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Breaking down the etiquette, strategy and rules of the NBA jersey exchange

Breaking down the etiquette, strategy and rules of the NBA jersey exchange

WASHINGTON -- Turns out that NBA old guys Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter are trendsetters.

While jersey exchanges frequently happen in various sports leagues, the swapping of sweaty pullovers never really caught on with the NBA set before this season. 

“I’m not always big on that," Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal said.

The specific holdup varies. There are status factors, but for the too cool players, it's often the asking.   

“We need to do [exchanges] a little bit more, but I’m not really big fans of anybody like that,” now-Thunder forward Markieff Morris said earlier this season before the Wizards traded him in February.

The rules all changed when Wade - who comes to DC for a 7 PM tipoff on Saturday - announced his retirement before the season and most assumed 40-somethings Nowitzki and Carter would follow. Morris, Beal and others went from signing fan memorabilia by the truckload for fans to become obsessed with garnering some precious artifacts of their own. 

Nothing store bought. No manufactured moments. The opportunity they dreamed of as wide-eyed kids existed, but for a limited time only. The clock for them to shoot their shot with these future Hall of Famers was winding down.

Morris never felt the jersey exchange compulsion beyond his basketball-playing twin brother, Marcus, and former Kansas teammate Thomas Robinson. Then came the Nov. 6 meeting at Dallas, Washington’s first game of the season against Nowitzki’s Mavericks. 

“Of course, I like people’s game, but I’m not going to run and get their jersey right now,” Morris told NBC Sports Washington. “Somebody I grew watching and idolizing like Dirk, I need that, and it’s your last year.” 

Beal put aside ego by asking his basketball idol for the shirt off his back when Washington visited the Miami Heat in January.

“I did that with D-Wade because he’s a legend in my eyes and someone I try to mimic," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. "This is his last year, so I didn’t even know if I was going to have an opportunity to play him again. I was like, ‘I got to have it.’”

The mechanics of the jersey swap vary, but primarily the players handle the transaction. Mitchell, a second-year player and one of the league’s rising stars, texted Wade the night before their game to make sure they were set. Trae Young, the Hawks confident rookie, showed some nerves by texting Wade twice before gameday.

Others handle business face to face, no intermediaries.

"No, you do it, man to man,” Morris explained. “You got to go before the game or during the game and say, ‘Yo, jersey swap at the end of the game?’ I assume it works like that. It’s a brotherhood, so I wouldn’t think I have to send my person over there to ask. That doesn’t even sound right. If someone tried doing that to me, I’d say no.”

Beal’s on-court positioning helped facilitate his moment with Wade.

“I was standing right next to him at the end of the game. It was convenient for me because I usually don’t do that,” Beal said. “Not saying I don’t want, but guys that are like superstars, I try not to do it.”

The rush is twofold. Catch your idol before he hits retirement, but also beat your teammates to the punch. 

“Kind of a first come, first serve deal,” Beal said.

Load management for the Hawks’ equipment crew means bringing extra jerseys for each road game because of numerous requests for Carter’s gear even though the 42-year-old, like Nowitzki, has not announced a retirement plan. Yet in the era with specialized jerseys, there might be just a single backup available. 

“I made sure I was the first one to ask [Wade],” Mitchell said after Utah's Monday night win over the Wizards. “It means so much to my career…just to have that memorable moment. He wrote a message on it. It’s pretty special. Got it framed … He’s a legend. Always will be. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s done so much for guys my size. [Showed] we don’t have to be 6’7” to make it in this league if you’re tough and locked in.”

Morris recognized his Washington teammates were sleeping on the future Hall of Famer in Dallas. 

“Nobody was thinking about getting Dirk’s jersey. People don’t really be like I need a Dirk Nowitzki jersey, but I was like I really need a Dirk Nowitzki jersey,” Morris said.

Nowitzki didn’t play in the game, but was courtside when the players returned from the locker room for second half warm-ups. Morris eyed his prize. 

“Everybody kind of knows each other a little bit. You call guys by their first name. Been playing against Dirk for eight years now,” Morris said. “Kind of know him a little bit, so I’m not scared to be like, ‘Yo, Dirk.’ I’m just like, ‘Big fella. I know this is your last year. I’ve always been a big fan of you.’”

