Here’s a fun number: 38,000.
That’s how many Bulls-themed T-shirts—”White Mamba,” “Gimme the Hot Sauce,” etc.—Stacey King sold through his 21King label in January and February of 2012, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. A quick back-of-napkin calculation based on current T-shirt prices ($24.99) on his website puts his gross at $949,620 for those months.
When you’re pushing that much weight, margins can get nice and high, as your printing costs get lower and lower. Add to that the product-line extensions—hoodies for $49.99, bobbleheads for $39.99, and Chipotle Hot Sauce for $7.99—and you’ve got a tidy little business there.
I’ll let you do the math, but assuming the 38,000-number he gave Crain’s wasn’t as hyperbolic as another quote of his in the piece—”I was the Jordan of college basketball”—Stacey King has probably netted a nice chunk of change over the last 10 months from selling Bulls-based catchphrases and nicknames.
And it makes me want to puke. All over myself. And then just sit with it on me. The puke. As it hardens.
Why? Because just like his three NBA Championship rings, this success feels unearned. It’s opportunism on the backs of others, sold as originality and passion. It’s overpriced. It’s just shlocky as hell. It dumbs down basketball. It violates a social contract between fan and commentator; the one that says that if you’re talking to me and conjuring nicknames not in the thrill of the moment but in the development of a plan to sell me something, I’m no longer listening to a trusted and entertaining voice, I’m listening to a fucking commercial.
And, most importantly, the Derrick Rose nicknames are an utter failure. Joakim’s, too.
So I’m gonna do something about it. Before Stacey “King of Kitsch” takes the mic tonight to offer his newest line of crappy catchphrases and nicknames for the New Bench Mob. I’m gonna do ’em myself, and I’ll of course sue him if he adds them to his arsenal of (barf) “swaggitude,” which he (baaaaarf) copyrighted.
Marco Belinelli, G, #8
Chicago is Marco’s fifth team, and in this his sixth season there’s a clear opportunity for him to spell the starting guards and score some buckets. Can he play defense? No, but he’s a serviceable journeyman who might luck into a three-year stint with the Bulls if he can keep people in front of him. He probably doesn’t deserve a nickname, but there’s a good one here…
NICKNAME (what it should be): “Marco Polo,” as in Where the hell have you been/Where the hell are you going/We can’t find you/Oh, Nice seeing you for a change. Plus, Marco B. was born in San Giovanni in Persiceto, which is about 150 kilometers from Marco P.’s presumed hometown, Venice. Usage: When Marco heats up after dropping a few pull-ups, Stacey starts the Mar-co, Po-lo chant on the mic and in the stands. Fun stuff. (NOTE: When he was a rookie, people called him “Cookie Monster” because he loved American Cookies. Nom. Nom Nom. Nom.)
WHAT STACEY WILL USE: “The Italian Stallion,” “Rocky” or “The Godfather.” The Sylvester Stallone comparisons have been done already, but that won’t stop Stacey. If it does, a “Godfather” reference is too nice a sales opportunity to pass up. I’d like to complain about the uber-sterotypical and cliche ethnic labeling, but my suggestion carries the same burden.
Kirk Hinrich, G, #12
Kirk’s previous tenure was hot and cold, and toward the end he was rumored in more questionable swaps than Lehman Brothers, 2008. There are two obvious plays here for Stacey—one catchphrase and one nickname—but will these options move units like a “Hot Sauce” or “White Mamba” did?
CATCHPHRASE (what it should be): “The Hinrich Maneuver.” #Duh. Usage: Kirk lumbers to the rim for a garbage-y layup or put-back. This can be matched with, “It’s ugly, but somebody’s gotta do it.”
WHAT STACEY WILL USE: “Captain Kirk.” #Duh. Star Trek reference? I smell a new and rabid demographic group to market to on Twitter!
Nazr Mohammed, C, #48
The Bulls are the 35-year-old Nazr’s 8th team, and other than giving breathers to Booz & Noah, his impact will likely be limited. That said, he’s a Chicago kid who played high school ball at Kenwood Academy, and “limited impact” hasn’t stopped Stacey before…
NICKNAME/CATCHPHRASE (what it should be): Nothing.
WHAT STACEY WILL USE: “Kenwood’s own… Nazr Mo-hammed!” Note the drawing out of first syllable in his last name. Like he’s Ali. Does Stacey partner with Nazr/Kenwood to create a shirt with a charity component? Smart philanthropy is smart business.
Vladimir Radmanovic, F, #77
The Bulls are the 35-year-old Radmanovic’s 7th team—notice a trend here? That’s right, most of these guys are hold-the-fort players with favorable contracts that can be used as trade pieces to re-position the Bulls for another legitimate title push once Rose is healthy. Vlad Rad is an older, bigger Marco Polo. He doesn’t deserve a nickname either, as he’ll likely be gone within 12 months, but Stacey can’t help himself…
NICKNAME/CATCHPHRASE (what it should be): Nothing.
WHAT STACEY WILL USE: “Vlad The Impaler.” There are some striking facial similarities, and the fact that The Impaler was a noted sadistic torturer, and that he was Hungarian, not Bosnian, surely can’t stop Stacey. “Lucky No. 77” could appear, thaks to Vlad’s high-number jersey, as could “The Bosnian Bomber” or something comparably offensive.
Nate Robinson, G, #2
Another journeyman—5 teams in 7 seasons—known more for his freakish novelty act as a Slam Dunk champion than as a real role player. But he’ll get some court time, and he can score in spurts when he’s hot. He also can’t reach the cereal boxes on top of my refrigerator. If Nate can find consistency this year in Thibs’ system, this seems to be the biggest cash-in opportunity for Stacey King, M.B.A. (That’s the name of his as-yet undeveloped sitcom, and if he produces it, I’ll of course, you know, sue him.)
CATCHPHRASE (what it should be): “Yo, Shorty!” Usage: When Nate throws down a powerful (and probably meaningless) dunk early in the first quarter or during garbage time, he deserves a shout out for the high-wire act, but let’s keep it at that. He’s already been called “Mighty Mouse,” but Muggsy Bogues, Damon Stoudamire, Spud Webb, my great-uncle Yitzy Lieberman, and a few other shorties were all more deserving of that handle. I’ve also seen “KryptoNate,” but that’s, you know, bad.
WHAT STACEY WILL USE: “Mighty Mouse,”assuming he can negotiate the copyright issues. Cute, iconic imagery on the chests of short people playing intramural hoop all over Chicago? Cha-ching.
Marquis Teague, G, #25
I’d like to give the Bulls first-rounder a nickname to help make him feel like a real NBA’er, but I’m wary of heaping too much hype on any youngster with high hopes, you know, just in case they turn in an eight-year, sub-mediocre career, averaging 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds after, you know, they were the “Jordan of college basketball.”
Watch your ass, Stacey.