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NBA to Put Players' Nicknames on Jerseys: A Look at the Best and Worst

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Fictional Sports Illustrated cover featuring "Jesus Shuttlesworth"

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The NBA just keeps on breaking basketball jersey tradition. A season after they put sleeves on jerseys and continued discussions to add advertising patches comes news that the Brooklyn Nets and the Miami Heat will, for one game, wear jerseys featuring player nicknames.

This idea would sound incredibly dumb--what are they trying to be, the XFL?--if not for the fact that the Heat and the Nets happen to employ some of the best-nicknamed players in league history.

Take Ray Allen, for example. Over the past four years, anytime Allen was involved in a prominent playoff series, the words "Jesus Shuttlesworth" trended Twitter.

For those uninitiated, Jesus Shuttlesworth is the name of a character Allen portrayed in the Spike Lee movie He Got Game some 15 years ago. That movie wasn't a big hit critically or commercially, but somehow, that name stuck. It's one of the most iconic nicknames in sports.


Then there's Brooklyn's Paul Pierce, whose nickname "The Truth" harkens back to the glorious era of single noun nicknames. These nicknames not only sounded cool but also made sense (like, "The Microwave" for Vinnie Johnson, who heated up on the court quickly, or "The Glove" for Gary Payton, who was a lockdown defender). Sometime in the last decade and half, we drifted away from descriptive single word nicknames in favor of unimaginative acronyms, like "CP3" (Chris Paul), "CWebb" (Chris Webber), and "TMac" (Tracy McGrady). Heck, long before Kobe gave himself the nickname "Mamba"--a big no-no, by the way, giving yourself a nickname--Adidas tried to anoint Kobe "KB8".

There is, however, one exception. Andrei Kirilenko's initials+jersey number nickname, "AK47" is actually clever, especially since the weapon actually originated from Russia. Though it seems unlikely Kirilenko will actually get to put the name of an assault rifle on his jersey, given the NBA's image-conscious mentality.

Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade will probably go with "Three", yet another self-anointed nickname that was undoubtedly a passive-aggressive reminder that he has one more championship than his teammate, LeBron James.

LeBron will probably go with "King James", which is a vanilla nickname with a hint of arrogance. Jason Terry will piss off Kenny Smith by going with "The Jet", and Garnett will likely go with "KG" over his older nicknames, "The Big Ticket" and "Da Kid".

But the best nickname of the bunch has to go to Chris Bosh, who was dubbed by Shaq as "The RuPaul of Big Men"

It's unlikely Bosh will go with that though. Maybe he'll go with his best-known internet persona?

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