The perpetuation of prima donna athletes behavior & the dumbing down of their fans creativity.
(I excluded the subtext from the headline, since I thought it to be about as catchy as a Fiona Apple album title).
I LOVE basketball at the highest level LOVE IT! (Thurgood Jenkins voice). Ever since Pau Gasol was traded to the lakers however, for two nickles and a ball of lint (one of the lint balls eventually evolving into the cable knit sweater that is his brother Marc Gasol) I have HATED the product that is the NBA, and have been disappointed by the fans who are willing to turn a blind eye to the arrogant modern day players that the league has bred, through marketing individuals rather than teams or cities, and further still by those who perpetuate these player's obnoxious narcissism by accepting, and or propagating their self coined nicknames. This has left me in the uncomfortable position that i must still tune in despite the steady stream of disappointment the league causes me. I'm Like a junkie forced to settle for dyphenhydramine.
To my eye, the nicknames hold two self serving purposes. First and foremost, it is a way the player can get others to notice what they already believe to be true about themselves, (think Black Mamba or Manimal), and secondarily it is about marketing themselves.
Please don't get me wrong, I am not anti-nickname. some of them are brilliant. You need to look no further than the greatest player to ever play the game, Michael "Air" Jordan for an example.
The anecdotes of league history are more colorful for the inclusion of such names as Ervin "Magic" Johnson, David "The Admiral" Robinson, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler, Larry "Legend" Bird (also known well as "The Hick from French Lick") & Julius "Dr. J" Erving. Some of these narratives can not be told without the inclusion of such whimsically unique monikers as the likes of Cedrick "Cornbread" Maxwell, Chris "The Bird Man" Anderson (who's nickname was so majestic it required it's own nickname, "Bird"), Ed "Booger" Smith, Darrel "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins, and my personal favorite, in as much as illustrating the point of this diatribe, Brian "The White Mamba" Scalabrine.
Where my personal distaste for NBA nicknames lies, is in those created by a player for himself, and those that are so similar to other player's nicknames, that whomever coins them almost has to do the opposite of thinking (which I'm pretty sure is watching The Jersey Shore and it's ...gulp... spin-offs) in order to possibly be that... what's the opposite of creative? I'll go ahead and say it, it is destuctive to allow yourself to take part in the propagation of a poor nickname. Not losing your job a month before X-mas destructive, but aiding and abetting in an athletes losing contact with reality, while suspending your own disbelief that your relationship with said athlete is somehow closer for it."These are the pale deaths which men miss-call their lives"-Cliff Burton.
If we were to winch Doc. Brown and the Delorian out of Mc Covey Cove and take it for a spin through the annals of nba history, we would find some of the following names amongst the list that I'll call the "Self originating, narcissistic, criminally myopic, & opportunistic nickname" group, or "son c'mon":
Kobe "The Black Mamba" Bryant - Most arrogant player, possibly in NBA history. Fantastic player, but very few redeeming qualities otherwise.
Amare "Standing Tall and Talented, or STAT" Stoudamire - You know I like acronyms, but your nickname is an anacronym. Truth be told, the only of the four words that makes any sense to me at this point is and, as in and? Are you going to do something to justify that contract? You're really not that tall or talented compared to your paycheck and pro standards, and you've spent an awful lot of time sitting in the last 9 years.
Shaquille (Shaq) "Diesel" "Superman", "The BIg (insert native characteristic of whichever city I'm playing in now)" O'neal. - The man is a future hall of famer and recently received his P.H.D. , so I have to admit he has some admirable work ethic but his game, and the names he chose for himself, (one of which has lead to bickering with Dwight Howard over who rightfully owns it, when in fact both stole it from Warner brothers, illuminating my directive vividly) was/were exceptionally derivative.
Gilbert "Hibachi" Arenas. It's amazing what errors in judgement in social media and with firearms will do to douse your flame. Sure, the injuries were no ones fault, but it'd be easier to remember you fondly for walking the talk against kobe and the lakers that night in L.A. if you weren't packing heat in a locker room full of multimillionaires over a gambling dispute with a team mate.
