The Name Game

July 27, 2011

It’s quite clear that more than any profession, athletes have the most enviable names. Do you think they exit the womb with such power and finesse that their mothers have no choice but to bestow totally kickass names upon them like Cadillac and Tank? I think a study should be done about this. I mean, let’s be honest, I’ve never once been in an office setting where someone introduced themselves as LeGarrette, Shaquille or BenJarvus. I’d like you to meet my accountant, Takeo Spikes. Shit just doesn’t happen. Thus, in honor of fantastic athlete nomenclature, I’ve decided to highlight some of my favorite names in sports over the past few decades.

Honorable Mention – All Product Placement Team:

Milton Bradley and Coco Crisp. I hope that both of these baseball players get lifetime supplies of board games and cereal, respectively. It’s the least their namesakes can do for all of the free advertising they’re given every time these guys play on national television. Also funny that board games and cereal seem to go hand in hand. You know what else goes hand in hand with board games and cereal? Weed.

Honorable Mention – The NFL:

Peerless Price, Quentin Jammer, Takeo Spikes, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Plaxico Burress, Ebenezer Ekuban, A.J. Hawk, Lawyer Malloy, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Madison Hedgecock…the list goes on.

10. Hope Solo: I know, this was an easy one since the Women’s World Cup was recently top of mind. But let’s be serious. Hope Solo could not have been anything besides a soccer goalie. C’mon. Our hope rests upon the goalie as she keeps solo watch over the net. Yea,  yea, I know. Shut the hell up. The main reason I put her at the top of this list is because she’s hot.

9. Slick Watts: Check out the dude at the top of this post. What a pimp. Slick Watts played for the  Sonics in the mid-seventies and apparently earned the name because he was the first player in the NBA to shave his head. I don’t care if the story is true or not. Anyone who rocks a headband at a 30 degree angle is slick as shit in my book.

8. Kaka: Sorry.

7. Fred: While we’re on the subject of one-name soccer players, there’s a Brazilian dude who goes simply by…Fred. Seriously. But, given the fact that he plays in the MLS for the DC United, I’m not sure he’s quite deserving of the one-name name. Cher is awesome.

6. Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje: The Georgetown Hoyas basketball squad has been home to a slew of players that could easily qualify for this list (Dikembe Mutombo, Boubacar Aw, Othella Harrington, to name a few). But Ruben takes the cake. I was lucky enough to be a ballboy for the Providence Friars when I was a little kid and at one point during a game, Mr. Boumtje-Boumtje asked me (aggressively) for a towel during a stop in the action. Apparently dude is crazy smart and speaks three languages. But at that moment, he was yelling at me, a scrawny ten-year-old, in a tongue that was not my own. I was terrified.

5. Fat Lever: Talk about motivation. If Fat Lever didn’t excel at hoops (he was a two-time NBA All-Star in the late-80s), he would have been…well he probably would have walked off a cliff.

4. Dick Trickle: I hate to put anyone whose name resembles a STD symptom on the list, but there he is. I’m sure Dick is a nice guy, and he had quite an illustrious racing career (including NASCAR Rookie of the Year in ’89), but…yikes.

3. World B. Free: Forget Ron Artest’s recent reincarnation as Metta World Peace. World B. Free was there first. Like Ron Ron, World is a Brooklynite, but unlike Ron, it didn’t take a stadium clearing brawl for him to embrace a name that inspires a similarly vague hope in humanity. World earned the name for the 360 degree dunks he used to throw down in the schoolyard…he could ball. He averaged over 20 points in 13 years in the NBA and from 1978-80, he was second in the league in scoring to George freaking Gervin.

2. Duany Duany: The parents of this former University of Wisonsin guard thought his name was so awesome, they gave it to him twice.

1. God Shammgod: Quite possibly my favorite name of all time. Sports or not. Plus Shammgod had one of the best crossovers that basketball has ever seen. If that’s not enough, his name is God. And God wins any contest he enters. Period.

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Stephen Curry

December 9, 2008

Any person that considers himself a college basketball fan is aware of Stephen Curry, the man singlehandedly driving Davidson. Last year, Curry propelled the squad to the Elite 8 and this season has them positioned as the No. 22 team in the nation, an impressive slot for a small program like Davidson.

