I know everyone writes about the proliferation of craptastic player nicknames and growing dearth of excellent ones. It’s very clear that this is the case. For the uninitiated, here are some classics, the last of which are expiring with the current generation of players:
The Black Hole (Kevin McHale), The Round Mound of Rebound (Barkley), White Chocolate (Jason Williams), The Glove (Gary Payton), The Iceman (Daryl Dawkins), Air Canada/Vinsanity (Vince Carter),The Black Mamba (Kobe), Magic (Johnson), The Chief (Parrish), The Answer (Iverson), The Truth (Pierce), Jesus Shuttlesworth (Allen), Diesel/The Big Aristotle/Cactus/Insecurity (Shaq) … I could go on and on, and I haven’t even left the NBA. But here’s the common thread: all of those guys are over 30. And those nicknames are decreasingly used.
Even teams were getting named … Phi Slamma Jamma (Houston – NCAA 1982-3), the Purple People Eaters (Vikings, 70’s), The Steel Curtain (Steelers). These days may never return.
Now we have … CP3, D-Wade, CB4, D-Rose, KD, Melo … and, as of today apparently, D12 (see Dwight Howard photo caption). For a second I was desperately hoping this was going to result in him being called The Dirty Dozen or something, but since he’s a relatively clean player and upstanding gentleman, I don’t see it happening. And this lack of creativity that has infected basketball has definitely already permeated other sports. TO, A-Rod, K-Rod, Dice-K, etc.
I’m not sure why this is. A lack of player creativity? Lack of broadcaster creativity/increasing homogeneity thanks to the general fear of saying the wrong thing? I really want to get to the bottom of this. Why are we just using player initials and numbers, or hyphenating their first initial and last name?
Fortunately, we still have the Washington Wizards: Tuff Juice (Caron Butler), Agent 0/Hibachi (Arenas), The White Hole (Oleisky Pecherov), Bean Burrito (Nick Young) … the list goes on and on into obscurity.
Nicknames serve a great function. They make an entertaining game more about personality and fun. Dwight Howard has a huge personality. Chris Paul likes to cockpunch people and kill team chemistry. Durant and Rose are the future of the league, and ridiculously dynamic players. How do we get these guys the outsized nicknames they deserve?