NBA Nickname Jerseys Should Become Staple of League Schedule Every Year

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 10:  LeBron James #6, Dwyane Wade #3, Norris Cole #30, Roger Mason Jr. #21, Joel Anthony #50, Chris Andersen #11 and Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat jerseys hang in their locker prior to a game at the Barclays Center on January 10, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Who doesn't want to see more of Jesus Shuttlesworth?

Tonight's game between the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets will look a little different. Where you usually see the last name of each player on the back of the jersey, you'll instead see a nickname.

For example, Ray Allen is wearing "Jesus Shuttlesworth," as a tribute to his role in He Got Game. LeBron James is using "King James," Paul Pierce is "Truth" and Deron Williams is "D-Will."

The Heat posted some Instagram photos of what each player will be wearing.

Jason Terry discussed how he likes the idea and how his nickname "JET" evolved.

Here's the full list the nicknames for both teams, via the Heat's and Nets' official websites.

Heat PlayerNicknameNets PlayerNickname
Ray AllenJesus ShuttlesworthAndray BlatcheDray Live
Chris AndersenBirdmanAndrei KirilenkoКириленко
Joel AnthonyDocAlan AndersonDouble
Shane BattierBattleBrook LopezBrooklyn
Michael BeasleyB EasyDeron WilliamsD-Will
Chris BoshCBJason TerryJET
Mario ChalmersRioJoe JohnsonJJ
Norris ColeCole TrainKevin GarnettThe Big Ticket
Udonis HaslemUDMason PlumleePlums
LeBron JamesKing JamesMirza TeletovicMT3
James JonesJJPaul PierceTruth
Rashard LewisSweet LewReggie EvansJoker
Roger Mason Jr.MoneymaseShaun LivingstonS Dot
Greg OdenG.O.Tornike ShengeliaTokomotiv
Dwyane WadeD-WadeTyshawn TaylorTee_Y

There will likely be a fairly significant segment of fans who will be turned off by seeing something other than a player's last name on the back of his jersey. It's just another example of the "Me-First" athlete in today's sports.

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall voiced his displeasure back in September.

Many will also disregard nickname jerseys as nothing more than a publicity stunt from the league in order to sell more jerseys, and to a certain extent, that's not incorrect. The NBA and the teams involved will move plenty more merchandise than they otherwise would've had this idea not been created.

But why can't this both be a marketing grab for the league and a way for players to have some fun on the court and display some personality?

Basketball is a team game, but it's also one that lends itself to elevating individual players. Unlike football, the players' faces aren't obscured by a helmet, and unlike baseball, players are part of the action on a regular basis.

For better or worse, the influence of street-ball has also served to further the more flamboyant aspect of the game.

Why not embrace some of that individuality?

And think of it this way. Are nicknames that much worse than sleeved jerseys?

It's not like having them on jerseys is anything new. Uni Watch's Paul Lukas (via ESPN) did a great job of recounting the history of jersey nicknames. While not a common occurrence, it's happened before in multiple sports. Perhaps the most famous example was Pete Maravich having "Pistol" on the back of his Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz jerseys. 

BOSTON - 1973:  Pete Maravich #44 of the Atlanta Hawks walks on the court against the Boston Celtics during a game played in 1973 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and
Dick Raphael/Getty Images

This is an idea, much like throwback jerseys, that should be used occasionally during the season. Each team can have a "Nickname Night" that happens no more than five times a year. You wouldn't want it happening too often, or it loses the novelty, much like the McRib.