When I noticed that Davidson was playing West Virginia tonight on ESPN for the Jimmy V Classic, I was eager to watch Curry play as I hadn’t seen him in action since the tournament last year. I tuned in for the second half and although Davidson was ahead by a couple of buckets, Curry was struggling from the field. Despite the fact that he had dropped 44 on NC State in his last time out, or perhaps because of it, Curry was forcing outside jumpers and taking bad shots early in the possession. Curry displayed a marked ability to create his own shot and has a rapid-fire release, but he seemed to want to win the game on his own.

Come to find out, that’s exactly what he did. As Davidson found themselves down by a few due to atrocious rebounding, all it took was a jumper to go down for Curry to find his stroke. He wound up scoring Davidson’s last 11 points, including the step-back three that ultimately put Davidson ahead for good. Some might argue that Curry is too small to play in the Association, but his ability to create his own shot and marksmanship from outside will make him a threat. As my dad used to say, a great shooter makes up for a multitude of sins.

Watch the PTI guys argue about Loyola MD’s strategy to double team curry the ENTIRE GAME despite losing by 30:

I posted a few days ago about the summer leagues in NYC and tonight a friend and I went to check out a Nike Pro City Game at Hunter College. To our pleasant surprise none other than Michael “The Beast” Beasley was playing. Also on the court were Smush Parker, Marko Jaric and former St. John’s phenom Omar Cook. The crowd was hyped and it was a great atmosphere for a summer league game. Not to mention admission is free.

I was excited to see what Beasley could do, just to see if he’s worth all the fuss. To be honest, he didn’t show much in the first half and almost looked like he was playing timid, or afraid to get hurt. Not surprisingly, his team fell to a twenty point deficit. Someone must have talked some shit, or maybe he was embarrassed, because he came alive in the second half, displaying a versatile array of moves on the baseline and low post and even draining a few threes. He easily scored 25 in the second half alone and brought his team back for an eventual win.

If nothing else, Hunter College is a great place to see hoops during the summer and you get a chance to watch some real talent for free. Take the 6 to 68th after work and say you were there before Beasley became the next Barkley.

Nike Pro City

July 23, 2008

I recently read an article by ESPN.com’s Scoop Jackson about the deified New York City point guard. Scoop’s piece noted the decline of worshiped guards coming out of the Big Apple, citing the meteoric rise and subsequent fizzle of Sebastian Telfair as a turning point. NYC guards never changed the game, but gone are the days when players like Mark Jackson, Kenny Anderson, Rod Strickland and Stephon Marbury dominated the playground then went on to have notable NBA careers. Scoop’s point was that…who cares? NYC point guards are adapting their game to the pro level less and less frequently because–so what if the world doesn’t know their name…NYC basketball heads do, and that’s all that matters to them.

All summer I’ve been meaning to catch a few Nike summer league games at the city’s hallowed grounds for summer ball: Hunter College, West 4th, Dyckman and Conrad McRae, among others. These courts host games featuring rising college stars, current and former NBA players and playground dudes. Pro City at Hunter College (68th and Lex) has runs each Tuesday and Thursday nights, Dyckman (204th and Nagle) each weekend for the most part, West 4th every damn day and Conrad McRae (Park Slope) on Saturdays and Sundays. For comprehensive info on each court and full schedules, check out Nike Basketball’s NYC page HERE. If you go on the right day, you might just witness the next God Shammgod. While we’re on the topic of Shamm, check out a highlight reel from the ’95 McDonald’s game…

In a series that oozed ’80s nostalgia, the Celtics ousted the Lakers in six games to win their 17th NBA championship and first since 1986. The Celts consistently proved themselves to be the superior team and took game six by a punishing 39-point margin. All this despite myriad adversity: Paul Pierce’s knee, Rajon Rondo’s ankle, Kendrick Perkins’ shoulder, Ray Allen’s son’s illness, Doc Rivers.

I personally can’t stand Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and therefore rooted whole-heartedly for the Celtics. I was thrilled to see first-class players like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen get their first rings and happy that Paul Pierce was able to redeem himself after a roller coaster career in Boston (a topic covered in detail in this week’s Sports Illustrated).

While I’m a bigger fan of the college game, I found myself particularly engaged in this year’s playoffs perhaps due to the intrigue of a Celtics-Lakers match up. The level of play was awe-inspiring at times, especially that of Finals MVP Paul Pierce who legitimately willed his team to victory. In Garnett and Allen, Boston also has two players that seem like respectable human beings, a rare find in professional sports these days. It’s frustrating when the marquee athletes in each major sport (Bryant, Bonds, TO) come off as complete assholes. Personalities such as these are hard to stomach and often deter me from enjoying the sport. When Boston was showered in confetti tonight, I could actually say that the good guys won.