It’s not quite August, but NBA wedding season is officially upon us. It’s the happiest time of the year! Summer workouts in Vegas and Los Angeles were interrupted for one night as the league’s luminaries dispersed to coastal idylls to celebrate the nuptials of Trevor Ariza and Bree Anderson (#TheArizasSayIDo) in Dana Point, California, and Harrison Barnes and Brittany Johnson (#HBee2017) in Newport, Rhode Island. The best weddings culminate with stories that last long beyond one night of revelry, and if NBA Twitter is any indication, these two were both top shelf.
The leading story line is from HB’s wedding, where Stephen Curry, en route home from his Under Armour tour of Asia, made fun of LeBron James’s workout videos. This alone would make news, but his hype man in the 20-second video was Kyrie Irving, who is reportedly trying to step out of James’s shadow. There’s so much to unpack, and we shall. Yet Ariza’s wedding cannot be ignored. His affair featured Chris Paul, James Harden (secretly the most popular guy in the world), Dorell Wright, Travis Scott, and a cameo from Kylie Jenner, who channeled Hillary Clinton by wearing a red pant suit. Again, there’s so much to unpack!
Ultimately, the NBA is about competition, and NBA weddings are no different. Thus, I must ask, who had the better wedding? This is a question that the TLC television show Four Weddings tackles, though almost strictly with civilians, who participate in the fairly degrading and insulting program in hopes of winning a free honeymoon. Four Weddings pits four brides against each other, and they rate each other on specific categories to determine whose wedding was best. This model is how the Ariza and Barnes weddings will be evaluated, except there’s no prize save for my seal of approval. The categories are: (1) most provocative story line; (2) best glue guy; (3) star power; (4) strength of registry; (5) location.
1. Most Provocative Story Line
Given the saturation of NBA news and social media chatter, true provocation is hard to achieve in 2017, but apparently it’s a challenge that Kyrie Irving is eager to accept. He is the eye of the trade-rumor hurricane right now, and he stormed HB’s wedding. With an assist from Steph Curry, he committed the mortal wedding sin of upstaging the event itself. When a bride marries a professional athlete and she is not someone as famous as Gisele Bündchen or Kate Upton (soon, I assume) or Eva Longoria — RIP, Eva Longoria Parker — she is already upstaged.
Curry’s impersonation of LeBron and the attendant encouragement by Irving requires me to revise so much of what I thought about these two untraditional point guards. It’s been only seven months since Kyrie unleashed every move possible to make Steph look bad and make the Warriors look broken on Christmas Day, and it’s been only seven weeks since Steph got his revenge by playing such a perfect and subtle five games against the Cavs that most people underplayed how central he is to the Warriors’ success. These two aren’t supposed to like each other.
The Cavs-Warriors rivalry was poised to continue, as neither team had made significant roster moves yet. The familiarity that comes with three consecutive Finals matchups should have made another rematch for Christmas Day scheduling in December. But Kyrie and Steph have change the narrative yet again. Not only does Kyrie want to escape LeBron, but he has enough goodwill toward a supposed nemesis (which may have been amplified thanks to wedding champagne) to dance alongside him. In the span of eight days, Kyrie sent the NBA world spinning and then set it off its axis.
And yet, that’s far from all the palace intrigue — Barnes’s wedding reunited the 2015 Warriors. Steph, Klay Thompson (with an unidentified blond date), Andre Iguodala, Justin Holiday, Andrew Bogut, and Kent Bazemore were all in attendance. And despite the fact that Barnes signed as a free agent and Bogut was traded to Dallas to make room for Kevin Durant after he was recruited by the Warriors’ core, there doesn’t seem to be any bad blood.
Trevor and Bree cannot compete here. Ariza’s wedding featured teammates James Harden and Chris Paul, which is pretty standard and bodes well for the Great Rockets Experiment. There were no 2009 Lakers in attendance, presumably because Kobe Bryant was busy at Chargers training camp. In terms of story lines, this was a snooze.
The decisive winner is Harrison Barnes.
2. Best Glue Guy
Like all hipster NBA teams, weddings need a good glue guy, or a glue couple. The bride and groom need to have a friend who has connectivity across friend groups, bridging the college friends and the childhood friends and the new, adult-life friends. In the NBA, this is a guy or a couple with entrée to a few different social circles; and at Trevor Ariza’s wedding, this function was performed by Dorell and Mia Wright.
