By David Josselsohn
I couldn’t care less about the NBA having players wear uniforms with nicknames on them. This comes down to one thing and one thing only: money. The NBA is looking at the opportunity to sell a “King James” LeBron jersey, and if they could pull this off, it could really be a lucrative deal. Every player that participates in this will now have a new jersey that fans will want to buy. It’s brilliant business. The NBA has been losing money in the last few years and has even considered selling advertisements on jerseys to raise revenue, so this seems to be their alternative to that. Whether or not it keeps the integrity of the game can be debated.
Personally, I don’t care. I’m not going to go out and buy a new Carmelo Anthony jersey because it says “Melo” on the back. In terms of gameplay, unless you’re shelling out the big bucks to sit courtside at an NBA game or have a really good pair of binoculars, what the back of a jersey says is pretty inconsequential to you.
One funny thing I would add, though, is that Brook Lopez is apparently going to have the back of jersey say “Brooklyn,” in a play on words of where he plays and his first name. I commend Lopez and his creativity, and I’m sure the NBA and its marketing team will as well.
By Ben Glassman
The possibility of the NBA releasing “nickname uniforms” next season is ridiculous. Even if the uniforms are only worn in one or two games this season, it will set a precedent that will be terrible for the NBA as a league. If Miami and Brooklyn are allowed to wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys for a couple games this year, where will the NBA draw the line next year? Will every team have the opportunity to wear the jerseys at some point in the season? Allowing players to pick nicknames and prominently wear them all night causes the game to focus on the individual and not the team.
Granted, it would be hilarious to see Tim Duncan take the floor with “The Big Fundamental” slapped on his back, but if the NBA isn’t careful, it could lose legitimacy fast. The league worked hard to do a complete image overhaul from the early 2000s to today. A league once known for icons like the “Malice at the Palace,” Steven Jackson and Ron Artest has finally become associated with suit-donning, well-spoken players like
LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Nicknames certainly won’t undo all that progress, but it is clearly a step in the wrong direction. While it may add some level of entertainment, nicknames on the backs of jerseys will, to a degree, diminish that aspect of professionalism for which the league has worked so hard.
By Charlie Enberg
I can’t speak for everyone, but I am really excited for these new nickname jerseys to be displayed. I would have killed to have the back of my high school lacrosse jersey read “Charizard” (laugh all you want) and I am sure the NBA players feel the same way. But the fans also have reason to celebrate because not only do they get to see their favorite player wearing his nickname, but they can also buy that jersey at the store. I know I will be there the first day Dick’s Sporting Goods comes out with a LeBron jersey that reads “King James” on the back.
Aside from benefiting the fans and players, the league itself will also benefit because jersey sales will increase and there will be more viewers during games where these jerseys are showcased. It’s a win-win situation.
So what are some of the arguments against this idea? Well, one of the most common refutations is that it takes away from the integrity of the game or deviates from tradition. Really? At the end of the day, it doesn’t affect the way the game is actually played: quarters are still 12 minutes, the Lakers are still from Los Angeles and Kobe can still drain a fadeaway three- pointer with two men on him. The only difference is that his jersey will say “Black Mamba” instead of Bryant.
The only question that remains is: How many players will wear these nickname jerseys? Ideally, it would only be the marquee players, because if Jan Vesely uses a nickname instead of his last name, no one would know who he is.
By Dylan Pulver
I am split on the “nickname” jersey idea. I absolutely love it for guys like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, who have nicknames that fans and the media use often and can easily connect to. The name switch would not only be a nice creative touch to add to the already thrilling game, but possibly a pull for the younger generation. Names like “King James” and Dwayne Wade’s “Flash” would lead kids to think these guys are so good that they have superpowers. In addition, I have no doubt that nickname jerseys of superstar players would sell very well. However, it’s when we get to the lesser-known names that I have a problem. Because most lesser-known basketball players do not have widely-used nicknames, fans may not be able to identify these players by any nickname. For example, Miami Heat forward Shane Battier, who himself is not that supportive of the jersey idea, would likely use the name “Shaneo,” which, although it is connectable to “Shane,” has almost never been used by fans or the media to refer to Battier.
If I had to say yes or no to the idea, I would support it. My only requirement would be that either players had the option to use a nickname or not, or that the NBA designated which players would wear these jerseys and appropriate nicknames for those players.