Surprising news from the NBA last night, as reports began filtering out that the league will allow, or maybe even encourage, players on the Heat and Nets to wear nicknames on their jerseys for one game this season. (There’s an additional article here.)
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen nickNOBs on basketball uniforms, of course. Here are some of the other players who’ve worn them over the years (yes, I know there have been others, but I got home late last night from Bristol and had to put together this entry pretty quickly):
• Pete Maravich:
• Rudy Tomjanovich and Elvin Hayes:
• Jan van Breda Kolff (one might argue that this is a case of IOB — initials on back — not a nickNOB, but I decided it was worth including here):
• Walt Bellamy:
• James “Fly” Williams:
• Bob McIntyre:
Most of those examples seem harmless, playful, and fun. So why do I have a sinking feeling about what the NBA is doing with the Heat and Nets? Maybe it’s because the sports world itself seemed more harmless, playful, and fun a generation ago than it does today. Maybe it’s because the Heat/Nets thing feels more like a calculated “Look at us!” stunt than an organic development. Maybe it’s because it seems like just another way to sell jerseys. Maybe it’s because you just know a bunch of the players are going to try to outdo each other to see who can come up with the most “outrageous” nickname. Maybe it’s because it’s easy to assume the worst about the NBA’s uniform schemes these days, what with all the sleeves and the BFBS nonsense and the possibility of ads.
Then again, maybe it’s just because lots of things seem like bad news at first glance but end up seeming a lot more forgivable, or even enjoyable, in hindsight. As I’ve written several times before, MLB’s futuristic uniforms were awful, but wouldn’t the uni-verse be a duller place if they’d never happened? Maybe that’s how we’ll end up looking at these NBA nickNOBs a few years from now. Hope so.
On the other hand, imagine if this catches on and commingles with the NBA’s other current uniform trends. Imagine a team wearing sleeves, nickNOBs, and ads. Perhaps some of you graphically inclined folks would like to show us how that might look?
Meanwhile, at least one NBA player — Kendall Marshall of the Suns — doesn’t like the idea. He tweeted his thoughts last night:
Not of a fan of the nickname idea.Having your last name on the back of your jersey isn't just representing yourself, but your family as well
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) September 23, 2013
The nickname makes it more about the individual. It's still a team sport. Represent your team, your family, and go out there and play.
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) September 23, 2013
By Brinke Guthrie
Paul had a terrific article last week that included some work by Dave Boss, who is right up there in the sports art Hall of Fame. I love any excuse to mention Boss, so here’s an auction for a set of Boss-designed game program art prints.
If I had my way, Collector’s Corner would be all Boss, all the time. But Paul says that isn’t practical, so here’s the rest of this week’s eBay haul:
• Remember these NFL books? Man, I bet I had every title in the series. The Punt Pass & Kick series was particularly great.
• Love the cover art on this 1969 West Palm Beach Expos game program.
• I’m a big fan of the helmet style shown on this NFL kids wardrobe/closet.
• Look at these stadium cereal bowls from 1969! Never seen those, ever. How cool!
• Love this 1970s MLB logo. Why don’t they still use this? This gold charm is for a necklace or bracelet.
• Ah. Look at the NFL helmets on this 1969 United Airlines ad.
Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
Close your eyes and think of England: The NFL is staging two games in London this season, the first of which is this coming Sunday. “As part of the festivities, the league is taking over Regent Street this Saturday afternoon for a block party,” says reader James Vetter. “Perhaps this could be a good opportunity for UK-based Uni Watchers, along with anyone crossing the pond for the game, to have an impromptu get-together.”
I love this idea. If any Uni Watch readers want to meet up this Saturday in Ol’ Blighty, feel free to contact James directly to set up a plan. And be sure to send photos so the rest of us can see how it went.
’Skins Watch: “Corey Cove of the Power Trip morning show on KFAN in Minneapolis only refers to the ’Skins as ‘the Washington R-words,’” says Brett Stone. “This morning, his co-host even said, ‘’Skins’ and then corrected himself.” … Washington sportswriter Dave Zirin, who wrote the most thorough response to Rick Reilly’s recent pro-’Skins piece, went on W. Kamau Bell’s show and talked about why the team name should be changed (from Noah Habenstreit). … Speaking of Reilly’s piece, IndianCountryToday.com’s award-winning cartoonist, Marty Two Bulls, did a fun send-up of it. … ESPN’s ombudsperson didn’t think much of Reilly’s piece either.
