This week I sat down with Terance Mann, a shooting guard on the Los Angeles Clippers who is entering his fifth year in the league. “I’m just chillin,” reads his Instagram bio, and I can attest to the fact that the 27-year-old was indeed doing so when we met the day after the Clippers played the Knicks, part of a New York City roadtrip that saw them also play the Brooklyn Nets the following night. He was a cool character, humble and a bit soft-spoken, and honest about his fairly recent interest in clothing. Not everyone featured in this column has years and years of experience, but again, this variety makes for an interesting mix of folks. I want to continue to engage with people all across the spectrum of style. It’s an open dialogue.
That’s not to say Mann doesn’t have a grasp on his style; quite the opposite. And he’s got the look to model clothes, especially as fashion continues to democratize and diversify with some much-needed industry shakeups. Personally, I’d rather see my favorite athletes in gear than influencers. No disrespect. Below, Mann and I discuss his path to the NBA, why Boston isn’t that different from New York, which NBA player influenced his own style, and plenty more.
Tell me about your basketball journey. How did you start playing, how did you foster your talent, and how did you get to the NBA?
I started playing because my mom was a coach over here at LIU Brooklyn. That's where she started. I just started playing there, going to her practices, and then got into recreational ball with my friends. When we moved to Boston, I started playing outside a lot. It was a long journey to get to the NBA. A lot of basketball. A lot of outdoor basketball. A lot of days in the gym. AAU Prep school. Then went to college for four years and ended up getting drafted with the 48th pick.
Born in Brooklyn, moved to Massachusetts, and now you live in L.A. What do you think about the style in each of those states?
Very different. New York has its own style. I feel like in New York, you're allowed to wear more layers. A lot of people wear a lot of layers out here. They layer their stuff up. In L.A. it's real different. They have the baggy look that people like to go with. But L.A. has a lot of different styles and it opened me up to something new, for sure. Then Boston's real similar to New York.
I’ve never really been there and I’m kind of surprised by that, actually. They have good style?
Yeah, they have good style. A lot of hats being worn in Boston, though. A lot of Red Sox hats.
What role does style play in the NBA? Has it changed since you came into the league?
It's a platform for people to express their energy and express who they are off the court. A lot of times it'll be guys who you think are real quiet, and their game's kind of quiet, but they're very loud with the way they dress. It allows you to show who you really are in the NBA. As for if it’s changed: Yes and no. There have been a lot of little things, but I wouldn't say anything too dramatic.
When did you first fall in love with fashion and clothing?
My rookie year. Before that, I really wasn't that into it, and then I met a couple friends who were. They said I should dress up for the first game. I tried it for fun and then fell in love with it. From there, I started getting messages from a whole bunch of different brands who wanted to send me stuff and we just took off from there.
How have you honed your style since you first became interested?
Just by feel. It's really about feel. Putting stuff on, seeing if I like it. Looking at other people, seeing what they're wearing, and just kind of coming up with my own type of feeling.
Is there anything in particular that's important to you when you try something new?
How the pants look. That's my biggest thing: pants. I really take pride in them. I build my outfit around them, for sure.
Is there anyone in the NBA, either formerly or currently, whose style you appreciate?
Russell Westbrook for sure. I just like his style, man. He changes it as the years go by and he's always up-to-date on what he's wearing; it's always hip. It always suits him well.
Are there any particular teams or player match ups you look forward to each year or even just this year coming up?
I look forward to being in New York because it's home for me. The way everyone dresses when they get here—everybody puts it on. It’s pretty cool to see.
What are some things you do outside of basketball?
I have my own foundation, the Terance Mann Complete Player Foundation. I do a lot of mentorship work with kids, trying to get them into camps, trying to get them scholarships. Just trying to give them opportunity to either play sports or do something else instead of being outside all the time. We started it at the beginning of this summer, but we had it planned from last summer and even started doing things last year. My mom runs it. It’s based on the East Coast.
If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it consist of?
Baggy sweatpants, probably black. Probably a black hoodie. And probably some black sneakers.
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