The NBA and its teams have worked overtime in recent years to come up with fresh new jerseys in the interest of moving more merchandise. There have been special uniforms to honor Latin heritage, rebrands and redesigns, retro reissues and short-sleeved strips, a slew of alternate unis and, in some cases, a little bit of everything. We're not quite yet at the point where every team's uniforms will feature overt sponsorship, but we learned Monday that this season could bring a new wrinkle that some might find even odder than an encroaching logo: players' nicknames.
Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick cited Miami Heat sources in reporting that the team "has discussed" using nicknames to "replace last names above players' numbers on the upper back of one of their alternate jersey styles." The experiment apparently won't be limited to South Beach, though; Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press followed with a report that some members of the Heat "have been told the NBA is considering having them and the Brooklyn Nets wear 'nickname jerseys' in at least one of their four matchups this season." The Heat declined comment to Skolnick, and Reynolds wrote that the NBA "has not announced the plan," though he noted that the Heat and Nets "apparently have been aware of the likelihood of it happening for at least several weeks."
Heat sharpshooter Ray Allen seems kind of into the idea, according to Reynolds:
"It shows growth in our league and it shows we do adapt to what's going on around us," said Allen, the Heat guard who plans to wear Shuttlesworth on his jersey, a nod to his character from the "He Got Game" film. "And we're still kids, playing a kids' game. Even though we're now men playing a kids' game, we still remember where we come from. Everybody had a nickname and it's a way to let the fans in a little bit more." [...]
"Fans will like it and so will a lot of the players," Allen said. "Guys will get a good kick out of it."
Sure, although it'd be cooler if Allen used the first name of the character he played — y'know, the iconic name everybody called him — rather than the last. (Though you can understand why the league might not be too cool with that.)
For fans of those Heat and Nets players with long-held, well-established nicknames that every NBA fan knows — "King James," "The Truth," "K.G." and "Birdman," for example, and maybe "JET," should Jason Terry get off to a better start in Brooklyn than he did for the Boston Celtics last season — this could be cool enough. Some diehards might also appreciate the chance to cop, say, a "U.D." Udonis Haslem jersey, a "AK47" Andrei Kirilenko top or even (gasp!) a "Super Cool Beas" Michael Beasley uni, too. And while I've always thought "D-Will" is kind of a lazy nickname for Deron Williams, I guess I could see someone who's a super-big fan of the Nets point guard being convinced to part ways with hard-earned cash for that jersey.
I'm struggling to believe that there's a huge market for whatever will wind up on the backs of other guys, though. I mean, I might be wrong, but I can't envision lines out the door to pick up a "Rio" Mario Chalmers jersey, you know? And there are several guys on each roster with less claim to a nickname than the Heat point guard, which could mean an awful lot of bad, awkward fits that don't actually stoke fans' interest enough to actually unstock the shelves, which you'd suspect is the whole point of this endeavor in the first place.
And this doesn't even consider the horror show of someone like Dwyane Wade. Reynolds reports that players "were asked to submit what names they would want on the jerseys," which you'd imagine will lead the noted self-nicknamer to insist on having "Three" (ugh), "WoW" (oof) or perhaps something even worse appear between his shoulder blades. (It says something when "D-Wade" and the long-since-discarded "Flash" are your best nickname options. What it says isn't great.)
On the sunnier side of the street, there could be some fun options here amid the not-really-great-at-having-nicknames set. An "Iso-Joe" jersey for Joe Johnson would be fun, but nowhere near as fun as J.E. Skeets-created nonsense-o-nym "The Armadillo Cowboy." Ditto for a "Like a Bosh" uniform, which would be way cooler than "C.B.," so think about it, Chris Bosh.
"Señor Plums" might make people forget Mason Plumlee went to Duke. "Waldo Faldo" would be a good look for Norris Cole. A Greg Oden "Mr. Glass" jersey would be one of the truly great self-aware pieces of NBA clothing in recent memory; if Oden Bynum-ed up and grew his hair out like 2000 Samuel L., it would be one of the most bloggable moments of all time. And while I think I might go for the physically appropriate/"A-Team"-nodding "Face" as his choice, I'm sure that noted creative type Brook Lopez would be able to come up with a funny-book-derived moniker that'd make him happy and all of us laugh.
Unfortunately, there might be an impediment to Lopez mining his beloved DC Universe for jersey ideas — the league's already put a kibosh on a similar idea for a member of the Heat, according to Reynolds:
Miami forward Shane Battier — who wasn't exactly thrilled about the nickname idea — said he wanted to wear "Batman" on his jersey, though was told that Warner Brothers holds the rights to that name, and other players have also had to deal with copyright-related issues with their suggested monikers. Battier said he'll go with "Shaneo" instead.
"Shaneo," huh? Forget what I said about how this could wind up being cool. It's going to be a trainwreck.
If it's a financially lucrative trainwreck, though, it'll almost certainly expand to other teams, much as the bummerific sleeved jerseys are set to expand this season after last year's test balloon. If it does indeed spread throughout the league, which players' nickname jerseys would you most want to add to your collection, and which players do you think would have the worst possible examples? (Within clean, family-bloggin' reason, friends.) Let's hear it in the comments, y'all.