Naming And Shaming

There is a reason that some people struggle to take professional sports seriously. Professional sportspeople are often arrogant, overpaid, egomaniacal and hyper-competitive…actually, come to think about it, I may have just specifically defined Kobe Bryant.

But the thing not thought of so often in terms of professional sportspeople is the ridiculousness of their names. And in my preferred sport of choice, professional basketball. It’s got to the point that if players are successful enough, we actually look past their names and take them for granted. LeBron James? Carmelo Anthony? LaDainian Tomlinson? Taylor Walker? Ridiculous.

So while reading an innocuous article of the preseason top 25 in college hoops, I compiled a list of the 25 most inane names in the article. Bear in mind this covers ONLY college basketball, ONLY 25 teams that were reviewed and out of each team only a few PLAYERS were mentioned. Hang on…I’ve got to get better at capitalising.

Without further ado:

— The unlucky few —

All these were wonderfully idiotic names, but not ridiculous enough to make the top 25. So, apologies to Marquis Teague (Kentucky), Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette), Nolan Smith (Duke), Adonis Thomas (Memphis), Tarik Black (Memphis), Garrett Stutz (Wichita State) and Jae Crowder (Marquette).

— The 5 heartbreaking cuts —

30: Chane Behanan (Louisville)
This is probably a brutal mis-spelling of ‘Shane’ (see also Shayne and, amazingly, Cheynee) but the ‘an’s (3 total) almost got him in because of the madness of basically calling a kid Anananana. Just call him banana and finish him off already.

29: Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas)
Okay, I’ll admit it. This name’s actually kinda cool. Alliteration works, crazy first name with a sensible last name sometimes works too. I would hang out with Tyshawn Taylor. He may feel differently though.

28: JT Durley (Wichita State)
There is a 100% chance JT Durley started out life (yes, from birth) in a boy band. He also may have been Harry Potter’s cousin’s stage name after he lost the baby fat.

27: Tu Holloway (Xavier)
He beat out Juan Holloway for this spot (ba-dum-ching!)

26: Renardo Sidney (Mississippi State)
Renardo Sidney is quite a well-known player and right on the verge of my, ‘players-whose-stupid-name-we-overlook-because-of-their-success’ list. I had to look twice to realise that his entire being is a car advertisement.
“The all-new Renardo Sidney comes with cruise control, power windows, twin cam engine and all-leather interior. From only $39,000 drive away. Renardo. We know cars.”

— The Top Twenty-Phyve —
See what I did there?

25. Brad Wanamaker (Pittsburgh)
I am almost positive that Brad Wanamaker comes from a long line of wand craftsmen. His own personal wand has unicorn hair and dragon heart-string at his core. It is a 13-inch, flexible oak wand capable of performing some wonderful acts of wizardry. He also plays for Pittsburgh. Steel City Wizardry. That’s blue-collar – probably couldn’t afford to go to Hogwarts, dropped out of school and took a job in a lumber yard.

Brad Wanamaker looked a little ragged after last year's March Madness

24. Yancy Gates (Cincinnati)
Yancy Gates got all the breaks that Brad Wanamaker didn’t. Born into money through the Northern Irish aristocracy, Yancy literally danced his way to recognition at the University of Cincinnati. His rendition of Swan Lake…scintillating. I can only imagine that Yancy Gates looks like Hugh Parkfield, Lisa Simpson’s first true love. Pfft. Cake-eater.

23. Roscoe Smith (UConn)
Roscoe is a dog’s name. A tough dog, no question, one that has been through the wringer, possibly including an underground dog-fighting ring (ask Michael Vick, they do exist) but a dog nonetheless. Try and say it out loud without then whistling and saying, ‘here boy!’ I dare you. You can’t. You’ll probably even add a couple of clicks at the end.

Just to be safe, Huskies coach Jim Calhoun should put a tag around Roscoe Smith’s neck at all times with a label reading, ‘if lost please return to Jim Calhoun courtesy of Gampel Arena’.

Also, Huskies are dogs. My logic is flawless and circular.

22. Quincy Acy (Baylor)
Baylor is the only team in the NCAA…you know what, I’m just going to make the call – in the UNIVERSE – with two players named ‘Quincy’. Quincy Miller is their second gun Quincy. They are both quintessential to the team, eat quinces a lot and their favourite Transformers were the Quintessons. Mine too.
Quincy Acy gets the edge over Quincy Miller only because he sounds like he might have been a snitch in The Wire.

