The NBA's latest gimmick could have fans scrambling for a program. The league has confirmed that Friday's game between the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets will feature players wearing nickname jerseys.
After the league asked players to submit what names they would want to wear on their jerseys, the Heat released images of the jerseys as part of it's Name Collection in its online store.
Some of the nicknames are predictable – four-time league MVP LeBron James is known as "King James" and the multi-tattooed Chris Andersen will have "Birdman" on his jersey. However, there appears to be a lack of creativity as 12 of 15 nicknames submitted relate simply to the player's initials or last name. Chris Bosh will go with "CB" while James Jones sticks with "JJ" and Greg Oden uses "G.O.". Dwyane Wade, who apparently has a number of nicknames to choose from, has elected to go with "D. Wade".
Shane Battier said he wanted to have "Batman" on his jersey but copyright issues with Warner Bros. quashed that plan. According to the Heat, Battier will take the court under the moniker "Battle".
"We're still kids, playing a kids' game," Ray Allen told the Associated Press earlier this season when the rumours of nickname jerseys first surfaced. "Everybody had a nickname and it's a way to let the fans in a little bit more."
Allen, by the way, will go with "J. Shuttlesworth" on his jersey, an homage to Jesus Shuttlesworth, the character he played in the 1998 Spike Lee film "He Got Game".
As for the Nets, expect to see "The Big Ticket" (Kevin Garnett), "Truth" (Paul Pierce), "Joker" (Reggie Evans) and "D-Will" (Deron Williams) take the floor against the Heat on Friday. Russian Andrei Kirilenko has apparently opted to go with his name spelled out in Russian, Кириленко, on the back of his jersey rather than his acknowledged nickname – AK-47.
This is not the first time NBA players have worn nicknames on their jerseys. Pete Maravich used his nickname, 'Pistol', on the back of his jersey while playing for the Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks while Elvin Hayes simply had the letter 'E' on the back of his jersey during his time with the Houston Rockets.
Perhaps the most publicized use of player nicknames on jerseys came during the short-lived existence of the XFL. Running back Rod Smart created quite a stir while playing for the Las Vegas Outlaws sporting the moniker "He Hate Me".
The Heat plan to wear their nickname jerseys on two other occasions this season, January 21st against the Boston Celtics and again against the Nets on April 8.
Here's the list supplied by the Miami Heat of the nicknames players plan to wear on their jersey during Friday's game:
#34 Ray Allen – J. Shuttlesworth
#11 Chris Andersen – Birdman
#50 Joel Anthony – Doc
#31 Shane Battier – Battle
#8 Michael Beasley – B Easy
#1 Chris Bosh – CB
#15 Mario Chalmers – Rio
#30 Norris Cole – Cole Train
#40 Udonis Haslem – UD
#6 LeBron James – King James
#22 James Jones – JJ
#9 Rashard Lewis – Sweet Lew
#21 Roger Mason, Jr. – Moneymase
#20 Greg Oden – G.O.
#3 Dwyane Wade – D. Wade