Bucks Best Names

Bucks Best Names

The Names

Say what you will about the acquisitions this offseason, but the common theme is clear.

Giannis Antetokounmpo. O.J. Mayo. Zaza Pachulia. Miroslav Raduljica. And so on.

Antetokounmpo was merely the clincher to finally write this story about the best player names in Bucks franchise history. I originally had the idea while researching for my Google Maps story with the birthplace of every Bucks player ever.

On to it.

Caveat: I am using the basketball-reference.com database. Nicknames generally do not count, although there are some exceptions when the player was referred to as his nickname so regularly as though it were his real name. For example: Sorry, I actually cannot provide an example because that would be a spoiler.

The 46 Best Names

The number 46, because the team is entering its 46th season in Milwaukee. Stay tuned for more of these countdowns.

If you think it is silly to rank 46 players based on their name, please know that: 1) it is silly to rank any number of players based on their name 2) my original list started at 84, and it killed me to cut it down to 46.

#46 - J.R. REID

This name sounds as cool as it looks. And man, it looks cool. And then we have bonus points for the backstory. The “J.R.” part is not his real name. Rather, it stands for junior (ex: Isaiah/J.R. Rider). Because like his father, his first name is actually… Herman.


Simple first name but not quite simple enough for reporters who aren’t paying attention, and “Doron” sounds so much cooler than “Deron/Darren” anyway. Lamb is obviously rich in pun potential. On a related note, I enjoyed writing this story about Lamb.


He is the only Roko in NBA history and the only Ukic in NBA history, which is a five-star start to this game. Many people snuck a “Leni” in the middle as well, which of course only helps.


Hamilton is the capital city of Bermuda, but that is not really the point here.


First and last names here are interchangeable and equally cool.


Partly this but also this and so this goes.


Gill is a cool sounding last name, even if it is a respiratory organ found in many aquatic organisms. So, what makes Kendall Gill better than, say, Eddie Gill (who also suited up for the Bucks)? I guess it is the harmony of all those matching L’s at the end.


Really nails it with a couple of fierce names that match a player who tries to dunk and only dunk from anywhere within nine feet of the basket. Also great nickname potential everywhere.


Oscar is one of those names where it is all up to you. It can really go either way, and always goes all the way one way or the other. Oscar Wilde? Brilliant, versatile, tragic. Oscar the Grouch? Furry, green, perpetually down. Oscar Robertson? Basketball superstar.


He’s got the Fünke?


It’s true, the comparable Zaid Abdul-Aziz (who played on the 1969-70 Bucks with Jabaar) did not make the list at all. But Kareem chose the right name.


It’s the two last-name, zero first-name special. Quite a ring to it.


Bob goes even better than Carlos.

#33 - JOE WOLF

Two-syllable magic. Would be much higher if this was Timberwolves.com, but still.


Combines two previously noted attributes: the two-syllable punch (middle name, Claude, also just mono-syllabic) and the interchangeable first and last names. Who remembers Tate George? Comment below, please.

#31 - BOB RULE

Such an authoritative name. Also appreciate his obvious but memorable nickname: Golden.


Guess how many words starts with Gm.


If I was writing a book or a movie script and I needed to make up a name for a smooth, up-and-coming basketball player, I would probably come up with something that sounds a lot like Reece Gaines. Also: His real first name is Clifton, he is from Madison, he was once involved in a trade for Zendon Hamilton, and I can hardly believe he is (only) 32 years old.


Benjamin is a first name, but it is his last name. And apparently Benoit is actually his middle name. Benoit is also pronounced like ben-OYT, as opposed to ben-WA, which is the typical French-inspired pronunciation. Also, Lenard is his real first name, which sounds more like a last name. Jovial confusion.


Say there is someone named David Thirdkill, and you don’t know who he is or what he looks like or how he plays. Would you take the chance to play with him or against him? You have answered whether or not he belongs on this list.


Would be higher if his name was really Tiny, but it is actually Nate (well, Nathaniel). Still.


