Point/Counterpoint: Should the NBA allow its players to put nicknames on their jerseys?
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 23:09
Zbierski: The idea of stitching players’ nicknames onto the back of jerseys is little more than comical. It doesn’t just go against tradition – it completely violates it. It counters everything the game stands for. Did the saying “It’s not about the name on the back of your jersey, it’s about the name on the front” get thrown out the window without anyone telling me? A flamboyant wide receiver by the name of Chad Johnson once legally changed his name to get “Ocho Cinco” onto the back of his jersey. If memory serves me correct his career then plummeted. Karma?
Oakes: The name on the front of the jersey is most importat, but if there was one league that emphasized individual stardom and brand names, it’s the NBA. The NBA does everything it can to showcase the unworldly talent their players have and their best to keep everyone involved in the game. Many players are known for specific nicknames, and if the NBA thinks that would be more appealing to the fans, then they should put the likes of “King James” on the back of the jersey. It’s a harmless idea that could appeal more to the fans then seeing the name “Smith.”
Zbierski: I absolutely agree that the NBA features talent at an unworldly level. It’s also difficult to argue against the idea the league is as much a show as it is a game. Although all professional sports are businesses, at the end of the day they are still sports. One man cannot win a basketball game. “The Black Mamba” can score 81 points but it’s the “Lakers” who leave victorious. From a traditionalist’s perspective, placing a nickname on the back of a jersey in lieu of a regular name or no name at all is selfish. It says one player is above the rest in a manner points per game and salary does not. Not every player is deserving of a nickname. Every player is deserving of that equality. Besides, would placing “Superman” or “The Big Ticket” on the back of a jersey really be a good look? I for one would not take it seriously.
Oakes: It’s hard to argue the fact that one player does not make an entire team. That has been evident in the last two championships, as LeBron James has consistently gotten help from an unexpected source. But as you pointed out, the NBA is a business and by placing nicknames on the back of jerseys they will instantly grow the business. Whether some people want to believe it or not, there are people in this world that will see these jerseys and want to buy one for themselves. A Miami Heat jersey that says “The King” on the back would sell at an abnormal rate. Also, look at the excitement around teams like Detroit and Brooklyn. With all the new acquisitions people will want to buy jerseys, and a Pistons jersey with “J-Smoove” would be much more appealing than one with “Smith” on the back. I know I would buy a Paul Pierce jersey that says “The Truth” on the back.
Dalton: Without question many people would purchase these jerseys – my little brother is one of them. If this plan goes through it’s strictly a business move. Logos are changed, uniforms are updated and hardwood is repainted constantly – all with the objective of making money. If “nickname” jerseys are approved by the league it’s 100 percent a financial maneuver, no doubt about it. That said I believe the league should look beyond the money this time. Look at what basketball is becoming. What happened to hard work, hustle and getting the job done. The game grows more egotistical by the minute. “Nickname” jerseys may look cool, they may sell, and they may even become popular. But allowing actual players to wear them in actual NBA games would do little more than reinforce the notion that basketball is becoming the nation’s most player-centered and selfish professional sport.
Spencer: I do agree that the game has progressed away from the blue-collar style of basketball that players from the 70s, 80s, and 90s showcased on a nightly basis. That being said, today’s era of the NBA has grown into an ego driven league. People continually hate on LeBron James for what he did to Cleveland even after he has continuously proven himself on the court. The idea of using nicknames on the back of jerseys may be odd but it is just another part of the show that the NBA is looking to put on. When it comes time for the playoffs it is safe to say that all nicknames would be taken off the jerseys and the game will once again be about the name on the front. But until then I believe that it is acceptable for teams to put a player’s nickname on the back of the jersey. For 82 games a year the NBA is trying to be appealing to fans and this is one way they can increase the appeal.