Tunnel fit (noun): a pregame outfit worn by an NBA player.
The term “tunnel fit” was coined in response to the ever-growing amount of lavish and sleek outfits players wear on their walk through the arena tunnel and into the locker room when arriving at a facility before a game.
For example, LeBron James sported a Gucci jacket, a $3,980 addition to his ensemble. Or maybe Jayson Tatum in his Burberry puffer, priced at $1,720. Some players have opted for a humbler outfit, such as Devon Booker wearing a $55 minimalist hoodie from Amazon.
Entire social media accounts have been made to share and showcase these gameday getups, with one of the more popular profiles, @leaguefits, having amassed 784K followers and a blue check on Instagram.
Moral of the story: Whether the tunnel fit is off the runway or off the rack, they get people talking.
Enter Coby White.
A UNC basketball alumnus, White left Chapel Hill following his freshman season and headed to Chicago after he was picked seventh in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. He hung up Carolina Blue for Bulls’ red and donned the #0 jersey for his new team.
After a successful rookie season, White is now in his third season with the Bulls, where he is an important member of the playing rotation as a consistent starter.
But that’s just basketball. What about his tunnel fits?
White has typically opted for a more relaxed outfit and is often seen in a hoodie and sweats. However, his hoodies usually come with a statement.
In October 2021, his hoodie read “1 in 8” in vibrant pink type which represented the 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. In January, he voiced his concern for the 820 homicides that rocked Chicago in 2021 with the back of his hoodie reading “stop gun violence.”
This month, White is fine-tuning his style and using his tunnel fits to highlight Black History Month by focusing on “Black creatives and related times in history that aren’t always mentioned.”
White has recruited two North Carolina A&T student designers, Jaylen Brannon (@jay2kool) and Quintin Evans (@queue_edits), to design his hoodies for every home game during the season. N.C. A&T is the largest HBCU in the country, and this partnership accentuates White’s mission to showcase the work of Black creatives.
His hoodies, so far, have focused on figures like Aaron Douglas, Paul Robeson and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as spotlighted moments and places in Black history like the Harlem Renaissance and the Cotton Club.
After White is photographed wearing his hoodie in the United Center tunnel, he takes to his Instagram (@cobywhite) to provide historical context to his followers.
His captions are usually multiple paragraphs long and dive into great detail. Each photo garners thousands of likes and multiple comments, many of them thanking White for his dedication and deeming him an inspiration.
NBA players have large platforms — that fact is undeniable. However, where some use their fan following, stardom and wealth to be flashy, others like White have recognized there should be some responsibility and ownership that comes with the job.
In his Feb. 6 post, one comment, in particular, seems to sum up the “why” behind White’s hoodie campaign perfectly. It read, “I never knew that history. Thank you for sharing.”
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