I recently read a fascinating story in the New Yorker about the power of names. The lede goes: The German poet Christian Morgenstern once said that “all seagulls look as though their name were Emma.” I like that. The article makes reference to a survey that asked which of two shapes looks like a maluma and which looks like a takete. Somehow, the vast majority of respondents agree, just by looking at how the words look. This brings me to Ray Allen, whose name – free of all those hard letters like B, D, G, K, and so on – looks and sounds exactly like swish. Coincidentally, a swish also sounds like a swish (which technically is an onomatopoeia).


Like Marv Albert (both were born in the 1940s), Winkler is from a time when shortening Marvin to Marv was apparently en vogue. Throw in a classic hometown-connection (Henry Winkler played The Fonze in Happy Days, the famous sitcom set in Milwaukee) and Marv Winkler is really up here.


Bill Dinwiddie sounds like a fellow born in Muncie, Indiana.


The thing here is that The Prince (to clarify, this is not a list of nicknames, stay tuned) has his named shortened to Luc Mbah a Moute.


The ultimate all-around name for being called, placed, listed, and chosen for something in grade school. I can relate, but not like this.


Fun fact: Cuonzo Martin played college hoops with Glenn Robinson at Purdue. Emphasis on “Cuonzo Martin”.


Two cheers for this unusual example of alluring alliteration.


I am Dutch. My heritage is Dutch. That is where I get my last name. Swen was born in the Netherlands. In any event, no biases here, but let’s just say that there is still another Dutch Buck on this list.


This sums it up pretty well.


Seemingly doomed on the court from birth with a last name that blatantly suggests shooting inaccuracy, Brick nonetheless made a majority of his attempts from the field overall in 12 NBA seasons.

I could not make up a last name that looks or sounds more like eternal fan favorite “Boykins”.


Not A.C.


As though Ekpedeme Udoh isn’t great enough, his middle name is, unequivocally, Friday.


Willy Wonka. Woodrow Wilson. Walt Whitman. Walter White. Walt Wesley.


Fun Fact: Born Armon Louis Gilliam, he changed the spelling of his first name to Armen to help clarify the pronunciation.


Harvey Lee Catchings. a great sports name. Any sport. Feels very 1970s, in a way that makes me wish I could have watched some NBA in the 1970s (among other reasons).


Per the internet, the term “ham” now doubles as a cut of meat and an intense superlative. No immediate confirmation on whether one of Darvin’s dunks provided bits of inspiration for the latter.


I don’t even know if Rafer Alston or Skip To My Lou is better. I mean that in terms of a name and as a basketball player. Lots of fun, both.


Zaza is technically a nickname, which kind of makes sense. But did you really know his real first name is Zaur?


NBA Jam legend.


E-Gad: This is not how you pronounce Gadzuric.

#4 - O.J. MAYO

Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo shares the same first name as his grandfather, while his middle name is just something his mother liked. His first, middle, and last names are things that I like.


Workman is one of three NBA players in history to become a referee in the league. You could say he is still a working man. You could also say this name somehow just fit his playing style, journey, and story perfectly. And it still does: Consider this quote from Haywoode about his transition to referee: "The same way I came in before is the same way I'm going to come in this time: working.”


Litterial Green makes me think of neon and the 1990s. I don’t remember anything Litterial before him, and I don’t need to see anything Litterial again. He played in the United States (four NBA teams in five seasons), Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Poland, and Slovenia. Apparently, Litterial Green (too difficult to not type the full name) also shares my birthday.


Here is the story: Royal (pronounced roy-AL) was named after the combined first and last names of his grandfather. His grandfather’s name was Roy Allen. (Reminder: NBA.com player profiles are treasures.) I like that creative ode to family, to posterity. It reminds of the street where I grew up. My street combined the names of the first names of the couple that lived at the top of the street, Violet and Carlton. I always really, really liked that. I also like that Royal’s nickname is Cheese, and this isn’t a Wisconsin thing, it’s a Pulp Fiction thing. Ivy climbs and produces moderately toxic berries. People in England used to call it Lovestone for obvious reasons, and Royal Ivey might cling to this spot for a while.



Alex Boeder

My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at adboeder@gmail.com.