Archive for the ‘Nicknames’ Category

2013-nba-draft-class

Every year? Every year.

1. Anthony “Trivia Question” Bennett

2. Victor Oladipo (None needed, look at his real name.)

3. Otto “Blue Note Records” Porter, Jr.

4. “Agent” Cody Zeller

5. Alex “In Too Deep” Len

6. Nerlens “For Surelens” Noel

7. Ben “Mark” McLemore

8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a.k.a. “The Alphabet”

9. Trey “Perfect Name” Burke

10. C.J. “If You Don’t Know, You Better” McCollum “Somebody”

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miami-heat-clowns

In some circles, it has remained en vogue to call any LeBron James-led team “LeBron and the LeBronnaires,” even if a couple of those backing players are among the 20 best players in the league. Some people are just never gonna get it, never never gonna get it, even though we’ve all seen the Heat put together a supporting cast that has made big plays time and time again. I’m sure there’s an En Vogue comparison for this, but I guess I’m not properly versed in their catalog.

Nonetheless, those reserve Heatsters took center stage yesterday, besting the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio while starting Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis during an officially sanctioned NBA game during the year 2013. ‘Twas quite the accomplishment for a team featuring Chris Bosh and a bunch of haircuts, which is exactly why Shane Battier perhaps unwittingly gave the lesser Miami players their very own nickname following the big win. From NBA.com:

The Spurs reserves had almost pulled off a similar result on Nov. 29 when they pushed the full Miami lineup with James and Wade to the limit before falling 105-100. The Heat backups simply took it one step farther, fueled by an understood lack of appreciation.

“We’ve got gamers in this room,” Battier said. “You’ve got the sigh of the arena, a collective groan, I guess you could say: ‘Oh, we’ve got watch these clowns for 48 minutes?’ But these clowns have a lot of fight in them. The Fighting Clowns.”

As we all know, nicknaming a bench isn’t easy. It’s either the totally krossed played out “Bench Mob” which has been used just about any time a bench started playing well together or something that everyone except for that team’s fans forgets (seriously, do you non-Clipper fans out there ever call their bench “A Tribe Called Bench?”). Leave it to Shane Battier to come up with something brilliant and original that also won’t catch on but is still pretty funny.

Obviously, we’re not going to call Heat players 4-15 “The Fighting Clowns” and assume that it’s going to stick. But imagine if it did. Not only is fighting a go-to mascot adjective, a lot of people are terrified of clowns, so you have to assume that a fighting clown would strike fear in the hearts of men. It makes sense logically, though I guess the fear is that this name gaining popularity could and would lead to Chris Andersen getting his face permanently tattooed with clown makeup. That’s something that’s better left unsaid, so forget I mentioned this.

chris-bosh-ray-allen-high-five

As we’ve discussed before, when Ray Allen heats up, his Heat teammates still call him Jesus Shuttlesworth, after his character in Spike Lee’s “He Got Game.” This makes sense, since it’s something a bunch of us normals do occasionally. Pretty standard stuff, really.

Not standard, however, is calling Ray by his given first name, Walter, which is something that’s slipped under the radar for basically his whole career. Sure, you might have heard Mark Jackson or some other overly familiar announcer go with a “Walter. Ray. Allen.” while in the middle of highlights or something like that, but I’d guess most people aren’t even aware that Ray is really a middle name.

Chris Bosh isn’t one of those people. From the Miami Herald:

11) Does anyone call you by your real name – Walter?

“My college friends do. And now Chris Bosh, for some reason.”

Yeah, of course Chris Bosh calls Ray Allen “Walter” for no real reason. Why wouldn’t he? That’s a super Chris Bosh kind of thing to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bosh even shortened things up and called him “Walt.” He’s such a silly.

Oh, and if you were wondering if Dwyane Wade still hates vegetables (weird if you were), the answer is yes.

14) Three things that people don’t know about some other Heat teammates?

“Dwyane doesn’t eat any vegetables, no greens, no salad, no nothing. Chris Andersen , it is all one tattoo, believe it or not. Mario Chalmers and I grew up together. I’ve known him since he was a little kid. Our fathers served in the military together.”

Guess that personal chef is really paying off. Also, good luck looking at Chris Andersen without thinking about how all of his tattoos connect … somewhere. Yuck.

