A Behind The Scenes Look at Al Harrington's Headband

Posted on December 05, 2013 by Adam Bradley

Photo Credit: Monumental Network

It all started in 2001 when a young Jermaine O’Neal and a 21-year-old Al Harrington were prompted by then-former teammate Carlos Rogers to wear a headband in practice. 

Who knew at the time it was the beginning of a 13-year tradition that’d become part of Harrington’s identity, not missing one game without his headband ever since.

Have you at least missed a quarter or a half during your career?  “I may have gone a quarter without it if it got knocked off but never longer than that,“ Harrington said. 

Harrington knows he’s never gone more than a whole half without it because he gets a brand new headband (and jersey) at halftime every game.   When asked if he’s ever considered assigning a teammate with headband duty (to be in charge of giving him a new one and overseeing his collection) he admits he’s “never taken it that far.” 

Having played on seven different teams in his career he’s been through the full color spectrum of headbands with the exception of two. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever worn green and black,” he said.

He was correct with green but needed to be reminded of his stint in Orlando where he sported a black headband.  “Oh yeah, forgot about Orlando,”  Harrington said with a smile.  

Purple is the other missing color.

Understanding uniforms have multiple colors like the Wizards' - red, white & blue, Harrington usually wears the color headband the equipment manager sets out for him.  Early in his career he was superstitious about the color and if he had a good game he wanted to stick with the same color until his game warranted a change. 

Many consider headbands for fashion over function, but Harrington said he's evolved, “when I was younger it was all about the style, but now it’s a necessity. I don’t think I could play right without it.”

Which led us to the infamous Scott Skiles and Chicago Bulls scenario from 2006 when Skiles put a ban on headbands for his team. 

“It would’ve been tough for me to play for them during that period,” Harrington said.  “Honestly at the time they were pursuing Ben Wallace and I and had I joined them it would’ve really bothered me.”

Harrington went on to admit if all things were equal between another team and the Bulls, the headband restriction would’ve been enough to sway him to join the other team.

Photo Credit: Pacers Blog

Despite his marriage to the headband, Harrington doesn’t currently own any of his game-worn headbands; not even the ones that helped contribute to his best performances on the court.  “After every game I find a kid in the crowd and they’re the lucky one to get my nasty, sweaty headband,”  Harrington said with a laugh.  “Sometimes I’ll just flip it out into the crowd and it's funny because you can see the sweat flying all over the place.”

As the years have gone on, Al has had many looks, but he's always tried to stay consistent, wearing the NBA logo over his right eye, “That’s just how I do it,” he explained.

With the increase of headband-wearers in the league, Harrington shrugs off the notion he’s the grandfather of the headband currently in the NBA.  The increase hasn’t gone unnoticed though. When asked which current player sports a headband the best in the NBA, he gives his praise to “Carmelo, LeBron and my guy Jermaine O’Neal are my top three.”

But what about the others?   

Does he have a problem with Rajon Rondo’s NBA logo being upside-down?  “Nah, I’m cool with that because there’s been times when I’m rushing and I’ll throw on my band and the logo will be upside down,” Harrington said. 

Who's not representing the headband well in this picture? “I’m not sure about Scalabrine and Dirk; I wouldn’t say it's their best look," he answered quietly with a grin.  

What about Cliff and the headband covering his eyebrows?  “Cliff’s an OG (original gangster) so whatever he wants to do he can do it.” 

It's good to see Harrington paying respect to the headband-wearers that came before him.  Hopefully the young guys take notice and give respect to Harrington, who came before them. 


Make sure to follow @WizardsXTRA @BallHogsRadio and the author @ABradley5

next up:

The Great Wall

December 03, 2013

John Wall has been instrumental in the Wizards 9-9 start and is playing his best basketball to date!


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