Austin Rivers tweet on Monday has caused a stir:
Wearing number 0 next year! My nick name is going to be subzero! Cause of number and because my moves freeze people, got ice in my veins!!
For years, we have allowed Shaquille O’Neal’s to give himself a new label as if his very name was not unique enough.
Rivers grew up in a culture where it is cool to give yourself a handle.
With the rise of social media, everyone chooses nicknames online, even on Bleacher Report. Surely, it is not a stretch to start introducing yourself by that chosen moniker.
Rivers brings a swagger to Duke not seen since JJ Redick’s days when he learned early that being a top player at Duke came with unwanted attention.
Students of opposing teams used to go to great lengths to ridicule Redick.
"I don't think my relationship with opposing fans is a love-hate relationship, I think it is a hate-hate relationship," Redick once explained. "I don't think the fans really like me. I think it's because I play for Duke.”
“But to be honest with you, I love that kind of stuff. I enjoy getting heckled. For some reason it really gets my competitive juices flowing. I think the best way for the fans to handle me would be to be silent. That would probably bother me more."
Rivers has to learn early to channel his frustration and any other misguided feelings he may have into the game like Redick. In Redick’s day, Twitter was not as popular as it is now.
Based on River’s second tweet explaining how he arrived by the nickname, it is apparent that he has already been given some negative backlash.
My friend gave me the nick name and the reasons for it, I thought it was cool! Haters going to hate, I don't see yall
River’s tweet was merely a clever way of announcing a number change. He will wear zero next year because the number he usually wears, 25, has been retired in respect of Art Heyman.
Last year, Kyrie Irving insisted on wearing number one even though it was previously retired in respect of Jason Williams.
I am sure River’s has enough clout to have insisted on 25, but he now wears Zero, which is no fatality.