The only name you should ever get on a pro sports jersey is your own.
The reason is simple, Gretzky was traded – your guy will get traded too.
I remember the night Petr Nedved was traded from the Canucks to the Blues. I went to the first game without the young petulant star in the Canucks’ line up and saw a few people in the crowd with jerseys that had the name duct taped out across their shoulders.
It was then that I knew I would never get a player’s name on the back of a jersey. Those jerseys aren’t cheap. A replica will set you back at least $150, an authentic jersey will be closer to $300 once you put a player’s name on it. That’s a big investment only to see them traded.
Okay, I understand you really like the guy and even though they may never get traded, they could still change numbers over the course of their career with the same team. Michael Jordan did it. Pavel Bure did it. Mike Cammalleri did it.
Is it more cool or less cool to have a Bure 96, or Jordan 45 jersey?
There is too much flux in a sporting career to have a current player’s team jersey and number on your back.
Still, if you really need to fly the colours, there are exceptions:
1. National Team Jerseys
A Team Canada jersey with Iginla on it, or an Argentina jersey with Messi on it will always be cool. Players don’t change nationalities (well, they usually don’t – again with the Petr Nedved reference)
2. Retired Players
Once your guy is no longer playing pro, feel free to grab the jersey with his name on it from the team you loved the most. (again this doesn’t always work either as sometimes they “unretire” – see Michael Jordan in a Wizards jersey)
The only jersey in my closet with a player’s name on it is a Canucks jersey with Trevor Linden‘s #16. I got it from him after he retired, and he signed it for me the week before I moved to Calgary.