Time for a Nickname Jersey Comeback, Nike!

Time for a Nickname Jersey Comeback, Nike!

In 2019-2020 NBA Bubble Game , with players sporting jerseys emblazoned with social justice slogans. This departure from the usual last names got folks reminiscing about the nickname jerseys that briefly popped up in the 2013-2014 season, a unique feature of the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets.

Ever since Adidas snagged the NBA merchandising contract in 2006, they've been on a roll, introducing all sorts of specialty jerseys: Christmas Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Latin Nights, Chinese New Year, you name it.

Playing on the irresistible charm of "limited edition" gear, these special jerseys were marketed as rare, once-a-year wears. Most of these unique jerseys were a hit, sales-wise, but some just didn't make the cut, like the nickname jerseys that year.

The first-ever nickname jersey showdown, starring the star-loaded Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets, didn't quite stir up the excitement of, say, Retro Night jerseys. Hoop Jersey pins it down to two things: First, the jerseys were just regular ones with nicknames instead of surnames. A fresh design might have spiced things up. Second, some players chose nicknames that were too plain-Jane or not really nicknames at all.

Here's the rundown of nicknames from that season:

Miami Heat:
Ray Allen – J. Shuttlesworth (from his 1998 film "He Got Game" role, though fans might've preferred "Ray Gun")
Chris Andersen – Birdman (probably the most tempting buy)
Joel Anthony – Doc
Shane Battier – Battle
Michael Beasley – B Easy
Chris Bosh – CB
Mario Chalmers – Rio
Norris Cole – Cole Train
Udonis Haslem – UD
LeBron James – King James
James Jones – JJ
Rashard Lewis – Sweet Lew
Roger Mason Jr. – MoneyMase
Greg Oden – G.O.
Dwyane Wade – D.Wade

Chalmers and Battier wanted 'Super Mario' and 'Batman,' but copyright said no.
Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Greg Oden, and Dwyane Wade just used initials - not exactly thrilling for anyone but hardcore fans.

Wade's choice of 'D.Wade' over his famous 'Flash' nickname, a moniker given by Shaquille O'Neal due to his blazing speed, was a bit of a letdown. Wade grew to like it after Shaq joined the Heat in 2004 and turned the team into an Eastern Conference powerhouse.

Brooklyn Nets:
Andray Blatche – Dray Live
Andrei Kirilenko – Кириленко (his name in Cyrillic script)
Alan Anderson – Double
Brook Lopez – Brooklyn
Deron Williams – D-Will
Jason Terry – JET
Joe Johnson – JJ
Kevin Garnett – The Big Ticket
Mason Plumlee – Plums
Mirza Teletovic – MT3
Paul Pierce – Truth
Reggie Evans – Joker
Shaun Livingston – S Dot
Tornike Shengelia – Tokomotiv
Tyshawn Taylor – Tee_Y
Williams and Johnson, both stars, had disappointing nickname choices. 'Iso Joe' for Johnson would've been spot-on.

Andrei Kirilenko's famed AK-47 was a no-go for obvious reasons. So, he went with his name in Cyrillic.

Brook Lopez's choice meant his jersey said 'Brooklyn #11' on both sides. Clever, right?

Mirza Teletovic took to Twitter for nickname ideas just before the game and landed on MT3.

That season, the Heat rocked their nickname jerseys in four games on 1/10, 1/21, 3/12, and 4/8, while the Nets only wore theirs on 1/10. After that, the nickname jerseys were history.

Fast forward to now, if nickname jerseys came back like the social justice slogan jerseys, they'd add some serious fun to the games. But it's gotta be a league-wide thing, and the nicknames need to be legit.

Picture Giannis Antetokounmpo in a 'Greek Freak' or 'The Alphabet' jersey; Stephen Curry as the 'Baby-Faced Assassin'; Kevin Durant as 'Easy Money Sniper'; James Harden as 'The Beard'; Kyrie Irving’s 'Uncle Drew'; Jamal Murray as 'Blue Arrow'; Nikola Jokić as 'Joker', and more. Pair these with the year's hottest city or retro jerseys, and you've got yourself another sales boom.

And of course, can't miss out on retro legends like Kobe Bryant's 'Black Mamba' (imagine that with a snake-pattern city edition jersey) or Vince Carter's 'Air Canada/Vinsanity', and so on.

With Nike outdoing Adidas in the marketing game, isn't it high time they brought back nickname jerseys?

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