NBA Basketball: The ‘nickname’ of the game

With the NBA regular season just weeks away, players and coaches throughout the league are preparing mentally and physically to put their teams into championship contention. The league attitude is filled with focus and determination, with no more room for fun and games.

Players coming back from injuries are doing all they can to reach 100 percent, and other players are shaping their skills and bodies in order to compete at their highest level.

Trades and free agent acquisitions made this offseason have both the NBA and its fans anxious to get the season underway.

Recently, the NBA decided to lighten up the mood a bit. Though the full plan has not been officially announced, the NBA has brought up the idea of allowing the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets to wear nicknames on the backs of their jerseys during one of their four regular season meetings this year.

It is unknown if this trend will follow into any other games, but it should be interesting to watch these players’ backs in this Eastern Conference powerhouse matchup.

From the outset, the idea to let players wear nicknames on their jerseys has been met with criticism. When asked about the proposal, Phoenix Suns point guard Kendall Marshall said, “The nickname makes it more about the individual. It’s still a team sport. Represent your team, your family, and go out there and play.”

Marshall does seem to have a good point; putting nicknames on the backs of players’ jerseys will definitely add to the attention surrounding the game, and might get the players a few more looks from the camera man, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the NBA.

As the attention toward the players grows, so do ticket sales, jersey sales and television deals.

Regardless of how the critics may feel about the idea overall, the NBA has undoubtedly picked the right game to test out their idea.

The star-stacked rosters are filled with many prestigious, interesting and comical nicknames. As you can expect, four-time NBA MVP LeBron James is expected to wear “King James.”

Dwyane Wade has yet to choose from his array of alter egos of “Flash,” “WoW” and “Three,” a nickname for his jersey number and championship tally.

Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce is going to wear “The Truth,” a nickname given to him by Shaquille O’Neal years ago.
Nets’ power forward Kevin Garnett will go by “The Big Ticket.”

Heat guard Mario Chalmers will likely be titled “Super Mario” and if it were not for copyright issues, Shane Battier would have sported “Batman” on the back of his jersey.

Jokes have even been tossed around that Chris Bosh should rock “Boshtrich” because of his commonly mocked appearance that is believed to be similar to an ostrich or bird-like creature.

So, maybe nicknames aren’t always the most flattering. No matter what these players have stitched on their backs when they hit the court, it’s difficult to see how it negatively affects the “team” aspect of the game.

The players will more than likely enter the locker room, have a few laughs while showing off their new titles to one another, then put their jerseys on and not look back again at the nicknames once they’ve hit the hardwood.

After all, the names are on the back of their jerseys, so we shouldn’t have to worry about players stopping midgame to admire themselves.

All jokes aside, implementing nicknames for one game shouldn’t affect the “team first” mentality.

In regard to Marshall’s comments, I think it is clear that LeBron James wearing “King James” on his jersey will not separate the attention surrounding him from the attention surrounding Heat center Joel Anthony any more than it would in any other game.

The superstars of the matchup will receive more attention than the supporting casts, but not due to the nicknames, that’s just how the superstar-driven NBA works.

The best part about this unusual idea is that using nicknames should not affect the outcome of the game in any way, unless the four extra letters on LeBron’s jersey slow him down—but we can assume that isn’t likely. The players will play the game like it is any other, and the additional hype added by the nicknames might even intensify the competition.

Still, it is understandable that some people feel that the nicknames are disrespectful to the players’ families because they are not wearing the family name.

While it makes sense to find this disrespectful, we have to understand that this is only one game, and players have the option to not wear a nickname.

In a time of seriousness, the NBA has attempted to spice up the game for the fans, and I certainly appreciate the effort.

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