NBA Player Nicknames on Jerseys: Not a BIG Deal

KING JAMESAs a basketball purist, I’m not thrilled by the NBA’s recent promotional campaign to add player nicknames to the back of uniforms for specific games.

For a professional league that has always marketed itself in a BIG way, last night’s cheeky commercialism was pretty small minded.

The NBA has always fostered a selfless, team oriented game reliant on the collective efforts of brilliant individual performers.

My opinion is that the name on the front of the uniform should never be dwarfed, no matter how dominant or entertaining the player is, by a creative moniker on the back of the jersey.

However, in spite of this sophomoric NBA publicity stunt aimed at lining its overflowing coffers with new overpriced jersey sales, I must confess that I’m still absolutely crazy about clever nicknames!

Who isn’t?

I grew up with Tiny – ironically the biggest kid in class.

I sought help on my math home work from Digits – who was great with numbers.

I could never muster the courage to kiss Cali, short for Caliente, the hottest girl in school.

And, I absolutely refused to allow Booger, for obvious reasons, to ever touch me.

Clever, unique nicknames say so much about people. They capture the essence of a person, a moment, a movement or even a city.

Nicknames are especially defining in sports, especially in basketball.

Although most NBA fans love clever nicknames too, last night’s offering left many wanting.

Aside from the widely recognized royal reference King James to LeBron James, few other handles qualified last night as ESPN prime time entertainment.

Only basketball junkies know of Paul Pierce as The Truth, Kevin Garnett as The Big Ticket and Ray Allen as Jesus Shuttlesworth.

And, probably only diehard supporters of the Nets and Heat last night would be able to equate the feeble nicknames of JJ, CB, UD, Sdot, Cole Train, Moneymase, Sweet Lew, B Easy and Plums to their rightful owners.

In addition, the politically correct police in the NBA front office quashed any reference to Andrei Kirilenko’s AK-47 nickname (comprised of the Russian forward’s initials and the Russian Army’s AK-47 rifle) for fear of offending left leaning fans.

Unfortunately, NBA fans will be subjected again to this unabashed NBA novelty when the Heat play the Celtics on January 21st and the Nets suit up for rematches with the Heat on March 12 and April 8.

To spice up those upcoming games and truly embrace the essence of genius NBA nicknames of the past, the league should honor those past players with snappy sobriquets.

Start the night with two flavors of chocolate – Jason Williams as White Chocolate and Darryl Dawkins as Chocolate Thunder:

MIKE Comic 25 Chocolate ThunderGo BIG  with the Big O Oscar Robertson, the Big Diesel Shaquille O’Neal and the Big Dipper Wilt Chamberlain.

MIKE Comic 118 Wilt ChamberlainBe alliterative and lyrical with melodic names like Pistol Pete, World B. Free, Chet The Jet Walker, Downtown Freddie Brown, Clyde the Glide Drexler and the Round Mound of Rebound Charles Barkley.

MIKE Comic 91 Round Mound of ReboundDon’t forget the diverse animal species of a snake (as in Black Mamba), a Worm (as in Dennis Rodman) and a Bird (as in Larry).

MIKE Comic 110 Larry BirdAnd, let’s never forget the game’s highest fliers of them all Michael Air Jordan, Dominique Wilkins The Human Highlight Reel and the greatest player never to play in the NBA – the Helicopter.

MIKE Comic 46 HelicopterAnd, no nickname promotion would ever be complete with arguably the greates NBA nickname of all time – The Doctor.

MIKE Comic 98 Dr. JAll are featured in my FREE NBA comic book. Click below to download.

MIKE Vol 3 FREE NBASo, the next time the NBA wants to put gimmicky names on the backs of player jerseys, they need to promote the stars with the brightest monikers for their nickname promotion.

Somewhere aptly named former hoops legends like The Ice Man, The Mailman, The Microwave, Tiny and Magic all are scratching their heads… because their nicknames were once a really BIG deal.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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