You gotta love nicknames. From “Cool Papa” Bell to Ebbie Calvin “Nuke” LeLoushe, nicknames are everywhere in sports. They give you a small window into the player’s personality and where they came from to get where they are.
In the NBA they are a dime a dozen. Among active players there’s Shaquille “The Diesel” O’Neil, “The Truth” Paul Pierce, “The Answer (Though, probably not for Philly)” Allen Iverson, Stephon “Starbury”, Stevie “Franchise”, and of course Yao “Guy in the Other Guy’s Poster” Ming (alright, I made that one up, but when you get dunked on as much as Yao, I think it’s viable).
But the nickname insanity doesn’t stop with “Vince-anity” and the NBA. Former middleweight champion of the world “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler liked his nickname so much that he legally changed his real name to include it. Baseball players seemed to have given a great nickname to everyone who played before 1950, with guys like “Wee Willie” Keeler, Denton True “Cyclone” Young, and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson leading the moniker mayhem.
Still, in today’s game it seems to me that before you can get yourself a nickname you have to become a superstar. Superstars have officially cornered the market on nicknames, from Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky to Alex “Mr. Any Month But October” Rodriguez. This nickname monopoly just isn’t fair.
The nickname game should start at the very least in college, if not in high school. “Cadillac” Williams, “Pacman Jones and “The Boz” were pioneers in this field. Why not pick up where they left off?
In order to help get us going on nicknaming where it is needed, here are five off the top of my head:
1. Dale “The Road Warrior” Layer: This isn’t just any old nickname. This is a nickname that can only be earned through a consistent commitment to underachievement. Our beloved basketball coach has led us to a 7-37 record in the Mountain West on the road. The only thing that I can come up with to turn a sub-16 percent road win percentage around is to give him an intimidating nickname, something that will strike fear into the hearts of the teams we are playing. Hey, it can’t hurt.
2. Kory “Bruce Dickinson” Sperry: Sperry puts his pants on just like the rest of us, one leg at a time. Except once his pants are on, he catches touchdown passes.
3. Johnny “Young Nasty Man” Walker: Yea, “Sky” would have been a plausible choice here but I get the sense that he has heard that once or twice. Besides, “Young Nasty Man” has so much upside. Think about it. The power of flight? Check (that’s levitation homes). The power to move you? Check (I almost cried when he went up for that game clincher against CU). As far as the yak hunting, mind bullets thing goes, it’s hard to say. The jury’s still out. (Note: Sorry about the obscure Tenacious D reference, but posters for their new movie “The Pick of Destiny” have me pretty fired up)
4. Gartrell “The Editor” Johnson: This is more of a personal one for me, because if I wrote precisely about how I feel about how he has done to this point my editor might give me the ax. Let’s just say that “The Predator” doesn’t really fit his 2.8 yards-per-carry average.
5. Jason “Two-Fingers” Smith: First off, I’m talking about the kicker, not the highlight machine on the basketball team. Secondly, why “Two-Fingers”? Because with a 33 percent field goal percentage and a missed extra point so far this year, I don’t feel that bad when Sonny holds up two fingers after a touchdown.
So you see nicknames, though prevalent, are tragically underused where they should be. Join with me in promoting proper nickname usage here at CSU. The Road Warrior needs our help.