Monday, April 2, 2012

They Call Me Mr. Tibbs!

I watched ESPN Sportscenter this morning, basically for highlights from the Celtics/Heat game from last night.  I saw the game, but sometimes I like to watch reactions to good games from commentators, and see which highlights they show.  Anyway, I realized, as I watched, that more often than not, superstars were referred to by shortened versions of their names or initials, instead of their last names (normal) or clever nicknames (cool).  This made me wonder what happened to modern sports writing.  Can no one coin a good nickname anymore?

KD goes around CP3...  sounds lame
What happened to clever nicknames for sports icons?  This isn't just basketball stars being shortchanged cool monikers.  Robert Griffin III, the newest Heisman winner, is referred to as RG3.  No one could come up with something clever for the Baylor athlete famous for the socks he wears?  RG3 is uninspired.

The NBA is notorious lately for branding their superstars by their initials and shortened versions of their actual name.  KG, KD, DWade, JKidd, CP3, AI, TMac, VC are all good examples.  The only player that has been nicknamed with his initials that is in anyway clever is Andre Kirilenko.  He is Russian an wears number 47.  So calling him AK47 is awesome.  Other than that...  come up with something better.  Even Jordan, one of the top 3 best players in the game's history, is often referred to as MJ, even when Air Jordan and His Airness have been used before.  

One may argue that Jeremy Lin started some clever branding.  But Linsanity sounds an awful lot like Vinsanity...  Vince Carter was a sensation in the '90s.  Once again, modern broadcasting can't be original.

Chocolate Thunder and Dr J Have a Word...  now THATS a caption!
What happened to the days of broadcasting nicknames like Chocolate Thunder, the Hick from French Lick, The Houdini of the Hardwood, Black Magic?  I like that Walt Frazier's nickname was Clyde.  I like that Wilt Chamberlain was called the Big Dipper, because he had to duck to get through doors.  I like that Magic Johnson is still referred to as Magic Johnson, long after he has retired and become an analyst.  No one calls him Ervin.  No one talks about Julius Erving either, but everyone knows Dr. J.

Currently there are a few NBA stars that have clever, well coined nicknames.  Like Kobe Bryant is the Black Mamba, and Paul Pierce is the Truth.  I think a first step would be for players to embrace the clever nicknames.  Maybe not as enthusiastically as the Shaqtus/Big Aristotle/Big Diesel/Superman/Big Shamrock, who gave himself most of those nicknames.

There is a similar post and project here on Both Teams Played Hard.  It has a list of current and former nicknames for players, all better than the cheap initials used primarily for players that have slightly less well known tags.
Pierce wears his nickname with pride

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