So at this point I think I might as well let the pretense of this being a weekly column slip away. I had previously defended it with the same panache as the Bears O-Line does Jay Cutler. And as we find the “weekly” in CHIte sports spitting blood after being intimate with the turf yet again, at least on this occasion I can offer some sort of reason. I was attending the red carpet international premiere of the film I produced at the Rome International Film Festival. We were awarded the special jury mention for cinematic excellence so I assure you… the wait was quite worth it.
That wee indulgence aside I best get on with the inevitably verbose task at hand.
While I was originally planning compiling a list of athletes through numerous nations and many sports, the sheer number of nicknames makes that an impossibility. It seems brilliance in this regard might be due to necessity since athletes tend to have polysyllabic names that don’t really lend themselves to pronunciation. Given that the basketball season has just begun and that the hardwood seems fertile ground for a disproportionate number of quality nicknames that’s what we’ll restrict ourselves to. Thus you’ll miss out on gems like the ‘Black Pearl’ granted to Eusebio who was one of the most gifted footballers of all time. And at the other end of the spectrum… ‘Golden Balls’ as was dubbed another hugely gifted footballer for his amusing off pitch activities.
Long before Michael Bay was directing his magnum opus or the portly fellow with dreads was singing the reggae theme to Cops… there were the ‘Bad Boy‘ Pistons. These fellows were filthy, physical and effective. They won championships and proved to the baptism of fire that Michael Jordan would have to go through to become the greatest basketball player of all time. Not only is the nickname for the team very bueno… the players possessed their own quality monikers. “The Microwave” for Vinnie Johnson is fairly impressive on it’s own. “His Heinous” for Bill Lambier nicely stays in line with the theme at hand… also rhyme with “anus” (If you giggled you get a cookie… Count strands at Mooch:2, Zain:1). “Dumb Ass” for Joe Dumars… I might have made that one up, but who trades Chauncy Billups for Allen Iverson (more AI fun later).
“The Worm” for Dennis Rodman, even though he was part of a better team half a decade later… and should now be called ‘The Human Petri Dish” for all the STDs he probably contracted from shagging Madonna. And of course “Zeke” for Isiah Thomas… who should now be called Isiah “Franchise Ravager” Thomas… or “The great Her-asser”.
Imagine you’re a gorgeous young lady in a lovely black dress. Your tresses dancing in a soft breeze. The hint of perfume wafting a tantalizing trail behind you. Your hand cradling a martini with enough abandon to offer softness but the tips of fingers gripping the glass just enough to allude to darker desires. Your stride betrays the raw sexuality of your hips and the slender legs which carry them. And then a tall, dark man walks up to you. You recognize instantly that he’s a professional athlete. Many like him have fallen victim to your ethereal enchantment and then failed to scale the precipice. He stands before you and you almost feel sorry for him. “Hello, My name is Darryl…”, a laugh almost escapes your lips as you imagine the disappointment you’re about to emblazon on his face. Then he leans forward. For a moment his lips linger around your left ear before he whispers “…but they call me Chocolate Thunder.” Your knees quiver and in that one instant the tale of the evening is rewritten. Wait… why were we imagining we were Darryl Dawkins’ conquest? That’s troubling… wouldn’t it have been better to imagine ourselves as ‘Chocolate Thunder’… bloody hell this can’t be a sign of something good.
Much like his dominance in the paint Shaq could claim a place on this list by sheer size alone. The size of his nick-nomenclature repertoire is so extensive than he could crush Muggsy Bogues like in a Penny Hardaway (that’s two more quality nicks in case you were keeping score… which is exactly two more quality Knicks than they have in new york). There is the obvious and to the point “Shaq”… the more descriptive “The Diesel”… the less imaginative “Superman”… the brilliant “The Big Aristotle”… the video game inspiring “Shaq Fu”… and my personal favorite if not the most impressionable “The Big Shaqtus”. It speaks to a more jovial side of the man mountain and might explain why he can leave so many teams on such contentious grounds and yet still appear likable.
And not only is he a phenomenal collector of them but Signor O’Neal can concoct some fairly stellar handles too. This one for instance… Flash: An effective and surprisingly funny(check G2 spot) speedster who is over looked due to more highly marketed super heroes. An apt assessment isn’t it? Just come back to Chicago D-Wade. Noah could be Wolverine… Salmons has Blade the Vampire Hunter covered… Brad Miller is Ben Grimm… D Rose is Spidey… Aaron Gray as the White Panther. And as a bonus the ensuing spandex shortage would mean the veggie eaters straddling bikes wouldn’t have their bid-ness all exposed in those tight shorts.The Dream…and It really was.
From Nigeria to back to back NBA titles. The poise on and off the court. The only nightmare is that Hakeem Olajuwon had to play in those re-dunk-q-lous jerseys with that dog-defecation of planet on the front. MagicJohnson. I mean the man owned the lane and now looks like Danny Crane (‘Boston Legal’ is a show worth checking out…) but possess the single greatest nickname in sports… period (wait for the redundancy…). Perhaps it’s the greatest affectionately alternate title ever bestowed on anyone (‘Tiger’ is up there… but I reckon it’s down to those two). The word itself conjures a wondrous whimsy which is instantly and deservedly reminiscent of how he played the game. It’s also effortless… it isn’t forced like “Air” (more on that later).
