Jared McCain & his delightful flamboyance stole the show at the NBA Draft

Jared McCain & his delightful flamboyance stole the show at the NBA Draft

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Adam Silver and Jared McCain at the NBA Draft.

It didn’t take long for Jared McCain to become the face his NBA team’s TikTok account. The Philadelphia 76ers selected the nail-painting Duke standout Wednesday with the No. 16 overall pick in the NBA Draft, and immediately put him to work.

With a smooth stroke and scoring prowess, McCain enters the league with a lot of promise. Sixers general manager Daryl Morey predicted the guard will be with the team for a “long time,” and said he was a top-10 player on their board.

Draft gurus, including Duke legend Jay Biles, love the pick as well. “He’s one of the hardest workers you’re ever gonna see and he’s got an infectious personality,” said Bilas. “And a spirit and an attitude that you just frankly don’t see that often.”

On the court, Bilas called McCain an “ultra-competitive shooter,” and lauded him as “tough, physical and very strong.”

He’s also… very charismatic! The proof is in the dancing.

McCain first arrived on our radar early this year, when he showed off his holiday nail choice. The McDonald’s All-American says he started painting his fingernails a couple of years ago, and hasn’t stopped.

“I mean, at an early age I’ve always been told to just be myself, like I’m always just gonna be myself,” he told Complex. “As for the painted nails, I saw it during [lockdown] and I just started doing it. I never saw anything wrong with it like. I understand girls do it. I understand men have started to do it a little more recently, but it was just something I saw and I like to get manicures and pedicures. I take care of my body.”

On Thursday, McCain added more context to his manicure habit. He was inspired by veteran Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson.

Though McCain mostly painted his nails blue at Duke, he defaulted to black for the Draft. The Sixers’ colors, for what it’s worth, are blue, white and red.

McCain is one of several Gen Z sports stars who unapologetically flouts gender norms–while dominating the game. Chicago Bears QB Caleb Williams also showed up to the NFL Draft with his signature painted nails, and was selected No. 1 overall.

Boston Red Sox slugger Triston Casas loves his mani pedis, too. He uses the ritual as an opportunity to bond with his mom.

Though McCain has never talked about his orientation, it’s apparent the California native doesn’t mind if dopes on social media call him “gay.” Leaning into his flamboyancy, he recently signed a deal with beauty brand Sally Hansen.

“I think everyone should do self-care for themselves. For me, it’s nail painting,” he said. “I’m sorry if that offends any of you guys… I thought it looked nice and I know a lot of people disagree. A lot of people don’t like it. I’m just going to be myself and do what I think looks nice.”

McCain also enjoys a partnership with SKIMS, the shape wear company founded by Kim Kardashian.

We’ve come a long way from the days of Troy Aikman raging over sportswriter Skip Bayless speculating whether he’s gay. McCain enjoyed an incredible freshman season at Duke, tying Zion Williamson’s freshman scoring record in a single game and draining the most 3-pointers in a contest. He shined during the NCAA Tournament, making March Madness history with 30 points and 0 turnovers.

In other words, McCain knows he can play. He’s taking full advantage of his platform, and just having fun.

“No words can even describe this feeling,” he said Thursday. “All your hard work is about to pay off. I’m about to be drafted.”

While squeaky homophobes always make noise, the vast majority of 76ers fans appear to be embracing McCain. It’s hard not to!

His imitation of Killers frontman Brandon Flowers is… the best cover we’ve ever heard?

Oh, and those highlights at the end are pretty good, too. It looks like the Sixers landed themselves a manicured assassin!

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