Nowitzki, the ninth overall selection the 2008 NBA Draft, learned this year he has many fans among his playing peers. The NBA's sixth all-time leading scorer exchanged jerseys with Wade, a foe in two NBA Finals, and other players during the season.

“It’s humbling,” Nowitzki said when the Mavericks stopped in Washington this month. “It shows you that some guys accept and respect what you have done for this league for two decades.”

Protocol remains unclear for some just entering the league. 

Warriors center Jordan Bell put in a friend request before Golden State visited Washington in January that stumped Wizards rookie Troy Brown Jr.

“I was like ‘I don’t know how it works yet. Bro, I just got here,’” Brown said. “’You’re asking me to give away a jersey.’”

They never did make the handoff, but the self-aware 19-year-old Brown later sounded like a veteran on the topic.

“Of course, there are people that you idolize growing up, but I haven’t really thought about that,” Brown said of asking another player for a jersey. “They usually give them to [established] guys that have been in the league for a couple of years. I’m still trying to get myself together.”

It’s doubtful Brown’s figured it out already, but another shot at Wade comes Saturday in his final game at Washington. 

The clock hasn’t indeed begun ticking on the jersey Brown desires most.

“LeBron’s for sure,” Brown said. “I think he’s got a couple of more years to go before he gets [everyone asking].”

Hopefully by then, Brown learns the rules. Maybe at that point, jersey exchanges among NBA players become rather common even when not including legends of the game. That's assuming they admit they're in fact big fans like that.

Seeing as Nowitzki and Carter have yet to announce they’re retiring, every player might have another shot.

“If I come back,” Nowitzki said, “we’ll do it all over again.”

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NBA draft lottery 2020 to be held virtually amid coronavirus pandemic

NBA draft lottery 2020 to be held virtually amid coronavirus pandemic

The NBA offseason arrives later this week and will speed up soon not long after with the Aug. 20 draft lottery, which will be held virtually this year.

The news it is being held virtually, which was first reported by the Athletic, was a fairly obvious expectation. All 14 teams participating will do so remotely via a video feed. That's the way many events are being held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wizards have the ninth-best odds in this year's lottery. That gives them a 4.5 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick and a 20.2 chance to select in the top four.

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The top eight teams in the lottery are the Warriors, Cavs, Timberwolves, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls and Hornets. The Warriors, Cavs and Timberwolves are tied for the best odds to get the No. 1 pick.

There is no consensus top player in this draft. Mock drafts have rotated through a few players at the top. The big names include James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball.

The Wizards will need some luck to move up and have a chance to get one of them.

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Michael Jordan competes in White Marlin Open in Ocean City for second consecutive year

Michael Jordan competes in White Marlin Open in Ocean City for second consecutive year

Michael Jordan has proven time and time again that no opponent is too challenging for him.

Even in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and Hurricane Isaias, Jordan’s love for competition prevailed as he was spotted in Ocean City, Md. this past weekend competing in the White Marlin Open, a deep-sea fishing competition, for the second consecutive year. 

If basketball, football, baseball and golf weren’t enough, the six-time NBA champion has now become a regular competitor in the world’s largest billfish tournament. After he entered the competition in 2019, he was the weekend’s star even without the winning catch.

In the weeks leading up to the 2020 competition, rumors began to circulate about whether the sports icon would appear on the eastern shore again. When his plane was spotted at Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport last week and his boat Catch 23 was registered, excitement began to grow from fans and fellow anglers.

In the competition’s 47th year, Jordan’s boat was spotted as one of 433 to enter the competition. His is an 80-foot Viking, which displays the print matching his Air Jordan 3 sneakers that he wore during the 1998 NBA All-Star game.

The tournament features competitions in fishing for tuna, dolphins, blue marlins, wahoos, sharks and white marlins. Due to the effects of the hurricane, the competition spanned from Aug. 3-9, an extension from its normal five days. This year, the White Marlin Open set a record for the most money ever awarded with a collective $6.8 million distributed to the winners.

The top $1.85 million prize went to Brandon Golueke from Ocean City for a 97-pound white marlin. The fish was the third largest white marlin in competition history.

While Jordan and his Catch 23 crew were unable to bring home the top prize again this year, he has proven he has a promising future in angling. Back in June, his boat brought in a 442.3-pound marlin on the second day of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City, N.C., which earned fifth place that day and ninth place in the tournament overall. 

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