The NBA is exploring the idea of putting nicknames on the backs of jerseys for Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets players in at least one of their match-ups this season. The “nickname jerseys” would feature names like “King James” on the back of LeBron James’s jersey or “Shuttlesworth” on the back of Ray Allen’s jersey in reference to his “He Got Game” character “Jesus Shuttlesworth.”
The move is sure to please the youth culture surrounding the league, but might leave purists more skeptical. Ray Allen voiced support for the idea saying, “It shows growth in our league and it shows we do adapt to what’s going on around us.” However, former UNC standout and current Phoenix Sun Kendall Marshall voiced his opposition on twitter saying, “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.”
This would not be the first time the NBA has used jerseys as a means of outreach to segments of their fan base. In 2006, the NBA launched the Noche Latina program that featured jerseys with team names that appeared as spoken by the Spanish-language TV and radio announcers. The jerseys feature names like “El Heat” and “Los Spurs.” Regardless of opinion, the “nickname jerseys” are sure to be big seller’s among the young fan base of the league.