Cavaliers, General, WWW

WWW: What’s in a (Nick) Name?

Good Tuesday morning WFNY! Corey filling in for Andrew who is on special assignment trying to track down Bill Waterson’s home in Cleveland Heights and convince him to become WFNY’s artist in residence.

I hope everyone enjoyed Game 4 last night. I missed part of the first half when my five-week-old daughter decided that instead of sleeping she would rather scream, get a new diaper, scream, burp, spit up on my shoulder, and scream. I did catch the second half, however, and was truly impressed with the Cavs’ balanced attack. Every fanbase wants their team to peak in the playoffs, but Cleveland appears to finally be playing inspired basketball. All it took was 93 games.

Monday afternoon I stumbled on a fantastic thread and remembered that sometimes Twitter can be a wonderful neighborhood. Historian and author Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) shared with the world a list of Chinese internet nicknames for NBA players.

The NBA is obviously popular in the United States, especially with younger fans, but the Association is also closely monitored in China. Not surprisingly, some of the very American names do not translate perfectly into the native tongue so Chinese fans have created their own nicknames for the game’s biggest players. I strongly encourage everyone to check out the full thread and give Nick a follow, but here are a few of my favorites:

It’s hard to get bigger than a king, but emperor may, in fact, top that royal distinction. I’m hard-pressed to consider James as “little,” but the “spoiled only child” moniker is no doubt fodder for all the James haters who claim he gets every call and also serves as general manager.


Wait what? I might not be a fan of Curry when he reaches The Finals, but there is no denying his prowess at basketball. Still, to consider a player so good he can enjoy congress with clouds is another level of performance. Personally, I am perfectly fine with everyone referring to him exclusively as “The Elementary School Student” for the rest of his career.

Oooh, “The Demon Blade.” Now that is a nickname. I’ve never found Ginobili especially demonic but when you consider his high level of play at his relatively old age it’s fair to wonder if he has made some sort of deal with the devil.

The best part of this nickname is that it mixes in a dig at Thompson’s albatross of a contract while also acknowledging that he absolutely got paid. My only feedback is that it’s a little too close to King James. But then again if Lebron is the Emperor now then maybe a king can serve under his domain.


Double co-sign.

Again, I encourage everyone to take a look at the full list as there are some truly delightful ones out there. Obviously, a few Cavaliers did not get the nickname honor so I took the liberty of filling in a few the gaps:

Kevin Love: The Banana (Banana Republic spokesperson and second banana on the team)

Kyle Korver: The Katapult (launches three-pointers on a high arc like a trebuchet)

Ante Zizic: The Alphabet (he goes from A to Z)

The more nicknames a sport’s players have, the more entertaining that sport becomes. The Big Four leagues appear to have forgotten this as nicknames like “KD,” “AD,” and “RJ” have become the de facto shorthands for the leagues’ stars.1 We as a viewing public need to get back to old-timey baseball-level nicknames.

For example, from 1903-1911 the Pirates and Cubs employed a young man named Jack “The Giant Killer” Pfiester. Jack went 11-5 against the New York Giants in his career. One of his contemporaries on the Chicago staff was Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, so called because he was missing a few digits on his pitching hand thanks to a boyhood farming incident. Brown won 29 games in 1908 as the Cubs won the championship. Some names were literally cool. James Bell could have been any man, but Cool Papa Bell was a Negro League legend. Ty Cobb was “The Georgia Peach.” Chicago fans adored Johnny “The Crab” Evers. Batters feared Walter “The Big Train” Johnson. We should all aspire to the same level as Willie “Hit ‘Em Where They Ain’t” Keeler.

So, let’s not defer all nickname responsibilities to our friends in China. Let today serve as a rallying cry and a chance for us to properly re-name our sports heroes.

  1. Editor note: This is also relevant in MLB when any player with the surnames “Rodriguez” or “Martinez” is simply first initial-Rod or -Mart. It worked for Alex, it kinda worked for Victor, but you can’t really tell me it works for Boston Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. []