Two players named Quincy. What’s the world coming to?

21. Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt)
Do I acknowledge the blatant, flat-out hilarity of this name above some of the ones I’ve chosen higher? Yes. Apart from being a king in biblical times, Festus Ezeli sounds like a particularly nasty bacteria, the kind that you can only catch from capsizing in the River Torrens and takes weeks of medical attention to defeat. However, it seems super-Turkish (the Turks love their Z’s in names) and I’ve become immune to weird Turkish names because of NBA players like Enes Kanter, Mehmet Okur and Hidayet Turkoglu. Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny that a case of Festus Ezeli would have you on the toilet for days on end.

Funny thought: If I turned that name backwards, would it make any more sense? Ileze Sutsef. I think it’s actually slightly more normal. Well then.

20. Scoop Jardine (Syracuse)
I’m hanging with Scoop Jar-dine. Car-melo and me. Around Syracuse, we did roam. Went to his game. He’s got a crap name, ye-eah. He got his crap name on, the day he was born.”

Oh come on. You don’t know Sloop John B? Shame on you. Go listen to some classic Beach Boys.

19. Erik Murphy (Florida)
I’ll freely admit this name doesn’t seem very funny, unless you watch or have watched Entourage*, in which case it becomes extremely funny as a Viking-themed version of main character Eric Murphy. I imagine Erik Murphy pillaged coastlines for many years, before becoming a whiny, over-achieving player who piggybacks success off Vinkent Khase, a better-looking but equally poor actor…I mean Viking.

* Don’t watch Entourage. It sucks.

18. Reeves Nelson (UCLA)
I wonder if Reeves Nelson’s parents are disappointed that he didn’t grow up to become a butler. It’s straight out of your classic butler namebook. The name Reeves, by law, has to be synonymous with either low-level royalty or butlering of the highest calibre, which are really the same thing if you think about it.

17. Kemba Walker (UConn)
The most famous player of the group and the one who fits in best at reunions of stage shows of The Lion King. Kemba’s destiny was foretold when a babboon wiped pomegranate juice on his face (note: in real life, it was probably faeces. Just saying.) and lifted him high over a cliff for all to see. When Michael Jackson does it, they call it crazy but when an animated babboon does it it’s fine? That’s America for you. On the plus side, I don’t think Kemba’s father was killed when his deranged uncle shoved him into a wildebeest stampede, so he’s got that going for him.

Also, on June 21, 2011, Kemba Walker released a mixtape in collaboration with DJ Skee and Skee Sports. The mixtape features songs inspired by and inspiring to Kemba. That part’s actually true. I think that’s my favourite bit. A mixtape? Classic.

16. Toure Murry (Wichita State)
This name could either be a really weak cycling competition, a small town in Scotland (Touremurry) or a local, misspelt but heartfelt attempt to draw tourists back to Australia’s longest river.

You know what it can’t be though? That’s right. A human being’s name.

I really want to take that ‘e’ and put it in Murry. Tour Murrey. It didn’t make me feel better. Now it’s definitely a local, misspelt but heartfelt attempt to draw tourists back to Australia’s longest river. Bless ’em for trying though.

15. Doron Lamb (Kentucky)
The Chef’s Special this evening is the doron lamb, with mint jelly, chickpeas, butternut pumpkin, sauteed broccoli and a healthy dose of salt and pepper. This tasty meat dish hails from Bulgaria, where natives treasure it for its organic emetic effect.


14. Dion Waiters (Syracuse)
Does he? (sniggers) No, but he’ll have to if he loses his scholarship! (more snickering) He-hey Dion! Are your Mum and Dad Waiters too? Yeah? Well maybe some day they’ll be Managers! BAHAHAHAHAAAAA! Oh come on…are you…are you crying? Now I just feel bad.

13. Wesley Witherspoon (Memphis)
There is a surprising history of basketballers named Witherspoon. Teresa Witherspoon was one of the WNBA’s brightest stars. And former 76ers forward Clarence Weatherspoon has a similar name, which really means less than nothing. I dunno, I guess I just assumed that Wesley Witherspoon was the name of Richie Rich’s mean cousin or something, not a semi-known college basketball player.

Nope. Turns out it’s Reggie Van Dough Jr. Of course it is.

