Basketball Names and How They Got That Way
The words and phrases are spoken and written
day after day, year after year - generally without any wonderment as to
how they became part of the language. All have a history, a story.
With the NBA All Star Game on the horizon and college basketball's "March
Madness" waiting in the wings - - for those of you who liked "Baseball
Names and How They Got That Way" and "Football Names and How They Got that
Way" -- here for your reading pleasure is some timely hoop stuff. As
always, reactions and suggestions most welcome.
ALL-WORLD Lloyd Free, National Basketball Association free soul, who
learned his basketball on the sidewalks of New York, gave himself this
nickname. Free was a little man in a world of giants who considered his
"rainbow shot," which went high in the air and down at the basket, worthy
of the nickname he dreamed up.
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.
40 MINUTES OF HELL University of Arkansas. Nolan Richardson's nonstop
pressure defense earned Arkansas a national championship in 1994 and got
them to the championship game in 1995.
"the Gilde" Clyde Drexler's role model was Julius Erving. "He seemed to
fly. I wanted to be like him,'' said Drexler, who earned the nickname
"Clyde the Glide'' for his own swooping moves.
KOBE LA star Kobe Bryant was named after a "Kobe" steak listed on the
menu of a Japanese restaurant or as the story goes for a Japanese
OWL WITHOUT A VOWEL (Bill Mlkvy) Bill played forward for the Temple
University Owls basketball team. Since his last name does not contain a
vowel, he became "the owl without a vowel."
PISTOL PETE From 1967 to 1970 Louisiana State University's Pete Maravich,
a skinny guard with floppy socks, was the leading collegiate basketball
point-scorer in the United States. He scored nearly 4,000 points,
averaging almost 45 points a game, during his varsity career. Press
Maravich, his father and also his LSU coach, gave him his nickname. It was
a reference to the young Maravich's quick-trigger shot release and his
scoring ability. Pistol Pete continued his illustrious career with the
Atlanta Hawks and then the New Orleans Jazz of the NBA. Scoring, passing
the ball between his legs or behind his back, showing off a bewildering
variety of shots, Maravich became one of the top guns in pro basketball.
He was immortalized in "The Ballad of Peter Maravich," written by Woody
Jenkins: Maravich, oh Maravich, Love to fake, love to score,
Love to hear the people roar. Just a boy of 22, You made a name at LSU.
PODOLOFF CUP A trophy awarded annually to the National Basketball
Association's Most Valuable Player, it is named in honor of Maurice
Podoloff, the first commissioner of the NBA, who was, curiously, just five
"YES" Broadcaster Marv Albert's signature call for a shot made.
"X" Xavier McDaniel had some moments of glory for several different NBA
"Z" Zydrunas Ilgauskas of the Cleveland Cavaliers is a 7-foot-3, $60
million investment with a name that for some is tough to pronounce.
"ZO" Abbreviation of long time power forward/center Alzonzo Mourning's
# # #
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Harvey Frommer at:
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.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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