Nicknames are everywhere in basketball.
They pop up in every discussion of the NBA's all-time greats. They're used everywhere from the hardwood to the blacktop, under the glare of the brightest lights or the faint glow of a distant streetlight.
Broadcasters keep them in their back pocket. Fans recycle them in the public forum or change them even as they see fit.
So it seems fitting, even if a bit foreign, that they'll reportedly pop up on the backs of NBA jerseys in the 2013-14 season.
Team sources told Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick that the league has discussed replacing last names with nicknames on one of the Miami Heat's alternative jerseys this season. The Associated Press has learned that the Brooklyn Nets are also a candidate for this experiment, with both teams donning the official customized threads "in at least one of their four matchups this season."
Sounds a bit crazy, right? Sort of like having NBA jerseys with sleeves on them. The Golden State Warriors broke the ice on that trend last season, and HoopsWorld.com's Steve Kyler has reported that 20 teams will rock sleeved jerseys at least once this year.
If the league finds marketing gold in this nickname plan, it's only a matter of time before the idea catches fire.
So that got us thinking, which nickname jerseys would we like to see the most in 2013-14? With so many larger-than-life stars enjoying larger-than-life monikers, there's no shortage of fantastic options.
Dwyane Wade would have a spot inside the top 10 if I had any confidence that he'd go with his classic "Flash" nickname.
Granted, at 31 years old and with a growing list of knee problems, the name doesn't fit his style of play as well as it used to do.
At one time, Wade was a lightning bolt of energy with the quickness to recover on any play and the hops to spend entire games above the rim.
He's slowed down considerably over time. Right now we're lucky if we catch a "Flash" of vintage Wade in between stretches of his Father Time-influenced old man game: A steady diet of mid-range jumpers and post isolations.
There's also the presence of Wade's other nicknames muddling this up a bit. I'd be tempted to buy a "Flash" jersey, but wouldn't think twice about a "W.o.W." (Way of Wade) uniform.
Dwight Howard is in dire need of an image overhaul.
His prolonged exit from the Orlando Magic and subsequent one-year disaster with the Los Angeles Lakers battered and bruised what was once one of the league's brightest reputations.
Now surrounded by competent shooters and a rising star in James Harden with the Houston Rockets, Howard seems poised to reclaim his perch atop the league's big men.
If not for possible copyright issues restricting his use of the "Superman" nickname, he'd be somewhere higher on this list.
As it is, though, his "D12" jersey would be among the league's best sellers by season's end. With the support of both his new fans in Houston and the ones who will claim they never left his side, anything Howard related will be a hot commodity over the coming months.
Unfortunately, the league office wouldn't be rushing to get this jersey on the racks.
Anything San Antonio Spurs related is going to be grossly underappreciated, which isn't exactly an ideal trait of any marketing strategy.
But I, for one, would proudly rock Tim Duncan's "The Big Fundamental" duds at any and every opportunity.
There is no more appropriate nickname in the hoops world, maybe not even across the broad spectrum of professional sports. From his polished, mechanical movements on the low block to the perfect spin he uses to kiss shots off the glass, his game film looks more like an instructional hoops DVD.
To common fans he's just boring old Duncan, the guy who never met a play he couldn't sap the excitement out of. To basketball junkies that have witnessed his meteoric rise up all the all-time ranks, though, he's greatness personified.
When's the last time you heard anyone talking about Chris Andersen?
NBA reserves rarely earn national nicknames, but once they stick they're around for good. Just ask Brian Cardinal or, as you may know him, "The Custodian."
A "Birdman" jersey is intriguing if only for the options you have to accessorize the look. The headband is a must, so too is the mohawk if you're really a fan.
And you know those wing tattoos you've been dying to fill your upper arms with? Well, here's your excuse.
There are nicknames that fit, nicknames that stick and then DeMarcus Cousins' "Boogie" label.
From his game to his maturity level, the name works on so many different levels.
Seeing a 6'11", 270-pounder with his kind of moves, there's no better way to describe his game but to say that he boogies with the basketball. His combination of size and strength leaves him dancing across the hardwood on a nightly basis.
But with that flair comes drama, too. Plenty of it. He's finished with an unenviable top-five ranking in technical foul calls in each of his three NBA seasons.
The nickname seems best suited for a kid. And that makes it a perfect label for the league's largest man-child.