Pretty cute about the Chalmers connection too. Ray Allen is a wealth of information, so go read the whole questionnaire to learn a whole bunch of strange things about the Heat. And if you see Ray walking down the street, please call him Ray. You’re not Chris Bosh.

kobe-bryant-excited-about-a-basketball

Kobe Bryant doesn’t need a nickname. We all know this. With one of the most iconic and striking names in the business — the best in the whole league, in one writer’s opinion — and a style and resume that more than speaks for itself, a nickname for Kobe would never be anything but superfluous.

Still, these are unquestionably nicknamey times for Kobe — his play in the Lakers’ recent surge has been of such superlative quality that you can’t help but reach for absurd appellations when talking about him bringing his team back from 17 down in the fourth quarter, or hitting three absurd treys in the final minutes to send a game to overtime, then winning it with a dunk. At times like these, you just need to call him something other than Kobe Bean Bryant from time to time, if for no other reason than because you’re shouting his name so often in surprise, excitement and general awe (or possibly just frustration and fury) that you need some variety.

Kobe, as always, is prepared for this. He recently unleashed his proposal for his own new nickname on the world: “Vino,” with the unspoken implication being that like a fine wine, he just gets better with age. (The foreign translation is apparently needed, just because nicknaming someone “fine wine” or just “wine” would be untenable in its silliness.) Since then, he has pushed the nickname on his fanbase like Gretchen Wieners trying to make “Fetch” happen, with a series of postgame tweets hashtagging his new nickname in celebration (as in “#VinoUncorked,” “E=mc2 = #Vino,” and in a confusing hybrid, “#mambadrunkoffthatvino“) It’s all part of the brave new world of Oversharey Kobe, and we should probably just get used to it.

But is the nickname an acceptable one? Can we abide by his repeated self-promotional usage of it? Let’s stick our nose in the glass on this one and analyze its many tones.

Source of Inspiration. Just about any nickname can be sold to friends and family if there’s a good story behind its origin, one that reveals as much about the person and their character as the nickname itself does. With Kobe and “Vino,” however, all we have to go on is this:

Omg . My man just gave me a new nickname and I love it! Ha #vino

Aside from demonstrating what a general horrorshow it’s been since Kobe joined the Twitterverse (“Omg?”), this explanation gives precious little life to “Vino.” For a man whose game is all based on studied detail and nuance, he doesn’t do a whole lot of showing or telling here, giving us just the vague notion of his “man” (was it Chris Duhon? It was Chris Duhon, wasn’t it?) birthing the nickname out of thin air, and passing it along to Kobe for approval. Disappointing.Approval Rating: 1/5 Read the rest of this entry »

kobe-bryant-vino

Have you always hated Kobe Bryant calling himself “Black Mamba” and wished someone would come up with new nickname for him, preferably one he earned? If so, then today is kind of your lucky day, as Kobe Bryant has finally come up with a new nickname for himself. Finally.

From ESPN:

“I was in my coffin a few years ago,” Bryant said, gladly reminding the media that plenty of the pundits and scribes out there have soiled hands from prematurely throwing dirt on his grave. “Vino is out of the barrel.”

“Vino” is the new nickname Bryant adopted after a writer for his advertising agency called him it in a text after Bryant had three highlight reel variety dunks Thursday against Minnesota.

Well that explains why Kobe has been throwing “#Vino” on so many of his tweets and also why he pairs so well with red meat — he is like a fine wine in that he is aging well. Just like “Black Mamba,” it’s a nickname that makes sense, which is first and foremost what you are looking for in a nickname. I mean, people are always saying that nicknames are too exaggerate-y. Like is Vince Carter really half-amazing? No, because then he would be dead. Oh, and Shawn Marion isn’t a computer program designed to simulate the real world either.

But there’s one more thing Kobe’s new nickname has in common with Black Mamba — no one is going to use it and we’ll just keep calling him by his first name. More like Vi-nope. Nice try though.

When ranking the proper names of every player in the NBA, it occurred to me how reliant certain players are on their nicknames — so much so that without them, their real names just seem vacant, almost totally blank. Who is this Richard Hamilton? Wasn’t Chris Andersen a TV show host? Glen Davis … like the guy who played for the Astros in the ’80s? In a league as personality-driven as the NBA — and no league in professional sports has as many characters, at least not in this continent — sometimes the regular names of these guys just aren’t good enough to embody all that we know and love about them. We need something more.

