Life

Serge Ibaka Is Coming For Lenny Kravitz's Giant-Scarf Reign

"I've been in the scarf game 10 years now."
Serge Ibaka, teaching us all how to accessorize this winter.
Serge Ibaka, teaching us all how to accessorize this winter.

“I cannot escape this,” Lenny Kravitz said, on a 2018 episode of “The Tonight Show,” referring to an enormous scarf he wore in 2012. Jimmy Fallon laughed.

If you’ve been on the internet long enough, you probably can’t escape it, either: Kravitz was long ago memeified for wearing a giant wool scarf that looked more like a blanket. “Look,” he said, “I live in the Bahamas. I’m used to hot weather.”

Well. Canada is not the Bahamas, if you haven’t noticed. The weather isn’t so hot right now. But Kravitz just gained the perfect Canadian heir — a northern icon who can carry the winter torch and, with it, the shining promise of eternal warmth: Toronto Raptor Serge Ibaka.

If you happen to follow the NBA, then you know the few yards between the parking lot and the locker room have become an accidental fashion show. Players, pretending not to see the camera, cover the distance in their best looks.

Wednesday was no exception. Toronto Raptors OG Anunoby, 22, and Ibaka, 30, arrived at their game against the Indiana Pacers in the least subtle way possible: wrapped up in enormous scarves.

Really, it’s a lesson on how to stay warm — a fashion statement for the bold and the strong-willed. Anunoby arrived first, donning a long Burberry number that swished behind him as he walked. But then came Ibaka, whose gigantic knit scarf, in all its glory, instantly became the perfect sequel to Kravitz’s iconic winter gear.

This is how to do winter right.

I mean, look at that scarf. And while you’re looking, keep in mind two things: (1) Serge Ibaka is literally seven feet tall, and (2) the scarf is nearly touching the floor. It takes a certain sprezzatura — and a generous height — to pull that off.

In case you were wondering, the Raptors won that game. With 30 seconds left on the clock, Ibaka sunk the winning three-pointer — it broke a franchise record for the team. The Raptors are now on a historic 12-game win streak. Maybe the scarves are secret talismans.

Oh, and if you’re confused as to why there’s a sudden sartorial skirmish of the scarves between professional basketball teammates, here’s its ultimate origin story: it all started with a fight.

On the latest episode of Holt Renfrew’s “Avec Classe” digital series, a new show about Ibaka’s style, Anunoby and Ibaka troll each other. It’s playful and brotherly, the sort of repartee you’d expect between teammates in a locker room.

The subject, though, is fashion.

Specifically, it’s Anunoby claiming he taught Ibaka everything he knows about style.

“I put you on how to dress,” Anunoby says, cool as a cucumber. “You know I did. I put you on Valentino. I put you on denim jackets …”

The whole scene is like performance art. Anunoby launches calmly into an exhaustive list of all the things he’s taught Ibaka: Heron Preston, for example, and Balenciaga hoodies. Ibaka looks shocked. It’s like someone has just told him that basketball doesn’t really exist and that he’s been living in a “Truman Show”-style simulation for the last 13 years.

Watch: Serge Ibaka, wearing The Scarf, answers questions after the game.

“OG ... you say you put me on fashion?” he asks incredulously. “Wow. I think I’m done here. I’m done.”

The epic battle culminates in the worst thing Ibaka can imagine, a scene so dramatic, so cinematic, that it ought to be nominated for this weekend’s Oscars ceremony: Anunoby claims he did scarves first.

“I put you on scarves,” he says. “Didn’t I put you on scarves?”

Ibaka protests. “But what about scarves?”

Ibaka protests again. “But what about scarves?”

Eventually, Anunoby explains himself: he wore a scarf one time. Ibaka saw it and liked it so much that he went out and bought one himself. “And the next time I was wearing mine, you had one, too,” Anunoby says. “And you acted like you did it first. But I had the scarf first.”

Ibaka can’t take it anymore. “OG, let me tell you something, OK?” he says. “This is your second year in the league, third year in the league. I’ve been in the scarf game 10 years now.

And then the best part: “And two, OG: I don’t dress, man. I do art.”

Based on the photo of Ibaka in the obscenely big scarf, it’s hard to argue against this. He’s clearly mastered the art of winter dressing. He might even be giving Kravitz a run for his money. Together, Ibaka and Anunoby have given us the perfect, lasting question you should always ask yourself when preparing to storm the inclement weather: “But what about scarves?”

(Oh, and just for good measure, here are some tweets and memes:)

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