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
"Big Aristotle" (Diesel) Shaquille O'Neal, for his size and alleged
"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
retractable roof over Chamberlain's bed - Big Dipper watching Big
"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
(to be continued)
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Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
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"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
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