It is such a brilliant nickname that when I say “Magic” you think of a guard in Los Angeles before an entire NBA franchise in Florida. Most importantly it’s so effective that it’s replaced the bearers original name… Earvin. I know it’s heresy to say this… but Jordan’s nickname, Air is bo-to-the-gus… bogus. Granted it’s a bit catchy but it only speaks to one asset of his game… his ability to jump really high and stay skybound long enough to switch hands and make a mug of any defender. Having a one dimensional nickname for the most well rounded player in the history of possibly any sport is bogus.
Also Jordan isn’t known as “Air” the way Tiger, Shaq, Magic or Pele (his real name is Edison Arantes do Nascimento… dropping knowledge on you kids). Anywhere in the world you merely have to say ‘Jordan’ and everyone will look up in the sky just to make sure Mel Turpin isn’t about to be posterized. The name itself was more a product of a marketing label (It must be the shoes, money!) and had more wit when it was alluded to in all of those “Air Apparent” magazine covers (Grant Hill… what happened mate, what happened?). For all practical purposes this nickname was completely concocted by Nike.
My uncle didn’t purchase his first big screen tele to watch “Air” he bought it to watch “Jordan”. Andrei Kirilenko is known affectionately as AK47 and truly doesn’t belong on this list in terms of on court virtues, but he has the simply rancid-posterior (work with me) nickname imaginable. Athletes are often referred to as weapons and those cold, Cossacks craft some of the deadliest. The AK-47 is a Russian assault riffle. The “AK” when not standing for “Andrei Kirilenko” represents “Avtomat Kalashnikova)”… just say that out loud. You’ll want to do nothing more than to grab a fistful of pain and drive it to the hoop. And then you remember this absolutely perfect nickname for destructive precision is wasted on this fellow! Not entirely certain when Paul Pierce moped his way into being called the Truth. I know diving/flopping is considered a pandemic amongst europeans and soccer players but no one has mastered the craft like Paul Pierce. Dramatically “injuring” your knee in the finals… (or wait was it his ankle… it’s his ankle… knee… make up your mind portly pierce) and then being carried off the court and back on a wheel chair and then miraculously being able to play is not so much an artifact of truth as of melodrama.
Also in light of some truth here is some fact; from the point when Pierce began his career with the Celtics until 2007 they had lost 107 more games than they won. Then in 2007 Paul Pierce suddenly became ‘the truth’ and there were wins a plenty… wonder what happened in 2007. On an unrelated note I think my new nickname for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett is “The Bailout Package”.(Do you reckon it means anything that “Honestly” by Zwan kicked on my ipod while I typing out the above para?)The Answer is an infinitely brilliant nickname. Matter of fact… timeless… just plain cool.
Allen Iverson is the Answer. Sadly the question is “Which player will amass a career scoring average of 27 points a game and excite everyone with his talent yet every team he leaves will be better served with his absence (Philly, Denver, Pistons… Memphis just made their best personnel move in a while)?”. And a quick follow up “Which player will whinge more than a fox news anchor being forced to watch a marathon of ‘In Living Color’?
Before the season Mike Lansu from the Chicago Sun-times pontificated that the Bulls would have one entry in this years All Star game and it would be… not Rose… not Deng… but Joakim Noah. We were talking face to face and I excused myself logged on to my computer, called him and asked him to log on to gchat and then typed out “HAHA”… which is indicative of how absurd I thought the claim was. Cut to this morning and Noah is averaging 12.1 points and 12.4 rebounds a game. Noah didn’t make the ballot for the All Star game. Until a few weeks ago that wouldn’t have seemed like a travesty… but now… that’s twice the league has shafted the bulls in one week. Here are the numbers for each centre who made the ballot.
There are only two other centers who have double doubles… Horford and Howard. Shaq is enough of a superstar to rest of pervious laurels. Bogut and Bargnani have solid numbers and alliteration on their side. But outside of that it’s a miscarriage of justice that should have the pro-lifers and pro-choicers picketing with intense fervor. Lopez might been scoring quite freely… but his team hasn’t won a game yet. Perkins’ numbers are worse than Noah and he looks like a tortoise beaten with the blunt end of the ugly stick. Andrew Bogut… would you please. Dalembert, Chandler and Wallace have absolutely anemic numbers.
And that last name there… Brad Miller. I love Brad Miller… love the trade… but he comes off the bench (with decent measure of success) for… wait for it… Noah. Matty how are you not more upset about this?And finally… CHIte sports would like to congratulate Dimitri because his beloved Greece qualified for the World Cup. Book a ticket to South Africa… and rather than celebrate their qualification with a shot of sweaty greek men I reckoned we’d all enjoy this more (I encourage you never to type in the words “hot greek” into google… not what you’d expect… or perhaps exactly what you’d expect… I just shouldn’t have done it at work):