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By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor - Archive - Email
What's in a nickname?
LeBron James The NBA is reportedly considering putting players'
nicknames on the back of jerseys for a few select games.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you listen closely, you can hear the disdain and disappointment from the purists among you.

They are demoralized once again by an evolving culture that no longer resembles the way it used to be.

Gas prices aren't a nickel anymore.

Movies? It's $12 a ticket and that doesn't even cover the popcorn or the butter-ish product on top.

The latest setback for the old guard - nicknames on the backs of NBA players' jerseys.

Gasp.

The horror.

The NBA is reportedly considering putting players' nicknames on the back of jerseys for a few select games. The Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets are among the teams for which the idea is being proposed.

It would fit beautifully for someone like LeBron James. "King James" reads nicely on the back of a Heat jersey. Ray Allen is reportedly going to wear "Shuttlesworth" from his starring role in "He Got Game." That's not bad at all.

Let's be clear before we proceed. This is 100 percent about the NBA selling more jerseys. The concept is not foreign to professional sports. Several baseball teams have three or four different jerseys, some in camouflage, presumably to hide their appearance from the neck to the belt line.

If you have the money and want to fork over an obscene amount for a "The Truth" Paul Pierce Nets jersey, by all means, go ahead. I love America.

It's all about marketing and merchandising. The NBA is business. It's a money- making ploy and the league will do well with it.

If you appreciate it for what it is, what is exactly the downside?

It's not like we won't know who James or Allen is. Basketball players are visible on the court unlike football players or hockey players who are covered in masks and need the name on the back to distinguish themselves.

This is supposed to be about fun. It may not be hilarious to see what James is wearing, but for some NBA players who don't have a go-to nickname, it's borderline cool to see what they come up with.

An argument you'll hear from the old school is that it will promote individuality. "It's about the name on the front, not on the back." Isn't a person's last name individual enough? What's more individual than "Garnett" or "Wade" on a player's jersey?

The New York Yankees don't even put names on their jerseys, so if a team is going to allow a nickname, how is that more individual than a person's legal name?

That's not to say that last names should be outlawed, either, but the notion that the team concept is diminished because a player takes five minutes after practice to submit a nickname for this merchandising scheme is ludicrous.

There are a few things that need to be ironed out. For example, and this should be and probably is obvious, but the nicknames need to be respectable. Nothing profane. Also, it will be silly for guys who don't have nicknames to manufacture ones for these games. Maybe, you only let players who want to put the nickname on the back actually do it.

Still, this is much ado about nothing. This is completely unnecessary, yes, but totally inoffensive. The people who don't like it have no definitive argument against it other than it's stupid.

That may be, but it hurts no one. Let the NBA do this. Let the commoners who want to buy a "Shuttlesworth" jersey fork over their credit cards.

Or, the old-timers could save their pennies for the movies.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- Paul George signed a contract extension with the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. Terms were undisclosed, but it was reported he got a max deal. I think George is worthy of a max contract and in this day in the NBA, George is certainly worthy of it. We don't need the list of undeserving top-dollar players, but George is already an All-Star, helped carry his team in the playoffs, has gotten better each season, is a stud defender and part of a franchise with title aspirations for years to come. Makes sense to me.

- What doesn't make sense to me is the NBA's decision to split the 2015 NBA All-Star Game Weekend between the Nets and New York Knicks. According to reports, the Saturday night snoozefest will be at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with the game Sunday night in Madison Square Garden. Why not give both to Brooklyn, then head back to New York City a few years later? It seems the NBA is completely in favor of dividing the New York franchises and pitting them against each other.

- Anything that gives Shaquille O'Neal a presence in the NBA is a good thing. He is one of the most entertaining, engaging and fan-friendly players in the last 25 years, so his ownership stake in the Sacramento Kings is a positive, especially for a franchise in flux the last 10 years. He will make some appearances, no doubt, at Kings home games and his presence validates and excites a fan base that no longer has to worry about following their team to Seattle.

- Shaq is apparently staying with TNT even with the ownership piece. That's a negative.

- This Kevin Durant/Dwyane Wade dustup over Wade's spot in the top 10 of SI.com's list of the top 100 players is faker than the Easter Bunny. Weird how both are Gatorade spokesmen. Gatorade denied any involvement, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell.

- Movie moment - The most insulting thing I've ever seen in a movie is when Tess pretends to be Julia Roberts in "Ocean's 12." Lazy.

- TV moment - One show into the new season and I enjoyed "The Blacklist." I could watch James Spader ladle soup into a bowl, but it has enough razzle dazzle to keep you occupied. One complaint - it seems the intrigue around the premise is why Spader's criminal character wants to help this relatively anonymous FBI agent. Father/daughter makes sense, right? Too obvious?