Close-cropped gladiator 'do; pruned sideburns and mustache; salt-and-pepper soul patch.
The Lakers coach's chic new SoCal minimalism breaks sharply with the bushy mountain-man aesthetic he cultivated in Chicago. Stylist Billy Yamaguchi, who was recommended by Jackson's girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, employed the principles of feng shui—typically used in interior design—for Jackson's look. Says Yamaguchi, "With Phil, I wanted to enhance his water element, his reflective, profound dimension. By taking the beard off, we enhanced his facial structure." A risky step in the cutthroat world of NBA courtside fashion, perhaps, but Yamaguchi aimed to indulge Jackson's mystical side: I know Phil is a Zen person, and when people think of Zen, they think of simplicity. I wanted to make sure I created something that was simple yet had a lot of power."
"If you need to consult some ancient mythology before you comb your hair, you're trying way too hard," says Esquire executive editor Scott Omelianuk, co-author of Things a Man Should Know about Style. "The impulse to cut it short when you're losing it is right, but there's a malignant aspect to his appearance, like he's some Soviet-era apparatchik." And the soul patch? "A godawful affectation," says Omelianuk. "The whole look is a weird combination of David Letterman and a white Dizzy Gillespie."