Naturally, I decided the only fair thing was to give these noms de hoops a ranked list of their own. Not all of them have become as pervasive as “Rip” or “Birdman,” but they’ve all come to at least partially color our perception of a player, and in some cases, even if they don’t replace their own parentally-given names, they at least compound and add depth to them. As with my real name list, I worked off the active players in ESPN’s Top 500 list, and used every nickname I could think of (or found and could corroborate were in fact legit, in-use nicknames). I also pared them down using the following criteria:

1. I didn’t use any nicknames that were just abbreviations of the players’ names (KG, Melo, J-Rich) unless they somehow adapted the original name (Iggy, CP3, Bassy).

2. I didn’t use any nicknames that were only really associated with a player when they were on a previous team (Mo Gotti, CB4) or that they’ve since asked to be retired (Flash).

3. I didn’t use any nicknames that were too recent or locker-room-specific to have really gained any long-term traction (Gatsby, J-Teeth), or could really only be traced back to one non-league personality in particular (Trick-or-Treat Tony, SANDERS!)

Ultimately, I was left with just 81 nicknames. You’d think there would be more, but you’d be surprised some of the big-name players — Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Jason Kidd — that we never seemed to come up with acceptable nickname for, besides boring abbreviations. And then of course, someone like Donald Sloan or Greg Smith might secretly be nicknamed “White Zinfandel” for no particular reason, but we probably wouldn’t know unless they or their teammates made a big deal out of it.

Anyway, using those 81 names, I ranked using these guiding principles:

1. How iconic is your nickname? Are even casual fans familiar with your nickname? Can your name not be mentioned multiple times without your nickname coming into play at least once? If someone refers to you by your nickname alone, is there any doubt who they’re talking about?

2. How accurate is your nickname? If George Hill was nicknamed “Bonecrusher,” that wouldn’t be nearly as good of a nickname as if Ivan Johnson was. It might still not be that great, but point is, technical accuracy goes a long way.

3. How was your nickname acquired? Did it come about in an organic or semi-organic way, devised by your fans or teammates/peers? Have you had it since childhood? Or did you just decide to give it to yourself one day? The first two are almost always cooler than the third.

4. How does your nickname relate to your real name? Does it complement it? Has it totally supplanted it? Or is it sort of unnecessary, considering how already perfect and iconic your real name is?

All that in mind, here we go. Again, too many names to explain each, but will answer specific questions in the comments or on Twitter. (And yes, this will be my final name-related list. No middle names or wife names or derogatory Skip Bayless nicknames to follow.)

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al-jefferson-off-kilter

Getting a nickname in the NBA is a pretty big deal. For whatever reason, once a teammate bestows a nickname upon you, you’ve made it. You’re one of the guys.

And when it comes to guy-makers, the Utah Jazz’s Al Jefferson might be the league’s best. Just look at these gems, courtesy of a DeMarre Carrroll interview with ESPN:

Best nickname: “Enes Kanter. They call him Big Turkey. He’s from there, and Al [Jefferson] started calling him that because one day he was just eating turkey. Pretty much everyone on the team has got a nickname. Everyone calls me The Junkyard Dog.”

Funniest: “Al Jefferson. He’s just cracking jokes all the time, especially at Enes Kanter. He gave me the nickname Mophead because my hair is like a mop. He says, ‘Hey, Mophead, come here!’ It’s pretty funny.”

I think I understand Al Jefferson’s nomenclature — see something, come up with a nickname based on what you just saw. Pretty simple really. In fact, it’s actually very easy to create a set of nicknames for all the rest of the Jazz, so I did.

  • Al Jefferson — Big Bed, because he has a big bed.
  • Paul Millsap — Sappy, because it says “Millsap” on the back of his jersey.
  • Randy Foye — Flipper, because all his internal organs are on the opposite sides of his body.
  • Gordon Hayward — Boy, because he looks like a boy.
  • Derrick Favors — Cool Hat, because he had that one cool hat.
  • Marvin Williams — V, because he looks like the “V for Vendetta” mask when he smiles.
  • Mo Williams — Peanut Head, because he has a tiny head.
  • Alec Burks — Alex, because that’s what his name sounds like.
  • Jamaal Tinsley — Stubbs, because he always has stubble.
  • Earl Watson — Baby, because Jeremy Evans drew him as a baby once.
  • Jeremy Evans — Stick, because he’s built like a stick.
  • Kevin Murphy — Murph, because that’s what you call anyone who has the last name “Murphy.”

Super easy, you guys. Feel free to add yours in the comments below, for any NBA player. Go nuts. Just make sure Al Jefferson would approve.