Posted September 24, 2013

Photos: What would NBA’s proposed ‘nickname jerseys’ look like?

Ben Golliver, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker
(NBA.com)

The NBA is planning to introduce “nickname jerseys,” like these looks for the Heat’s LeBron James. (NBA.com)

The NBA reportedly has plans to introduce “nickname jerseys” for a select few games during the 2013-14 season.

The Associated Press reports that Miami and Brooklyn have been identified as teams that could potentially wear the uniforms, which would sport a player’s preferred nickname rather than his last name.

Some members of the Miami 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 NBA has not announced the plan, but teams apparently have been aware of the likelihood of it happening for at least several weeks.

“It shows growth in our league and it shows we do adapt to what’s going on around us,” said [Ray] 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.”
Players were asked to submit what names they would want on the jerseys.

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James is expected to wear “King James.”

Marketing gimmicks don’t get much more shameless than this, and the nickname jersey is pretty much the perfect wedge issue to differentiate NBA fans into “purist” and “new-school” groups. Traditionalists will react in horror, much as they did when the Warriors unveiled their sleeved jerseys last season; more open-minded observers will assert that the move is all in good fun, and it will appear to the league’s younger fans.

Count me among the simplicity-seeking, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” crowd, but it’s worth taking a gander at what these “nickname jerseys” would look like if they do indeed come to fruition. Below, find a gallery of The Point Forward’s Top 10 players of 2014, with possible “nickname jerseys” options for each player. The jerseys were created using the NBA.com Store’s custom jersey tool.

Note: the jersey design tool currently does not allow numbers or hyphens within last names and limits all names to 12 characters. Obviously, nicknames like “CP3″ and “D12″ would not have the numbers spelled out.

It doesn’t take much play-testing to realize that this concept works way, way better with players that have well-established, quick nicknames. As much as it pains me to admit this, substituting “Melo” for Anthony or “Vino” for Bryant doesn’t look terrible. The same concept works for Spanish players like Ricky Rubio or Marc Gasol, who might prefer to go soccer-style and use their first names as they do for the Spanish National Team.

The nickname jersey look is less successful for guys who are using only initials — “KD” or “TP” — or have long nicknames, a la Duncan’s “Big Fundamental.” It kind of works for “CP3″ and “D12,” assuming the numerals are used rather than spelling out the numbers. It’s not a home run, though, simply because the numbers are already right below the name. Kinda redundant.

Finally, for a guy like Russell Westbrook who still lacks a go-to moniker, the concept is a total bust. The Oklahoman has pushed to nickname him “Wolverine” and Kevin Durant once joked that he calls his teammate “Sasha Fierce,” but those names clearly fall flat here because they aren’t synonymous with the All-Star point guard. Westbrook might actually be best served here by simply going without a name above his number; that actually seems like something he might do, just to be different.

The hit/miss ratio for this concept isn’t great, even from this sample of the very biggest and most famous superstars. That’s before we get started down the obvious slippery slopes: “Should third-string point guards even be allowed to participate in this gimmick?” and “How often does a nickname actually have to be used, and by how many people, for it to be considered a legitimate nickname?”

One last thought: Would this concept work better with retired legends? Add “Dr. J” to a Sixers jersey, or “Air” to a Bulls jersey, or “Big O” to a Bucks jersey, or “Shaq” to a Lakers jersey, or “Glide” to a Blazers jersey, or “Mailman” to a Jazz jersey, and maybe that becomes a cool twist on the retro concept? Then again, maybe not. At least all the nicknames on that list are instantly recognizable, as they have been vetted by the passage of time.

18 comments
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

Only if i can order a "Frozen One" jersey..... inclosing 

Tebow Rules... he just wasn't given the opportunity in the right system and if the sun rose at the exact time Timothy Richard needed it to, Tebow would have been a super star in the NFL

- Skip Bayless

mrubock
mrubock

As if the NBA wasn't gimmicky enough...

Mike26
Mike26

When you're the #4 professional sports league in the country, desperate times comes fo desperate measures

M20
M20

This will probably look terrible, and yet I find that I don't really care. Let them look stupid. Let stupid fans buy their jerseys.

FrenchConnection
FrenchConnection

Are they going to put David West's nicknames on his jersey? Because I think that I would buy a BAMF jersey.

Bucky182
Bucky182

As if the NBA isn't already enough of a "me first" league the way it is. Back to football.

KnowYourHistory
KnowYourHistory

The idea of nicknames on the back of NBA jerseys has been done before. 40 years ago, the San Diego/Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and the Baltimore Bullets had the nicknames of certain players sewn onto the back of their jerseys. The Rockets ‘ Elvin Hayes had a capital letter E in quotes sewn onto his jersey instead of his last name. This was also done for him when he was traded to the Baltimore Bullets. The Bullets also had Pearl on the back of Earl Monroe’s jerseyand Wes on Wes Unseld’s jersey.The Hawks had Bells on Walt Bellamy’s jersey and Pistol in quotes on Pete Maravich’s jersey. I also believe that the Cincinnati Royals/Kansas City Kings had Tiny on the back of Nate Archibald’s jersey.

The Cleveland Browns were the first, and maybe only, NFL team to have a players’ nickname on the back of a jersey when Joe “Turkey” Jones had Turkey screened onto on the nameplate on the back of his jersey instead of his last name about 1972.

What is old is suddenly new again.

6marK6
6marK6

It is official, all professional sports teams are there for merchandising and nothing else. 

_broadwayjoe
_broadwayjoe

Are they forcing the players to accede to this crummy idea? While I have no question this is right up the alley for the likes of pompous players like LeBron James, I have a hard time believing players like Derrick Rose would want to be involved in something so self-aggrandizing.

RobertJacke
RobertJacke

LaBron new jersey should say La Flop

bambam824
bambam824

Dumbest idea I've EVER heard of. The NBA is turning into Halloween Clowns with the idea of "nicknamed" jerseys. The heat might as well wear "joey crawford" jerseys.

glennr1981
glennr1981

What about a "Honey nut Cheerios" jersey for Melo or a "G-L-O-R-I-A"! Gloria!"(said in the style of the classic Van Morrison song) Jersey for Delonte West?