Leave it to the NBA to continue to find ways to draw interest in its product, even if the interest being brought is mixed with negative and positive reactions.
It was brought down from the NBA offices Monday night that the league will be giving the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets jerseys with the player’s nickname — instead of the last name — on the back. It’s not a permanent dealing, as it will only be used in certain games. It’s likely the NBA is simply testing out the product at the moment in order to grasp how well the jerseys, which the league loves to tamper with, play to the public.
Reactions are mixed. Traditionalists want the jerseys to remain as they have throughout history with the simple team name, numbers and last names, but those with more ambitious outlooks see the jersey as an interesting change that could be a fun experiment depending on how well the players respond to adding their nicknames to the back of their jersey (they’ll be choosing their own nicknames).
Either way, it’s just another way the NBA is attempting to keep the public’s interest in the league between the fervor of the opening weeks and the postseason.
With the Miami Heat employing a number of players with excellent nicknames already, it’s only right to predict just what each player will be adorning come the night where these jerseys are introduced for the first time.
*** *** ***
LeBRON JAMES – “King James”
This title certainly doesn’t draw as much criticism as it did before LeBron was a champion-winning, legacy-creating, world-destroying, galaxy-eating superstar. Now it’s only appropriate to christen LeBron the King of basketball following consecutive seasons of unequivocally unmatched play in the form of two championships, two Finals MVPs, two league MVPs, and two of the most statistically-jarring seasons in the history of the NBA.
The King moniker has stuck with LeBron since his high school playing days, which featured James leading his school to three state championships in his freshman, sophomore and senior years.
With “Chosen One” already adorned across his back, adding “King James” seems like overkill. However, I’m not going to be the one to tell a four-time MVP what he should and shouldn’t do. LeBron’s going to be met with criticism no matter what name he puts on his back, so why not go all out?
DWYANE WADE – “Flash”
Call me old fashioned, but Dwyane Wade will always be recognized as “Flash” to myself, as well as any of the other Heat faithful who were around for the years of Shaquille O’Neal. The originator of many great nicknames, including quite a few for himself, O’Neal came up with the Flash moniker for Wade, who was instilled with a large deal of confidence and flash when teamed up with Shaq in the early portion of his career.
Wade has recently procured the masses to call him “WOW” over the past year, but it’s a name that has mostly been met with criticism in the form of snickers and groaning.
CHRIS BOSH – “VaBoshiRaptor”
Chris Bosh has been compared to a dinosaur his entire playing career, mainly due to being a Toronto Raptor and some considering him to bear a likeness to the team’s mascot, so why not own up to it and take on the dinosaur moniker?
If he’s attempted to shake off the raptor comparison, he’s done a poor job at it. In fact, he only enables it when he bellows out roars to crowds when he finishes off a big play and runs with a stride that resembles the gargantuan reptiles of the past.
MARIO CHALMERS – “Rio”
There are plenty of faithful Heat fans who have their own nicknames for Mario Chalmers, which I cannot post on a public forum due to most of those nicknames being obscenities, but the only appropriate name for Mario would be his current moniker: Rio.
Dwyane Wade also has his own moniker for Chalmers. Unfortunately, it’s one of those names that would probably bring about some unneeded attention.
My personal favorite: Superintendent Chalmers, for obvious reasons.
UDONIS HASLEM – “The Mayor”
Forget Pitbull. Forget Rick Ross. I recognize this is blasphemy, Trick Daddy. The true mayor of Miami has, and always will be, Udonis Haslem, the Heat’s 6-8 blue-collar warrior. Why you ask? Well, because he legitimately wants to run for mayor of the city of Miami.
Haslem, who was born in Miami, went to Miami Senior High School and played his college ball at the University of Florida, has never left the state of Florida on his own accord. His only playing days outside of the state came during a brief stint in Europe, where he was playing to get in shape following going undrafted in the 2002 NBA Draft.
Since being picked up by the Heat, Haslem has been an embodiment and a representative of all things Miami.
RAY ALLEN – “Shuttlesworth”
There’s a high possibility that Ray Allen, the Miami Heat and NBA would be met with pressure from certain circles if the game’s greatest three-point shooter were to wear a jersey that had “Jesus” placarded above his number 34. Luckily for everyone involved, he doesn’t want to.
