Fame is abundant this weekend.
The NBA All-Star Game not only draws the world’s greatest basketball players, but also some of the biggest names in music, movies and television.
Many of their recognizable faces will be staring in the mirror and looking back at one man, New Orleans’ own, barber Calvin Doherty. The man affectionately known as “Fat Cal," best identified for his role in crafting the hair of Pelicans’ superstar Anthony Davis, will be one of the busiest men in the Big Easy this weekend.
He just hopes he has the time to get to everyone.
“Oh, it’s going to be crazy,” Doherty said. “I’ve got a deal to take care of everybody who is with the Jordan Brand and I know I’ve got movie stars and musicians and whole bunch of people who I told when I get off of work there, I can go take care of them. It’s going to be real huge. It’s going to be a whole lot of everything.”
Jordan Brand includes basketball stars Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Dwyane Wade, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler among many other household names. Some of their hair will be in Doherty’s hands.
“It’s a lot of guys everyone is looking at,” Doherty said. “It’s a big job.”
It’s a far cry from the rigors Doherty endured while picking up the pieces of his life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where he lost nearly everything, including his first hair-cutting business. Doherty briefly shifted into debris removal during the height of the city’s recovery, before eventually returning to his passion, opening up his own barber shop.
Even now, this glut of stars in his hometown doesn’t represent a typical weekend for the owner and operator of Kreative Hands on MacArthur Boulevard in Algiers. He’s still cutting hair for his neighbors, friends and family.
However, these kinds of star-studded moments are becoming an increasingly normal part of Doherty’s reality, since he’s regarded as the most reliable hairstylist amongst New Orleans’ NBA players, particularly Davis.
The pair became fast friends over the past three years. Doherty now spends more time alongside Davis than he does over his shoulders.
While Doherty still crafts Davis’ well-known cut, highlighted by a curling racing stripe of sorts over the right side of his famed eyebrow, they’re far closer than a simple client-to-customer relationship.
You’re just as likely to find Davis and Doherty on vacation as around the barber’s chair. The pair travel the country together in the summer, spend hours hanging out and Doherty even taught Davis how to fish.
“I bring him out there fishing on my boat and he said he likes it because it gives him some peace of mind,” Doherty said. “He said he really enjoyed it. But he doesn’t want to touch no fish. He’s even scared to put the bait on the line. I have do all of that for him. I tell him he’s got to learn, and he said he won’t.”
It’s the kind of back-and-forth Doherty said he’s grown to appreciate in Davis. The pair crack jokes at each other’s expense, not concerned with their status in society or zeroes in their bank accounts. Beyond the fame and trappings of luxury, Doherty says he’s added a lifelong friend, despite their different worlds and day jobs.
“Oh, they’re like family, him and Cal,” Pelicans point guard Tim Frazier said. “AD is always with his family, but guys like Cal and them have really become a part of who he is and are part of what he’s about in New Orleans.”
It’s more than Doherty could have pictured when he spent his teenage years with scissors and hair clippers in his hands.
But everything changed when then-Hornets superstar Chris Paul reached out to Doherty shortly after he opened his business in 2007. And a skeptical Doherty believed the whole episode was a practical joke.
“I didn’t think it was really him because he was Chris Paul,” Doherty said. “Then I just wanted to test him and said, ‘Oh yeah Chris Paul, you really want a haircut, then where should I go?.' He told me he was staying at the Loews Hotel and I actually showed up, and it was actually him who was there.
“Chris got me started and between him and AD, I think by now I’ve just about everybody’s hair in the NBA, whether they played here or were just coming here to play the Pelicans.”
And it culminates this All-Star Weekend in his own city.
There will be many recognizable faces strewn across New Orleans over the next several days, but few will be as in demand as Doherty.
“I never thought in a million years I’d be doing anything like this and going the places I’ve gotten to go,” he said. “But I love it and I’m blessed.”