Bucks Best 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.
#45 - DORON LAMB
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.
#44 - ROKO UKIC
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.
#43 - ZENDON HAMILTON
Hamilton is the capital city of Bermuda, but that is not really the point here.
#42 - LORENZO ROMAR
First and last names here are interchangeable and equally cool.
#41 - SAMUEL DALEMBERT
#40 - KENDALL GILL
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.
#39 - HAKIM WARRICK
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.
#38 - OSCAR ROBERTSON
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.
#37 - TOBIAS HARRIS
He’s got the Fünke?
#36 - KAREEM ABDUL-JABAAR
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.
#35 - DUDLEY BRADLEY
It’s the two last-name, zero first-name special. Quite a ring to it.
#34 - BOB BOOZER
Bob goes even better than Carlos.
#33 - JOE WOLF
Two-syllable magic. Would be much higher if this was Timberwolves.com, but still.
#32 - TATE GEORGE
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.
#30 - MIKE GMINSKI
Guess how many words starts with Gm.
#29 - REECE GAINES
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.
#28 - BENOIT BENJAMIN
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.
#27 - DAVID THIRDKILL
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.
#26 - TINY ARCHIBALD
Would be higher if his name was really Tiny, but it is actually Nate (well, Nathaniel). Still.
#25 - RAY ALLEN
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).
#24 - MARV WINKLER
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.
#23 - BILL DINWIDDIE
Bill Dinwiddie sounds like a fellow born in Muncie, Indiana.
#22 - LUC MBAH A MOUTE
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.
#21 - ALAA ABDELNABY
The ultimate all-around name for being called, placed, listed, and chosen for something in grade school. I can relate, but not like this.
#20 - CUONZO MARTIN
Fun fact: Cuonzo Martin played college hoops with Glenn Robinson at Purdue. Emphasis on “Cuonzo Martin”.
#19 - MCCOY MCLEMORE
Two cheers for this unusual example of alluring alliteration.
#18 - SWEN NATER
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.
#17 - GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO
This sums it up pretty well.
#16 - FRANK BRICKOWSKI
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.
#15 - EARL BOYKINS
I could not make up a last name that looks or sounds more like eternal fan favorite “Boykins”.
#14 - ACIE EARL
#13 - EKPE UDOH
As though Ekpedeme Udoh isn’t great enough, his middle name is, unequivocally, Friday.
#12 - WALT WESLEY
Willy Wonka. Woodrow Wilson. Walt Whitman. Walter White. Walt Wesley.
#11 - ARMEN GILLIAM
Fun Fact: Born Armon Louis Gilliam, he changed the spelling of his first name to Armen to help clarify the pronunciation.
#10 - HARVEY CATCHINGS
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).
#9 - DARVIN HAM
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.
#8 - RAFER ALSTON
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.
#7 - ZAZA PACHULIA
Zaza is technically a nickname, which kind of makes sense. But did you really know his real first name is Zaur?
#6 - BLUE EDWARDS
NBA Jam legend.
#5 - DAN GADZURIC
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.
#3 - HAYWOODE WORKMAN
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.”
#2 - LITTERIAL GREEN
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.
#1 - ROYAL IVEY
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.