This past week, Deadspin posted another edition of “Let’s Remember Some Guys,” where their staff writers open up a pack of old school sports trading cards and, well, remember some guys. In this most recent episode, they got to talking about how 90s era NBA nicknames– like David “The Admiral” Robinson, or Karl “The Mailman” Malone, or John “Spider” Salley, or Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, or Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, or Dominique “The Human Highlight Film” Wilkins, or Dennis “The Worm” Rodman, AND THIS IS JUST OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD– were so much better than the inscrutable mismash of numbers and letters that pass for nicknames in today’s NBA. Or really in all of sports. CP3. TB12. PG13. Yuck.
Consider that last one as a case in point. PG13 is Paul George, currently of the Oklahoma City Thunder. And what’s the deal with that nickname? Well, it seems like a reference to the MPAA movie rating “PG-13,” which warns parents that some of the content in this next in a seemingly endless series of superhero movies “…may be inappropriate for children under 13.” Is Paul George a cinephile? Does he love PG-13 movies? Nope. Or, rather, I have no idea. But you know who definitely does? Bill Simmons. If you will recall, back during George’s star-making, pre-horrifying injury stint with the Pacers, he wore number 24 and his nickname was, this being the modern NBA, PG. Perhaps based on nothing more than his undying love for the Karate Kid, Simmons started lobbying for George to change his number to 13 for the sole purpose of bringing the PG13 nickname into existence. And it worked! So now, like a real life episode of Family Guy, Paul George has a nickname that is a reference devoid of any context or deeper meaning. It just is. PG13, get it? Like the movies!
Kevin Durant’s steetball nickname is, famously, “Kevin.” And this is despite his having “Slim Reaper” just sitting there, waiting, pleading to be memorialized in an awesome 80s throwback poster. LeBron James’ nickname is “King James,” which is fine I guess, but it’s so derivative of Charles Barkley’s “Sir Charles.” I’ve seen people on the internet say Aaron Rodgers’ nickname should be “The King of the North.” And, um, yes, it absolutely should. Look at how epic the guy looks throwing the ball in the snow on Lambeau Field.
(As and aside, if Rodgers is Jon Snow, does that make Clay Matthews Lady Mormont? That’d be a State Farm commercial I could get behind.) But is “The King of the North” his nickname? No. What is it instead? Aaron.
Or take Nick Foles. At one point it seems that people were trying to call him “Nikki Sixx,” a nonsensical reference to the bassist from the 80s hair metal band Motley Crue, presumably because touchdowns are worth six points! But after that didn’t stick and Foles receded into the wilds of Kansas City before landing on the bench behind Carson Wentz, people forgot about nicknaming a backup quarterback. But now that Foles is the surprise starter for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, the nickname issue is back. According to the internet, the nickname Foles is currently working with is Saint Nick. This is apparently a reference to his profound religiosity. And, ok, at least that nickname is representative of something that actually has anything to do with Foles. Certainly better than NF9.
But Saint Nick? Like, big fat Santa Claus? Jolly, rosy cheeked, cookie and milk guzzling Saint Nicholas who brings presents to all the nice boys and girls and sits in strident judgement of all the naughty ones? Foles could do so much better. I was astonished to find that despite all my googling, no one seems to have done anything with the Foles / foals homophone. Nick Foles is just begging for a horse-related nickname. Dude’s got good arm strength, right? Why can’t we call him “The War Horse” and incorporate this amazing WWI horse with a freaking machine gun mounted on his back?
Now that’s a nickname! So if Foles gets out there tonight in Minneapolis and tears up the Patriots like he did the Vikings, let’s do the man a favor and give him a proper, cool nickname. The War Horse! And if he doesn’t, well then, no one’s going to be clamoring for a nickname for him anymore. But I hope The War Horse shows up.
Enjoy the Super Bowl.
Fly Eagles fly.
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