Instead, Allen would bear the last name of the character he played in the movie He Got Game, a cinematic delight that features a young Ray as a high school basketball player deciding between schools.
The movie was revered nationwide as Allen made a name for himself as a respectable actor. Mostly, however, his name was Jesus Shuttlesworth and that by itself makes the movie worth watching.
SHANE BATTIER – “Horsetronaut”
No explanation necessary:
NORRIS COLE – “Cole Train”
I know we are all hoping Norris Cole takes on the moniker “Kid n Play” for his extravagant flat-top, but Cole Train is also appropriate because his game does bear a resemblance to the smooth jazz of John Coltrane. Plus, Cole is one of the Heat’s better conductors when leading the freight train that is LeBron James in the open court. Outside of possibly Dwyane Wade, there are no players on the Heat who can throw a better lob-pass to James than Cole.
Need some more puns? One could also try Cole-Blooded because of Norris’ ability to hit timely shots as early as his second game with the Heat.
JOEL ANTHONY – “The Warden”
If Joel Anthony bears the name “Warden” on his back, his jersey is going to sell out immediately. Well, at least it would in Miami. Anthony has become a fan-favorite in Miami because of the tireless effort he provides on defense, as well as his elite-level one-on-one defense against power forwards who don’t possess too drastic a height advantage.
Anthony has become so respected in Miami that he’s even earned M-V-P chants on free throws.
The name “Warden” alludes to his ability to lock-up opponents, as well as his ability to deny shots at the rim and keeping the Heat rim safe of any breakouts from an opponent.
Even if Anthony hardly plays anymore and has mostly been featured as a punchline because of his ineptitude on offense, there’s no denying Anthony as one of the league’s most feared shotblockers and defenders of the pick-n-roll.
CHRIS ANDERSEN – “Birdman”
Next to LeBron James, this is the most obvious moniker a Heat player will wear come the night where Miami adorns these nickname jerseys. Andersen gets his “Birdman” for obvious reasons, whether it’s because of the wings tattooed across his arms, the flapping after big plays or the Mohawk that bears a resemblance to the comb of a rooster.
Andersen has had such a loud impact on the Miami Heat fanbase that they have already almost forgotten about their love affair with former notable shotblocker, Joel Anthony.
JAMES JONES – “JJ”
The nickname is simple, but it’s also because James Jones role on the team is simple: get open along the three-point line, wait for the pass and hit the three-pointer.
It’s an ugly and harrowing sight to see James Jones attempt anything outside of a three-pointer, such as this dunk attempt — if you even want to call it that — he had against the Indiana Pacers in 2012:
RASHARD LEWIS – “Sweet Lew”
The other choice for Lewis’ nickname was “Young Fella” but that seems a tad contradictory due to the fact that Rashard Lewis is currently 34 years old and is no longer an All-Star with the Seattle Sonics or Orlando Magic.
Sweet Lew is a smooth-sounding name for a player with one of the most consistent shooting strokes in NBA history, with Lewis ranking eighth in NBA history in three-point makes. Plus it’s a great play-on-words with Lew replacing the traditional Lou.
GREG ODEN – “LeBron Sr.”
It certainly was ambitious of the Miami Heat to sign Greg Oden, thus creating the first-ever father-son combo on a single NBA roster. (I got jokes.) But one of the real reasons why it occurred was because Oden’s main desire in returning to the NBA and deciding to play with the Heat was to play alongside LeBron James, who makes the game as easy as any current player could.
Alright, maybe Greg Oden isn’t LeBron’s father, but the resemblance is there.
MICHAEL BEASLEY – “B-Easy”
Although Michael Beasley is currently on a non-guaranteed deal, meaning he’ll have to play his way onto the final roster, coming up with a moniker for the versatile, misunderstood forward out of Kansas State was too much fun to pass up.
“B-Easy” has been Beasley’s main moniker, which he used when featured in Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot, but there’s a wide range of directions you can go in coming up with another nickname to give Michael.
“Green Mamba” — can you guess why? — was a suggestion, as was “Black Hole” because of his ability to absorb his team’s offense and destroy it simultaneously.
What do you think?
Follow John on Twitter at @JohnFtheheatgod.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.