization clearly felt Bradley’s skill set was too good to pass up. For Morris, he insisted there was no indication that his old team would send him away, but he hasn’t been bashful about talking up his new home.

“Had no idea that I was gonna be a Boston Celtic, but I’m ready for the challenge, you know?” Morris said. “I’m excited. Boston, being a Celtic—it’s something that growing up you don’t really see happening, but when it happens it’s an amazing thing.

“It’s like playing for the Patriots, you know what I mean? One of the most heralded teams and most heralded franchises, and Boston is one of those.”

Entering the seventh season of his career, Morris has remained a steady part of the league. During his time in Detroit, he started nearly every game for the Pistons and found a comfort zone that he believes will carry over in Boston.

“Just continue to be consistent, continue to build on my last past couple of years,” Morris said of his personal goals. “I really felt like I carved my spot in the NBA the last two years—averaging 14 a year and helping my team get to the playoffs one of those years, so I really think I’ve carved a niche in this league.”

The success has come thanks to his versatility and the NBA’s current direction pointing towards that type of game. All of a sudden, not having a defined position makes a player more valuable, something Morris is thankful for as he continues to bring a little bit of everything to the table.

“For guys like me, it’s great,” Morris said. “Coming into the league, I had this ‘tweener’ thing on my back and now it’s like [freaking] great to be a ‘tweener’ at this time. I’m actually happy that it’s switching to my position and guys that can do multiple things are being utilized more in this league.”

Putting the ball in the basket has come fairly easy for Morris, who averaged 14.1 points per game on 42.6 percent from the field over 159 games with Detroit. He’s able to stretch the floor and provide solid spacing offensively, and he envisions doing more than that for this Celtics group.

“And leadership,” Morris said. “I’m not too much of a vocal guy, but I’m a passionate guy on the court. I think that’ll rub off on guys. I love scoring. I love shooting the ball. But that’s not the only thing I do.

“I’ve been a tough defender around this league for the last past years and I’m really looking forward to hanging my hat on that again and just doing whatever it takes for my team to get to that next level.”

Stevens is aware of the impact Morris can bring in the locker room and on the floor. When he returns from a sore knee to make his debut for Boston, that’ll show through his play.

“He’s a guy that can stretch the floor at the four,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that can guard two through four. He’s tough. He’s smart. He works the right way. We’ll be better with Marcus Morris for sure. The versatility is a very important part of what we want to be.

“Whether he is starting in a couple of weeks or whether he’s coming off the bench, at the end of the day he’s gonna be a critical, critical part of our team.”

While he’s waited to come back, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have stepped up in his absence. With Hayward likely sidelined for the rest of the season, that success will have to be sustained. Morris is a big believer in this promising duo and sees how grounded they are to make that happen.

“They’re mature guys for their age,” Morris said. “Jaylen, I think he’s 20. He’s definitely a lot more mature than I thought. Jayson, too. He’s way more mature than your average 19-year-old.

“At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. I think those guys, they’re ready for the challenge. They love the game. They always in the gym, so I think it’ll be easy for ‘em.”

Part of Morris’ role is guiding those two and the other younger pieces that Boston has as they try and establish themselves as professionals. He’s kind of a coach per se, which is somewhat fitting considering what he did this summer.

Most basketball fans are aware of “The Basketball Tournament” that takes nationwide. For those that aren’t, it’s a single-elimination competition between 64 teams in which the champion receives a $2 million prize. Morris was the head coach of Team FOE—standing for Family Over Everything.

Along with his fellow Kansas alums, including his brother Markieff and Thomas Robinson, Morris coached his team to the final game. Team FOE was in front most of the game but ultimately fell to Boeheim’s Army, a squad filled with former Syracuse Orangemen.

“I was on my way man,” Morris said of coming close. “I actually liked it. I’m a smart guy. Me and basketball stuff, I can put it together real well. I was kinda upset we lost in the fashion that we lost, but we’ll be back next year.

“I’m a smart player,” he said regarding a potential future on the sidelines. “I know the game really well. Coaching comes easy for some guys and I’m just one of those guys.”

You could hear “Coach Morris” down the line, but for now and for years to come, Marcus is focused on his first year with Boston. It’s a team that surely has the talent to be the top team in the East it’s pegged to be. Stevens is a basketball savant with great leadership.

Even without an All-Star like Hayward and a 0-2 start, the Celtics should still be a force to be reckoned with. There’s an even greater demand for them to achieve their potential, especially knowing eyes will be on them, but Morris welcomes the challenge.

“Man, it’s pressure on every team,” Morris said. “It ain’t like it’s just all on the Boston Celtics. It’s pressure on every team. What’s a game without pressure anyway?

“Pressure makes it the best thing. That’s what we need to do anyway. I enjoy the pressure. Me personally.”

Shouldering the load won’t be easy, but if it comes down to it, Morris will be swimming instead of sinking. When all is said and done, he shares the same aspirations as most players do—raising the Larry O’Brien trophy in the summer.

“I want to the win the championship,” Morris said. “You put this type of team together to get to those positions. I’m looking to be playing in June and trying to get to a championship.”

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