Kings at Play

Kings at Play

There’s something that happens to the mind when its pre-existing doctrines are challenged. It’s almost like a jolt; a fine needle that bursts the bubble of normality and remind us of reality’s one endearing truth; nothing is permanent but change. But there’s nothing wrong in seeking permanence. If consistency is the lock, then labels are the key. Labels keep us comfortable. They keep the playing field stable. America runs on labels. So where does that leave a growing generation of non-conformists? At a perilous impasse battling inner chaos.


I happened to be in Hong Kong in the summer of 2016. At key venues, I received celebrity treatment. Few locals had thought me to be an NBA All Star. Not a single cautionary thought of my legitimacy. All that mattered was my look. It fit the frame; a visual connection to a lifestyle they idolized. That’s the power and danger of labels. When I get asked by strangers if I play basketball, I panic because I realize that I would kill all that excitement with an anticlimactic “NO”. Basketball and Anticlimax were now labelled together in my mind.


Something happened however. A chance job at the gym scorekeeping basketball games kickstarted a whole fold of inspiration. The games were heavy, a sense of urgency prevailed. Willpower and determination were the language and confidence was the dialect. Players were cheered like kings and the audience craved their show of ego. In this facet of life, everyone was a winner by default until end game at least. I had seen a few NBA games but it wasn’t until the intramurals that I saw basketball for the raw celebration of the self that it was.


Basketball is more than just a label. It is a religion. And so is the art of modeling to which I am well versed. It’s all about gloriously rising to the occasion of different roles for the sake of a shared vision. No doubts. No fears. Just pure commitment. A boy’s conquests in the world of fashion should be celebrated no less than his triumphs in sport. Both are kings at play. We can be fierce on the runway and also fierce on the field. Only in exploring fluidity can we gain true empathy and unlock the primal state of our being.


Words by Ikenna Ralph Ugwu

Photos by Evan Schiappa

Creative Directed by Ikenna Ralph Ugwu

Models: JJ Ndubuisi and Donald P

FORM Vol. XXII is now available online on ISSUU. See the Issues tab to read the latest form publication.