Dorell may be out of the league, but his popularity is unchanged. He was previously seen at Russell Westbrook’s wedding, he is forever linked to Dwyane Wade through the 2006 Miami Heat team, and his wife’s Instagram is the best way for triangulating friendships within the NBA. Mia is in the upper echelon of WAGS; she is best friends with Ayesha Curry (making an appearance on Ayesha’s Food Network show) but stays close with the Banana Boat wives. My evidence is empirical, but attendance from the Wrights seems to ensure a turn up. Congratulations to the Arizas for winning the friendship of Dorell Wright.
Meanwhile, Barnes’s groomsmen included Kyrie, Justin Holiday, and John Henson. Steve Kerr’s unsung hero Andre Iguodala gave a speech. If the now-famous LeBron parody is any indication, Curry was having a ball and uniting all. But without top WAG Ayesha (who was back in Oakland), is he as valuable?
Barnes’s best glue guy was Kent Bazemore, who was more fun as a wildly emotive Warriors cheerleader than as an overpaid Hawks starter. Baze got a solid turnout for his own wedding earlier in the summer (which featured Richard Jefferson as a groomsman), but there’s no evidence that he did more than serve as an unofficial videographer via his Instagram story.
3. Star Power
Based on my research of the #HBee2017 hashtag on Instagram (great hashtag!), it looks like Barnes recruited the following players from his North Carolina, Golden State, and Dallas teams: Irving, Curry, Iguodala, Bogut, Thompson, Henson, Holiday, Bazemore, James Michael McAdoo, Wesley Matthews, Devin Harris, Kendall Marshall, and Dwight Powell. That’s 13 — impressive. (Side note: Where was Seth Curry? Invited and declined, or not invited? He surely could have stopped in with his brother on the way back from Asia.)
Ariza’s number of players is lower. By my count, he wrangled Paul, Wright, Harden, and Al Harrington. Thanks to Harden, he got Travis Scott to perform. Per Mia Wright’s Instagram story, Scott announced it was his first wedding, though he didn’t specify if he meant ever or performing at one.
Based on his tone, it seems this was his first time ever attending a ceremony dedicated to a (hopefully) forever relationship, and to commemorate the night, he brought his current girlfriend, Kylie Jenner.
Do wedding guests like a live performance? It’s an undeniable flex for the hosts, but weddings are about dancing to covers of crowd favorites until someone commandeers an aux cord and plays "Single Ladies" while a circle forms around the no-longer-single bride. It’s a matter of taste, so this one is a draw.
4. Strength of Registry
The Barnes couple registered only at Williams-Sonoma, asking for reasonable and functional housewares. They selected a lovely dark gray for their Le Creuset collection. However, there are only 19 items on here, and they had many more guests than this. They must have had a private site with other options, or they are asking their guests to get creative in addition to traveling to Rhode Island. That’s a lot.
The Arizas have far more options, with registries at four different stores. Their wants include three separate mirrored makeup holders from Pottery Barn and a candy dispenser from Gearys of Beverly Hills. There are several kinds of coasters on the lists, too, so they must be planning on entertaining. The gifts will ultimately benefit the guests!
Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island (the Barnes venue), comes with the Martha Stewart stamp of approval. The Monarch Beach Resort (Ariza) comes with a Real Housewives of Orange County cosign. Both receptions were inside, which is better for acoustics anyway. It’s a classic East Coast vs. West Coast disparity. The Barneses went for an extremely upscale and classy version of a regular person’s basic wedding, while the Arizas selected a location primed for TV. Neither was particularly original. Ultimately, Harrison and Brittany selected a location otherwise outside of the NBA universe, and they win for expanding their world.
Winner: The Barnes Wedding
The Arizas wedding looked lovely, but the presence of a Kardashian-Jenner sister is ominous. At the same time, having a two-time MVP and a gossip MVP at one’s wedding is an unfair advantage. Harrison Barnes’s wedding is written into NBA lore by virtue of Kyrie’s presence. It’s part of the Kyrie trade narrative, and it has altered Steph’s image, even if just slightly. May the Barnes marriage be as happy as their wedding was noteworthy.