You can't have the grit-and-grind of the Memphis Grizzlies without "The Grindfather," can you?
The Grizzlies certainly didn't think so. Rather than let their defensive savant escape their grips on the open market, Memphis re-signed the three-time All-Defensive performer to a four-year, $20 million contract this summer.
Allen is making a compelling case for having the best nickname in the business. He's tough, physical, relentless—everything you imagine someone with that name to be.
I picture Memphis' locker room set up like any good mafia safehouse.
The muscle (Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph) controlling who comes and who goes. The quiet, observant guys (Mike Conley and Tayshaun Prince) keeping watch of everyone inside. And then Allen, the unchallenged leader, leaning back in his chair with his feet resting comfortably on top of the biggest desk in the room.
On the court or away from it, I can't imagine Allen without a little "Grindfather" in his demeanor.
Paul Pierce's realities have changed this summer.
The former Boston Celtics lifer has traded his green and whites for the Brooklyn Nets' classic black-and-white look. He's gone from being option No. 1 to likely scrounging for scraps behind, at the least, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez.
Amid all these changes, though, don't expect Pierce to lose one of the best nicknames of his generation—"The Truth."
We don't know how he'll fit into Mikhail Prokhorov's nine-figure puzzle. Or whether he'll have the opportunity to avoid setting a new basement for his scoring numbers (his career low is 16.5, set during his rookie season in 1998-99).
But we do know that he'll be there when his team needs him the most. That's what 15 years of truths have taught us.
Throughout his 18-year NBA career, Kevin Garnett has always produced must-see television.
Early on, he was an athletic freak unlike anything the league had ever seen. With size for the interior (6'11") and speed for the perimeter, the former preps-to-pros star was a leading draw for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
A little older and a whole lot wiser, Garnett then demanded attention for his intensity and fiery competitive spirit during his time with the Boston Celtics. Just try to watch his "Anything Is Possible" rant after the 2008 NBA championship without getting any sort of an emotional reaction.
Now he's moved on the Brooklyn Nets, a 37-year-old in search of one final taste of championship bliss.
He is "The Big Ticket" no matter how you slice his nickname. Always has been, always will be.
Even the haters would have trouble passing up the chance to score a "King James" jersey.
Whatever fans LeBron James lost for joining the Miami Heat in 2010, he's recovered and then some over the last two seasons. Two MVP awards, two Finals MVP honors, a pair of championship rings and an Olympic gold medal are more than enough justification for his exit from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He is the greatest player in the game today, a title he's solidified since his South Beach excursion.
After a failed run as the NBA's villain in 2010-11, he's come to peace with the fans' reactions and allowed himself to have fun playing basketball again.
It's a good thing he has, too. I'm not sure even the staunchest of James' supporters would be willing to wear the "He Hate Me" jersey that the four-time MVP would have been forced into had he never made it back from the dark side.
Every Kobe Bryant jersey makes for a classic look. It doesn't matter if you're talking about his current No. 24 threads, his old No. 8 duds or even the No. 33 he rocked during his days at Philadelphia's Lower Merion High School.
Even now, Bryant would have a couple of choices to make for this new uniform concept. And, naturally, he couldn't go wrong either way.
Most fans probably envision Bryant going the simple route and stretching his "Black Mamba" nickname across his back.
But I'd look elsewhere if I was him. The "Vino" nickname works so well to define the way he's embraced the clenching hands of Father Time, that it would be my go-to choice if given the option.
Besides, he could still have the best of both worlds. He could go with "Vino" when the Lakers go with their classic purple-and-gold unis, then opt for "Black Mamba" when L.A. debuts its new black Hollywood Nights look.
Derrick Rose doesn't have a flashy nickname.
But the simple "D-Rose" label works for the head of a blue-collar franchise like the Chicago Bulls. Besides, its marketability, or lack thereof, hasn't kept him from securing one of the richest endorsement deals in basketball history.
Not to mention how easily it rolls off the tongue for no-nonsense coach Tom Thibodeau. Can you imagine if he'd been peppered with questions about "The Black Mamba" or "Boogie" for the entire 2012-13 season?
But this has less to do with wanting to see a "D-Rose" jersey and more to do with simply seeing a healthy Rose back in action.
He hasn't logged any NBA minutes since the 37 he played before tearing his ACL back on April 28, 2012.
His return is long overdue at this point. And if it comes with a nickname on his jersey, that's even better.