Baseball News: Let no aspect of the postseason go unpatched (thanks, Phil). … “The Yakult Swallows are taking orders on a T-shirt commemorating Wladimir Balentien’s new home run record,” says Yusuke Toyoda. “But one problem: The original design featured the flag of Balentien’s home of Netherlands Antilles, which was dissolved in 2010. So the Swallows corrected the design to show the more up-to-date flag of Curaçao.”
NFL News: I’ve written many times that one of the biggest and most underappreciated changes in football over the past generation is the near-universal use of gloves. That sort of resonates a bit differently in light of what happened to Rashad Johnson on Sunday. Read that whole story — it’s incredible! Now imagine if he hadn’t been wearing gloves.
College Football News: Virginia Tech will wear stone-patterned helmets this weekend because, you know, why not? They don’t look so bad — or, rather, they don’t look like much of anything — in sunlight. Further info here (from Phil and Andrew Cosentino). … Here’s a good article about the Mississippi State training staff. “Middle of the article includes a reference to ‘Gatorade NCAA Sideline Inventory and Setup,’” says Dustin Semore. “Turns out Gatorade told teams how and where to place Gatorade cups and bottles.” … Robby Gross wants to know what the little decal is to the left of the Tennessee helmet stripe. Anyone know? … Arizona State will wear solid maroon this weekend. “According to the Twitter page of the equipment managers, there is a new wrinkle planned,” says Marc Altieri. “I don’t have confirmation but am guessing it is either maroon socks (they wore black socks for last season’s Maroon Monsoon vs. Illinois) or maybe the large pitchfork decals are going to make their debut.” … Lots of people in Alabama apparently still don’t know what houndstooth is (from Jonathan Lancaster). … Here’s a great article on using small uniform details to locate a game photo of Jack Trice, the first black player at Iowa State (from Tim Kniker).
Hockey News: The Ducks have swapped their primary and secondary logos, although the switcheroo has no practical implications for now. … Sunday night’s episode of Breaking Bad included footage from a class U. of Wisconsin hockey game. Maybe they should call it Breaking Badgers (from Jerry Nitzh).
Soccer News: Everton fans can now vote on the team’s new crest (from Mark Coale). … “Crystal Palace FC appears to be the only team in the EPL with a straight NOB,” says Brett Stone. “All other teams have vertically-arched NOBs.” … “Irish soccer player Stephen Ireland, made his debut for Stoke City wearing No. 32 the other day and as it turns out the back of his jersey is a bit of a political minefield,” says Patrick Fleming. “The significance of ‘Ireland 32′ lies in the fact that the island of Ireland contains 32 counties but six of those make up Northern Ireland. Therefore the number 32 is very heavily associated with the controversial idea of unifying the entire island as one country.”
Grab Bag: New site redesign for Slate. … Abercrombie & Fitch has settled a lawsuit regarding two Muslim employees’ headscarves. … The logo for Showtime’s new show Masters of Sex makes some interesting use of negative space (from Matt DeMazza). … England’s new rugby kit is causing some blowback, but of course I like the stripes (from George Chilvers). … Starburys are back! (Thanks, Brinke.)
What Paul did last night: I spent all day yesterday at ESPN HQ in Bristol. Then I went out to dinner with one of my editors. I had already set up a main entry for today (including “Collector’s Corner,” which Brinke had delivered on Sunday evening), and I had managed to keep up with most of the Ticker submissions during my day at ESPN, so I figured I wouldn’t have much work to do once I got back to Brooklyn — maybe 20 minutes to catch up with the Ticker stuff that had come in during my drive home, and then I could relax and maybe have some quality time with the New Girl.
Got home at 10pm-ish, checked my email, and discovered that the nickNOB story had broke during my trip home. So I had to back-burner the main entry I had planned for today (it’s an evergreen, so that’s no problem) and write an entry about the nickNOBs (grrrrr).
All of which is to say: If the uni-verse could please deliver its breaking stories during the standard workday, that sure would be more convenient.