12. Lazeric Jones (UCLA)
Pretty sure this is Cylops’ real name. Scott Summers is a pseudonym of a pseudonym. A duodonym. Lazeric Jones could also be part robot, but if so he can scan barcodes with his eyes. It was a better party trick until all those iPhone apps came along. Now he’s a pseudonym duodonym anachronism. Lazeric Jones should change his name to Dean. Everyone loves Dean Jones.

11. Dee Bost (Mississippi State)
Here are some anagrams of Dee Bost’s name, courtesy of (the magic of words!):
Bed Toes…..Bod Tees…..Best Ode…..Bet Dose….Bee Dots…..Beets Do…..O, Bedset!

Dee Bost’s name defies description, but it feels like something I could tie my boat to.


10. Talib Zanna (Pittsburgh)
Talib Zanna is without question a spell used in the Harry Potter franchise. I believe its exact use is to confuse intelligent objects (not be mistaken for ‘Confundo!’) or to procure entrees, using a device created by Brad Wanamaker.
And voila! You have an anti-pasto dish, a selection of dukkas and turkish bread and one befuddled host. And you’ve overcome your mortal enemy. Well done.


9. Nathan Walkup (Texas A&M)
I don’t know why, but this name just slays me.

8. LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor)
With all the bizarre little prefixes running around professional sports (La, Le, Sha, Jy, Ty etc), none come along stronger than LaceDarius Dunn’s. If Mamma Dunn had gone with a simple Darius Dunn, there’s a high chance he ends up as an action star. It’s a cool name. Persian kings have cool names, particularly when alliterative. Who wouldn’t want to be named Nebuchednezzar Naismith or Xerxes Xopolous? But no. It wasn’t to be. Instead, LaceDarius is doomed to have not a cool Persian Warrior Alliteration, but instead cursed with a scrapbooker’s dream prefix. Lace.

7. Mason Plumlee (Duke)
Mason Plumlee turned to basketball after his career in taking ridiculous, goofy photographs was swiftly curtailed due to lack of demand. After graduating from high school (yearbook: Most Likely To Take Ridiculous, Goofy Photographs) he got a sports scholarship to Duke to his height, good ball-handling skills and ridiculous, goofy hotographs.

Mason Plumlee didn't really his goofy smile actually accentuated his name, rather than diminshing it. How unfortunate.

Mason Plumlee was named after a now extinct bird with a long neck, wide mouth and extremely white feathers. Like, fluffy cloud white. They were really white feathers man, what can I say.

6. Khem Birch (Pittsburgh)
A Khem Birch is a technical term for stripping paint from objects using illegal Russian chemicals. They may or may not have come from Chernobyl (hint: they did). The use of a Khem Birch can land you a $50,000 fine in most Western countries, except for in Liechtenstein, where it’s legal just because they like to be different. That is sooooo like them. Gosh Liechtenstein. Can’t you be like your big brother Luxembourg? You never see HIM putting Khem Birch’s into legislature! Just wait until I tell your father about this. He will Khem Birch you until you weep boy! Then you’ll be sorry!

Vander Blue (Marquette)
I once painted my bedroom Vander Blue. It…looked…awful.

I probably should have gone with…

4. JyMychal Green (Alabama)
JyMychal Green offends every one of my sensibilities regarding the English language. It’s as if his parents took a bunch of letters, threw them in a blender then agreed to take what came out…NO WAIT! Only if we can exchange all the ‘I’s for ‘Y’s. I just threw up in my mouth.

Let’s count off the checklist:
a) Pretentious attempt at a prefix (check)
b) Offensive mis-spelling of real name (check)
c) Blended name (check)
d) Residents of the Czech Republic (Czech)
e) Name that is pronounced COMPLETELY differently to its phonetics (check)
Imagine if we tried to pronounce it phonetically…instead of ‘Jar-Michael’, we’d have ‘Jai-my-chowl’. Which sounds like an old Southern woman screaming at her grandson (Jai) to fetch her shawl.

To be honest, it’s a real tip of the cap to the other contenders that JyMychal couldn’t get higher than 4th. But it’s hard to put him above…

3. Fab Melo (Syracuse)
Fab Melo is a fashion designer on the Ellen Show. Fab Melo is constantly frustrated by Ellen’s desires to wear relatively plain clothing. Fab Melo is a big fan of Carnivale and would like to see people wearing feathers and beads as a regular occurence. Fab Melo enjoys samba dancing, sailing and drinking chardonnay. Fab Melo is a big fan of traveling to New Orleans and Brazil. Fab Melo is short for Fabreeze Melonoma. Fab Melo is happier to be known as Fab Melo.

2. Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State)
Bond walked across the crowded casino floor, scanning for De Ruiz. Still no sign. He strode across to the bar and got the attention of the bartender. Syrian in appearance, lightly built with thinning dark hair and a thin mustache. In fact, everything about the man was thin. Bond eyed him forcefully before speaking. “Vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.” The bartender looked at him, puzzled. “Surely you can do that for me?” The bartender shook his head seriously. “Sir, that may hold water in Monte Carlo, but here in Mississippi we serve one cocktail and one only: the Arnett Moultrie.” Bond looked at him in astonishment. “One cocktail?” The bartender nodded, then smiled. “Plenty of Jack Daniels though”. Bond grunted softly, wryly. “Right then. I guess I’ll take an Arnett Moultrie.” What’s in it?”. The slender man leaned down and reached behind the bar as he began to make the cocktail. “2 parts gin, 1 bourbon, a splash of cranberry juice and lemon,” the sound of ice and stirring could be heard from beneath the counter. “A few ice cubes, a pinch of sugar…and I’ll take that Walther PPK you’re holding.” He came back up, holding a pistol of his own, to find the bar empty. He scanned the casino in alarm, before reaching swiftly behind him for a pit phone. “Now, now, we won’t be needing that.” Behind him, Walther in hand, was Bond. He smiled grimly, then gestured to the bartender. “Drop the gun. NOW! Very good.” As the bartender began to stand again, Bond swiftly coldcocked him, gently lowered his unconscious body to the ground before gagging and tying him with some of his own dishcloths. Stuffing the body next to the ice chest, Bond began to leave. He paused, thinking “Almost forgot my Arnett Moultrie.” He took sniffed, took a sip and put it down on the counter in disappointment, looking down at the prone form of the bartender. “Too much lemon…not enough body,” he quipped, before placing an ‘Unattended’ sign on the bar and striding away.

I may have gotten a little carried away there.

That Arnett Moultrie looks a little dry, don't you think?

1 Shabazz Napier (Connecticut)
The undisputed number 1 in my book. Unless you’re a genie in a beloved children’s cartoon, you CANNOT name your child Shabazz. Even if you have two friends named Shazza and Bazza who saved your life, you CANNOT respond by naming your child Shabazz. Just buy them some Cadbury’s favourites. Even if your favourite uncle is a witchdoctor from Burkina Faso, you CANNOT name your child Shabazz. Even if you are a complete and total raving lunatic and you marry another complete and total raving lunatic, you CANNOT NAME YOUR CHILD SHABAZZ!!!!! Napier’s fine, I guess. Rhymes with rapier. That’s a sword. I’m betting Shabazz Napier uses all kinds of s-words to curse out his parents for naming him ‘Shabazz’.

Did you mean: Shiraz?

But you know what Shabazz? You won! And now you can hold your head high as you daily deal with people on the phone saying, “I’m…I’m sorry did you say ‘Shabazz?” or “Could you spell that for me?” And next time Google, or worse, Microsoft Word pops up with its smug little paperclip and says, “Did you mean: Showbiz?” you can look it straight in the eye and say, “you know something paperclip, I’m a human being and I do NOT have to take that! I have the right to my dignity! My name is Shabazz. SHABAZZ!” Then you’ll look around feeling like an idiot for yelling at a computer paperclip and hoping desperately noone heard you.

Shabazz Napier, you have the worst name in this short article of basketball players with terrible names.

I’d also like to formally congratulate North Carolina (Tar Heels wha-what!), Arizona and Missouri for being the only 3 teams NOT to have someone with a stupid name. Quite the ordinary achievement. Arizona should be grateful Chase Budinger isn’t there any more.

But when it comes down to it, even these names can’t top the majestic idiocy of Australia’s very own Steele Sidebottom.
The man has a name so amusing he actually won the Name of the Year for 2010 on the wonderful Name of the Year blog (2011 ballots now open).

Honestly...what else is there to say?

As a man of the people, I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks. Who should have won the Name of the Article from my Top 5?


2 thoughts on “Naming And Shaming

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