SBJ/July 21-27, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

For Christmas games, NBA on a first-name basis

Get ready for LeBron, Carmelo and Derrick — yes, first names only.

The NBA plans to use its Christmas Day games again this year to roll out a set of newly styled jerseys, this time featuring players’ first names on the back of the uniform, placed below the players’ numbers.

The front of the uniforms also will feature teams’ logos instead of their city or team marks. But unlike last year, when the NBA featured short-sleeved jerseys for its Dec. 25 games, this year’s Christmas uniforms will be teams’ traditional, tank-top-style jerseys.

The NBA will begin selling the jerseys on Nov. 14.

“Our players are so identified with their first names, and we
wanted to augment that,” said Christopher Arena, NBA vice president of identity, outfitting and equipment. “We wanted to celebrate it.”

Arena said putting the players’ names below the numbers is a way to call additional attention to the change. While the NBA has not released its 2014-15 schedule yet, Arena said that like last year, five games will be played on Christmas Day.

Names will go below the numbers, another change.

Figure on big-market, big-name teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls being included.

The NBA last season also experimented with putting players’ nicknames on the back of team jerseys, with players from the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets wearing the nicknamed jerseys for three games.

And while the short-sleeved jerseys may be absent from this year’s Christmas Day games, the look isn’t going away fully, even though the league’s biggest star, LeBron James, was critical of the styling last season.

“Some teams embrace it,” Arena said, “some don’t.”

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