Thursday, June 30, 2011
Top 5 Premature Nicknames
It's no secret that the golden age of the nickname is far, far behind us. Back in the day, when Hater J was but a glimmer of hate in his father's eye, most rosters were full of classic nicknames like "High Pockets" and "Scooter". Now, we just call a guy by his first initial and first 3 letters of his surname and that's your new nickname. Boringggg. Nicknames aren't always fun and games though. In the wrong hands, they can curse an otherwise average athlete with high expectations and leave them open for ridicule from wiseacre bloggers with too much time on their hands as well as fans all over the world for years after their modest careers have gone by the wayside. What were the five most egregiously premature athlete nicknames? LIST TIME!
5) Gerald Wilkens AKA "The Jordan Stopper"
Poor Gerald Wilkens. Not only did he have to play ball in the shadow of an older brother who had a very appropriate nickname, but he was also labelled with an oxymoronic nickname himself, if ever there was one. First of all, nobody could stop Jordan in the early '90s and if anyone could come close, it wasn't Nique's little brother who was a decent finisher (he represented the Knicks in the dunk contest one season) and an above average defender but this is "Come Fly with Me" era Michael we're talking about here. Predictably, his Airness made a mockery of whatever Knick was thrown his way, and Gerald was the other guy in the poster for two different teams. He played Frederic Weis to Michael's other buzzer beater in Cleveland (not as popular as the Ehlo shot but still noteworthy) and repeatedly got shitted on by Mike as a Knick. From Gerald's Wiki page: "He was even labeled as "the Jordan stopper," although he had trouble guarding Jordan". Seems like an odd choice for a nickname unless they were being sarcastic.
4)Ruben Patterson AKA "The Kobe Stopper"
Maybe worse than the Jordan stopper label since the Portland forward and accused rapist gave himself this name before repeatedly getting bitch slapped by the then number 8. This may be the greatest match up between two players accused of sexual assault in sports history (unless LT comes out of retirement and sacks Roethlisberger), and we all know who got the best of the matchups on the basketball court as well as criminal court. Portland never played the Lakers during the Jail blazer era of which Ruben was the poster boy, and they pretty much owned LA at the Rose Garden for the past decade, but those 2 shots above are enough to pretty much refute any sort of "stopper" claims. The lesson learned by these first 2 guys is never nickname yourself a stopper of anyone, especially if they're these two guys.
3)Harold Miner aka "Baby Jordan"
Harold Miner was hyped as the next great one, a high flying show stopper who could throw it down with the best of them earning him the nickname (along with his bald head) of Baby Jordan. That's a lot of pressure to live up to, and as we all know, premature Jordan comparisons are nothing new. They have been wrongfully attached to Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant (maybe the closest), LeBron James and a few others, and those guys aren't even close, so you can imagine how a offensively limited tiny guard from USC fared. His one shining moment was a dunk contest win, but he soon disappeared from the league never to be heard from again aside from strange rumors and the occasional "worst nickname" blog post.
2)LeBron James AKA "King James"
Bron has been getting tons of grief from every corner of the Earth. People who I don't think ever watched basketball did so in order to hate on the man. Babe Ruth might not be revolutionary but King James changed the hating game. I know people who never watched basketball, let alone care enough to actively root against a player or team, who this season watched every minute of the Finals just to hate. In that way, I guess LeBron is the king of something: being hated. And the nickname is a big part of it. It's just a play on the Biblical King James name that made some sense as he rose to stardom from high school, but now is just another annoying aspect of his personality that we all love to hate. It's not good to be the King when you haven't earned anything.
1) John Franklin "Home Run" Baker
Imagine being Philadelphia Athletics and Yankees third baseman John Franklin Baker, nicknamed Home Run because of your long ball prowess. You think your hot stuff, you even led the league in dingers 4 straight seasons with out of this world numbers. You hit the ball out of the park (not off the wall or onto the grass like the rest of the weakling contemporary players), you actually hit the ball over the fence not once or twice but 9 times and one season 11 times. Then a guy like Babe Ruth comes along and thanks to the timing of his career and the changing games and ball parks (according to some) your nickname now seems like a cruel joke. It's like saying Slam Dunk Charles Oakley or Jared "The Marksman" Jeffries. Sucks to be you, Home Run Baker.