At forward, 6-9 from South Sudan, No. 9, Loooie!
At forward, 6-9 from Duke, No. 5, C-Booz!
At center, 6-11 from Florida, No. 13, Sticks.
At guard, 6-7 from Marquette, No. 21, Tomball!
From Chicago, at guard, 6-3, No. 1, Poohdini!
“How great would that be!” Joakim Noah was saying recently when Bulls players were asked about the NBA considering using nicknames on jerseys for one game.
There’s nothing official yet, but reports came out recently the league had informed the Heat and Nets of the possibility of using nicknames in one of their games this season.
Heck of a way to sell more jerseys, eh?
Ray Allen has said he’ll use Shuttlesworth for the character he played in the movie “He Got Game.” James is expected to wear King James and Paul Pierce, Truth.
After all, these are kids, and the use of nicknames is perhaps more common in sports than anywhere else, particularly in the NBA. And certainly among the Bulls with Noah generally the self styled leader.
We’ve heard Noah many times shouting out to Tagy-woo after Taj Gibson had a good game, which is becoming more frequent these days as the Bulls Wednesday prepare for a preseason game in Wichita, Kan. against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Durantula. Yes, Kevin Durant.
Gibson sort of grudgingly goes along as does Kirk Hinrich, who rarely seems to call himself Kirky Werky as Noah does, or Captain Kirk. Actually, Boozer will go for the occasional Kirky Werky as well.
Athletes tend to prefer alliteration for their nicknames, generally simple rhymes. It’s more often a locker room tradition, though occasionally a player will pick a favorite name for himself, like Kobe Bryant asking to be called Black Mamba.
Rose is Pooh and Poohdini for his baby name from his grandmother, though more often he tends to go by D-Rose, which is a favorite formation in this NBA era. Like Boozer’s C-Booz or Dwyane Wade’s D-Wade, or Deron Williams’ D-Will.
Not particularly creative, though.
Bulls broadcaster Stacey King was a ringleader in nicknames when he was a player and he likes to manufacture names, some of which have become popular with fans, like Jimmy Buckets for Butler.
King’s Big Sexy for Kurt Thomas was popular, though I did wince about calling him that. King began to use "too big, too fast, too strong, too good” for Rose, which is a bit much to put on a jersey. There’s Boozie for Boozer, there was Asik and Destroy, again too long, Lieutenant Deng for Deng and, of course, the White Mamba for Brian Scalabrine, whom we think also gave himself that name.
Actually, Butler mostly goes by Tomball for his hometown in Texas. Butler was Kid when he was a rookie, but that usually disappears after a season.
Rookie Erik Murphy says he prefers the classic Murph. But he says Noah calls him Surf and Turf. He winced about that a bit. But he is a rookie.
Thus far rookie Tony Snell has gotten away with T-Snell. Marquis Teague is Speedy. Seems obvious.
Noah, apparently from his narrow frame, gets called Sticks and Stick-Stickety.
Deng is mostly Lu, though players always like to familiarize the names with a -y or -ie.
I asked Mike Dunleavy what his nickname is. He said it was Mike.
“It’s short for Michael,” he explained.
Dunleavy did joke he hoped on a poor shooting night they didn’t have to switch to Brick. Fortunately, he generally shoots much better than that. But Asik would have been in trouble.
Actually, nicknames have been common in society pretty much as long as people were calling one another something. They seem to date back to Greek and Roman times. The word comes from old English, ekename, which meant an additional name. Over the centuries it eventually came to be pronounced as it is today.
So here’s a quiz. You know your NBA if you can name these guys:
Skip to my Lou
Answers: Stacey Augmon, Jim Barnes or Marvin Barnes, Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Paultz, Chuck Person, Larry Smith, Armen Gilliam, Billy Cunningham, Rafer Alston, Darryl Dawkins, Gilbert Arenas, Walt Bellamy, Gus Johnson, Shawn Kemp and Pete Maravich.