|"King James" could soon make its way to the back of a Miami Heat jersey. (nba.si.com)|
The NBA is about superstars. It is also about the money, like any other successful business. The league is considering yet another way to capitalize on player stardom to sell more jerseys; putting the players' nicknames on the back of the jerseys.
NBA.com posted a story from the Associated Press on its website late Monday night that the league may replace Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets players' last name with their nicknames on the back of the jerseys for one of the teams' four head-to-head matchups. For example, LeBron's jersey would say "King James," Paul Pierce would have "The Truth," Kevin Garnett "KG," Chris Andersen would be "Birdman" and Ray Allen would have possibly the best of them all with "Jesus Shuttlesworth," in reference to his role in the movie "He Got Game."
Allen was quoted in the AP story saying, "It shows growth in our league and it shows we do adapt to what's going on around us. 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."
Whether for or against the idea, it is sure to sell jerseys, especially with the younger audience. The NBA is the only sport in which nicknames are prevalent, due to the visibility of players and amount of impact players in the league. The NFL and MLB are leagues where the teams are mostly still the focus more than the individual, minus a few elite quarterbacks.
The question will be what will happen for players who don't currently have a nickname? Will they just have their last name on the jersey, or pick a name out themselves? Maybe it could be left to a fan vote? Players might not be thrilled when Greg Oden is forced to have "Crutches" on the back of his jersey, or "Grandpa" for Juan Howard thanks to the fans, but it would be interesting.
This is just the latest step in the evolution of the uniform as a marketing tool for the league, and it surely won't be the last.
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