The sincerity behind his voice serenades with humble pride as Charlotte Hornets center, Bismack Biyombo tells me, “I love my job. It’s my dream job. Why wouldn’t I want to dress the best I can for my dream job?” Beyond the NBA veteran’s strong presence in the paint, lives an even stronger mindset that not only fuels his success, but the minuscule details of his life and how he presents himself.
On June 23, 2011, a crisp black suit, fitted with an ever so precise presidential folded pocket square escorted Bismack Biyombo onto the NBA stage. While he was the No.7 overall pick to the Sacramento Kings, a draft night trade made Charlotte Bismack’s NBA home for his first five seasons. That suit, a custom Italian piece, was an early sentiment of how he would define his approach to fashion and the game throughout his career. A hands-on approach to the details of that first look, he tells me, “I wanted it to be perfect and professional.” The timeless color palette and lines of that first suit, is still a foundation that he holds true: “I don’t like my suits to be too loud, too out there.”
When asked to grade his first look on the NBA stage, Bismack chuckles, reflecting on how fits in the league have progressed from their baggier days. Finally settling on a solid ‘7’, he tells me, “I could still wear that suit though, that was a great suit.” Fashion trends aside, he emphasizes that working hard as an athlete is something that as professionals they want to display; leaning into the more tailored looks.
From that fateful day in New York, the thrill of creation continues to be a driving force in his love for fashion. As brands continue to alter designs to accommodate the pros who style them, the early challenges of finding designer clothing to fit his 6’8” frame have eased. True to his timeless ways, fashion houses, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Givenchy are his big three when it comes to designer names. Still, his curious and creative eye wanders, capitalizing on the opportunity to make fits uniquely him. Continuously peeling back the layers of fashion, he wears pieces that are true reflections of himself, “I might see something from a designer that I kind of want to tweak a little bit, so it’s more me.”
There’s a thoughtful simplicity that makes Bismack’s styles so timeless and respected. It rings of a respect for the game, an acknowledgement that getting paid to do what he loves is truly a privilege. Something, the Congolese native doesn’t take lightly. “I have a balance with my style. I can adjust to the crowd that I’m in,” he emphasizes. “I love suits. I love the confidence that’s carried with them. I’m very aware that if I’m going to a meeting, I can’t wear what I’d wear hanging with my homeboys.”
When it comes to actually dressing for that dream job, he leans into his intuition. “I always say, you look good, you feel good, you play good. I really take pride in that. The most important thing I look for in game day? I like to be young, but I never like my colors to be exaggerated. I try not to be on the flashy side. I still want to look good, look presentable, but I just don’t want to be flashy. That’s the first thing I pay attention to.” While he tends to pick out his styles the night before, he admits that he often awakes from his pregame nap and his style has swayed. Instinctively knowing, a change has to be made. His confidence reiterates his strong sense of self, telling me that with fashion, “If you know you know. If you don’t know, you don’t know.”
While each game day fit has an acute awareness of why it was pulled, Bismack admits that home games carry more weight. “On the road, my approach is ‘this is great, but I can’t wear it at home,’ at home, I try to bring out the best outfit I got. I really put my time into it.” Bismack is an essential reminder, that whether it be fashion or life, staying true to yourself is the best approach. His rule of thumb is always to “do what makes you feel good,” an approach to fashion that can’t be argued with. You get the sense that with Bismack, it’s a harmonious experience for him, an indescribable energy that seeps in his soul. “I style everything myself. I just like to do it myself. Making adjustments. Setting up all the things. The idea with stylists is they might have an idea in my mind for me, but I truly have the best idea for myself of how I want to look.”
There are few fashion critics that he takes to heart, but his pregame conversations with his siblings is another outlet that maintains his grounded attitude. The group texts that include his six siblings, provide humor and sound encouragement of the outfits he pulls. Reiterating that his roots in the Congo are woven tightly together with natural style. “We have it in our blood, man! Nobody teaches fashion there! We have the desire to dress up.”
How would Bismack Biyombo describe the style of the NBA in 1 word: “Legendary.”
An awareness that he’s a piece of that history both in fashion and game is something Bismack Biyombo honors every time he steps through the tunnel. A stylish salute to the game he loves so. “Everyday I’m very aware that it could be my last game. I’m going to go out there, dress the way I want to and play the way I want to.”