The NBA recently announced that it is considering allowing the members of the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets to wear “nickname jerseys” during one (or more) of their games together.
No more James, Wade, Garnett or Pierce. Instead “King James”, “Flash”, “Big Ticket” and “The Truth” will be worn.
Kobe Bryant told ESPN’s, business insider, Darren Rovell that “I think it gives players a great opportunity to frame their brand by picking a name that tells their story or further communicates what they represent.”
From the NBA’s point-of-view, the nickname jerseys could help sell more jerseys, create a buzz around the new Heat-Nets rivalry and further market their stars.
Star power has been a staple of Commissioner David Stern’s NBA, since he took over the league in 1984.
Now this apparently.
This may do all of the aforementioned things for the NBA, but from a coach’s standpoint, this is a nightmare.
First, this attempts to even further support the NBA notion that it is a star league and the stars run their organizations.
Secondly, it creates an even large schism between stars and non-stars in the game. How do you ask? Well, who decides who gets nicknames? I mean James and Wade have notable nicknames, geez, I guess even Mario Chalmers is called “Super Mario.” But what about Udonis Haslem? Norris Cole? Shane Battier? They don’t have nicknames so they should not get a nickname jersey.
Honestly, can you imagine Battier, one of the most revered players in Duke basketball history having one of these jerseys? , Battier played for Coach K, the USA Basketball Head Coach, is the personification of team sports and team building. Battier learned from the best in team sports. Battier’s game is centered around hitting clutch 3pt shots, grabbing some rebounds and taking charges for his team. The notion of Battier with a nickname jersey is, quite frankly, comical.
Nickname jersey’s would not happen in the NCAA or high school basketball. It would be a money issue for the cost of jerseys for some programs and the fact that most players are not good enough to have a nickname. Not to mention, college or high school players are not mature enough to handle them. Especially, if some players had nicknames while others did not. Or maybe all NCAA players would have to have a nickname jersey because it would be seen as an extra benefit if one player did and another didn’t.
I mean just think of the nicknames the athletic department of Bethune Cookman could come up with for their 14th man!
Most coaches cringe at the nickname jersey idea, including NBA coaches. The jerseys seem to focus on the “I” of the player and not the “we” of the team, something that all basketball coaches, especially NBA coaches battle with constantly.
However, with the marketing research done and the buzz already out there and fans (i.e. kids and 45 year old “men” who still wear jerseys) are lining up to buy the new Ray Allen a.k.a. “Shuttlesworth” jersey, I am sure this will be an idea that will not only occur but will most likely take over the entire league at some point.
I can’t wait to get my O.J. Mayo, MIlwaukee Bucks jersey…I hope he doesn’t use the nickname “The Juice”. That one has already been taken.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo