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What's In An NBA Name?  Part IV

With the NBA season in full swing - new dres code and all, with new names on the scene and some players and coaches in different positions than they were a year ago  - with the language of basketball all over the place - it's interesting to sample some of the sport's  "big" nicknames and how they go that way.

"Big Aristotle" (Diesel) Shaquille O'Neal, for his size and alleged philosophical bent.

"Big Country"  Bryant Reeves, for his rural roots and size.  "Big D"  Former New York Knick Dave DeBussure never backed down from a challenge and played bigger than his 6'6" frame.

"Big Dipper" His full name was Wilton Norman Chamberlain. He was born in 1936 in Philadelphia and grew up to be 7-1 and 275 pounds. Voted in as one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978. His nickname was the Big Dipper, and he named his Los Angeles mansion Ursa Major, the astronomic term for the Big Dipper constellation.  There was a
retractable roof over Chamberlain's bed  - Big Dipper watching Big Dipper.                                                                              

"BIG "E" At 6'9" and 230 pounds, Elvin Hayes was an intimidating performer in the NBA. The former University of Houston All-American, a fine shooter and rebounder, earned his nickname for his size, performance, and appeal.

"Big Fella"  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had this nickname because of his size. Others were "Cap" and "The Captain" for his leadership.  "Big Game James" The former LA Laker star James Worthy rose to the occasion in prime time moments.  "Big Nasty"  Corliss Williamson, long-time NBA player, tough-minded and all business.  

Big  "O" THE Oscar Robertson was big at 6'5" and 205  pounds, but the nickname all of basketball knew him by came more from his big skills than his size. Robertson was a great shooter, a great passer, and a tremendous defensive player. Former Boston Celtic coach Red Auerbach once remarked, "He's so great he scares me. He can beat you all by himself and usually does." Robertson was selected to the All-Star team each year of his playing career and that was just another reason for his nickname-the Big "O" stood not for zero, but for oh! "Big Smooth" The large Sam Perkins played for several NBA teams - always with grace and ease.

"Big Ticket"  Kevin Garnett came into the NBA as a teenager and was called "Da Kid." His more permanent  nickname derives from the skills and showmanship he displays game after game for  Minnesota.

(to be continued)

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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