Billy Janssen sees all the James Harden wannabes in their fake beards and their foam masks.
Wanna beard like Harden?
Janssen beat you there.
“Mine's legit,” he said. “It's homegrown.”
Nothing fake or foam here. The Oklahoma City resident has a beard that even the Thunder super sub could appreciate. It's full and thick and bushy.
And there's never been a better time to be part of the Harden Hysteria. Two weeks ago, he propelled the Thunder to a first-round sweep against the Mavs. Last week, he won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award. And Monday night, he was cheered like never before at The Peake.
Ron Artest and his elbow are in town for the playoffs. While the Laker enforcer was vilified during Game 1 for the elbow he tried to implant in the side of Harden's head a few weeks ago, Harden was celebrated with signs and T-shirts and, yes, even fake beards.
As loud as people booed Artest, they cheered Harden even louder.
Janssen added his voice to the chorus.
“It was so loud and so awesome,” he said.
Janssen has been a Harden fan since Day 1, and he admits it was the bushy beard that first caught his eye. That's because Janssen has always had facial hair of his own. Even back when he was in high school at Putnam City West, he was forever the guy growing a goatee or a mustache or a beard.
“The mustache was usually for jokes and giggles,” he said. “But I grew my goatee out pretty long.”
Whatever style he picks, Janssen has always been able to grow out his hair quickly. He doesn't have the patchy spots. He doesn't endure the scraggly bits. He's been blessed with fabulous facial follicles.
Friends always joke that he needs to shave.
“Man,” they say, “you'll grow it back in two days.”
It doesn't happen that fast, but Janssen can usually have a full beard in a week's time pretty easily.
Last October, he decided to put his hair-growing ability to use for Halloween.
Grow out his beard and dress up like James Harden.
The getup, complete with jersey, shorts and shoes, was a hit. Janssen liked it so much that he decided to keep the beard.
Part of it was because of the look, but part of it was because of how much of a Harden fan he's become. Even though The Beard enticed him, The Player sold him. Janssen loves the way Harden shoots and drives and does so many different things for the Thunder.
Recently, he decided to take his love of Harden a step further. For the playoffs, he added a Hardenesque fauxhawk to his look.
He overheard a couple little girls in the crowd talking about him during Game 1.
“Oh, my gosh,” they exclaimed. “He looks like James Harden.”
“Every time ... I've been to a Thunder game, I had a bunch of people take pictures of me,” he said. “A lot of people have said I look like James Harden ... except for being white.”
All the beards, whether real or fake, have not gone unnoticed by Harden.
“It's pretty funny,” he said. “It definitely makes me proud.”
Fear the Beard?
Nah, around here, Thunder fans prefer to Follow the Beard instead.
James Harden's beard has created a craze among Thunder fans. Here's a look at some of the fun:
A group of fans from Woodward decided to have a little fun and parodied Maroon 5's song “Moves Like Jagger.” The title? “Beard Like Harden.” If you haven't heard it, you might be one the last one in Oklahoma. Go to YouTube, search for “Beard Like Harden” and join the more than 100,000 people who've watched the video. (Yes, there's a video.)
The Fake Beards
Fake beards have popped up from time to time throughout the season, but they were everywhere during Game 1 against the Lakers. There was a fresh take on the fake beards, too — foam masks with Harden's silhouette.
“Fear The Beard” T-shirts have long been a staple around Oklahoma City, but there are some new looks that are pretty cool. One spotted at The Peake on Monday night had an outline of Harden's beard with the simple words “FEAR IT.” VivaLaBarba.com has a line with silhouettes of famous beards, and they recently added “The Harden.” But the funniest might be one from local outlet Tree & Leaf. Turn up the bottom of the shirt where a printed-on beard is on the underside, place the bottom hem just under your nose and, voila, you have a beard.