Kenneth "The Manimal" Faried - big fan but, c'mon son.
The Way Back machine doesn't need to go back much further for you to catch my drift, plus the arrogance I speak of is symptomatic of the way the league is marketed in the David Stern era. He is equally to blame, but everyone hates him already (I'm looking at you Woj.) and I'm pretty sure Stern gets off on it so no need to humor him by delving deeply into that.
Amongst the exceedingly lengthy list of player nicknames that lack originality, (it must be pointed out that this list is often created by the fans and thus not the fault of the players), a group i'll call the " Sucks to be you dude, but your fans went to the Ed Hardy institute of originality", or "Stbudbyfwttehioo™ ", we'll find the likes of:
A.D, The Big D, The Big O, The Big E, The Big D again, every name Shaq uses aside from diesel. trust me there are still a ton left, CB4, CP3, AI9 NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!, D-12, D-Fish, D-Rose ,D-Wade, D-Will, J-Kidd, T-Rob, Half Man/Half Amazing (what does that even mean, and is it even complimentary?), His Airness (superfluous much?), invincible (again, not sure v.c. has flattering nicknames. does this name mean he is unable to be himself? it would seem so based not only on this nickname, but on the fans efforts to rename him), krypto-nate (5'9 Nate Robinson. Clearly the Achilles heal for both Shaquille and Dwight) L.A., & L.O.
Is the default nicknaming protocol to just take a guys initials, and add their jersey number onto it? I like it in the case of D-12 (cultural reference) and CP3 (rhymes, though I REALLY wish he wore the number 30 cause I'm a dyslexic Star Wars fan).
I would be tickled pink if we could just mix in more Joel "The Vanilla Gorrilla" Przybilla, and less "T-mac". More Bill "The Owl without a Vowel" Mlkvy, and less dueling "K-Mart's". More Darko "The Human Victory Cigar" Milicic, and less Gilbert "Agent Zero" Arenas.
There are seven prominent men with the nickname "Red" (likely more) Auerbach, DeBernardi, Holzman, Kerr, Klotz, Mihalik & Sarachek. There are two "Kangaroo Kid's". Billy Cunningham & Jim Pollard. How does that happen? There is even something called "Dunkadelic Flight-361", which apparently translates to Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh & LeBron James somehow, and the mind erasingly, groin punchingly, ill concieved monstrosity that is Ko P. DeLARon which, if under the influence of a dosage that I have it on good word is no longer available, of lysergic acid diethylamide, may mean Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum & Ron Artest to you. I can safely say from experience that you don't want to go acquire any and repeat the phrase into your bathroom mirror over and over until you find meaning in that rubbish.
So now that you are off in double rainbow land wondering "what does this mean?" I'll cut to the chase. I am going to try my best Nuggets fans, to not get upset when people use the tired "AI9" nickname, when referring to our newest Nugget, but I'm going on record as saying that we should simply call him "Anddre" (the extra "d" is to make up for Anre Miller's absent d)
Maybe I'm over analyzing things? Maybe it is as it should be? Why get up in arms about something so trivial as attributing creative, fitting nicknames to the athletes we love and follow so closely?
Then again maybe it is more important than it seems on the surface, to put critical thought into pinning names on a man that will forever represent the sport based upon the name that either we assign to them, or they choose for themselves, to represent their legacy. I bet you didn't know "Mr Pro Basketball" was Freddy Zollner, or that the "Babe Ruth of Basketball" is someone named John Beckman. That would be just fine by me for irony points alone, if it were John Brockman, but i'm relatively sure that whenever this cat got his name, whomever ascribed it, thought it to be true.
You don't want to be the next "Funkmouth Fred Finklestien" (for the purposes of this piece he is the imaginary newsie in the 1930's that gave Beckman his moniker) do you?
Some of the better NBA nicknames.