Editorial: The Silent Meaning of Coby White’s Tunnel Corresponds
Tunnel cut (noun): a pre-game outfit worn by an NBA player.
The term “tunnel fit” was coined in response to the ever-increasing number of plush and stylish outfits that players wear while walking through the arena tunnel and into the locker room when arriving at a facility before a game.
For example, LeBron James wore a Gucci jacket, a $3,980 addition to his ensemble. Or maybe Jayson Tatum in his Burberry bouffant, priced at $1,720. Some players opted for a more humble outfit, like Devon Booker wearing a $55 minimalist hoodie from Amazon.
Entire social media accounts have been created to share and showcase these game outfits, with one of the most popular profiles, @leaguefits, having amassed 784,000 followers and a blue tick on Instagram.
Moral of the story: whether the tunnel fit is off-road or off-road, they get people talking.
Enter Coby White.
Alumnus of UNC basketball, White left Chapel Hill after his freshman season and headed to Chicago after being picked seventh in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. He hung up Carolina Blue for Red of the Bulls and donned the No. 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 generally opted for a more casual outfit and is often seen in a hoodie and sweats. However, his hoodies usually come with a statement.
In October 2021, her hoodie read “1 in 8” in hot pink type, which represented 1 in 8 women diagnosed with cancer in her lifetime. In January, he expressed concern for the 820 homicides that rocked Chicago in 2021 with the back of his hoodie reading “stop gun violence.”
This month, White is honing her style and using her tunnel cuts to mark Black History Month by focusing on “black creations and related periods of history that aren’t always mentioned.”
White enlisted two North Carolina A&T student designers, Jaylen Brannon (@jay2kool) and Quintin Evans (@queue_edits), to design his hoodies for every home game this season. NC A&T is the nation’s largest HBCU, and this partnership furthers White’s mission to showcase the work of black creatives.
So far, his hoodies have focused on the likes of Aaron Douglas, Paul Robeson, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as moments and places in black history like the Harlem Renaissance and the Cotton Club. .
After White was photographed wearing his hoodie in the United Center tunnel, he takes to his Instagram (@cobywhite) to provide historical context for his followers.
His captions are usually several paragraphs long and dive into the smallest details. Each photo garners thousands of likes and multiple comments, many of which thank White for his dedication and consider him inspirational.
NBA players have big platforms – that fact is undeniable. However, where some use their fans, fame and wealth to be flashy, others like White recognized that there should be some responsibility and ownership that comes with the job.
In his Feb. 6 post, one comment, in particular, seems to perfectly sum up the “why” behind White’s hoodie campaign. He said: “I never knew this story. Thank you for sharing.”
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