Tag Archives: JaVale McGee

Which NBA Roster Has the Coolest Roll Call?

kings-names

By Jake Sweltz

The 2013-14 NBA season isn’t even a month old yet, and already I have watched roughly three and half games involving the Sacramento Kings.  I know, I can’t explain it either.

Besides serving as a harsh reminder that I’m allergic to using my free time productively, all that sweet Sac-town action has also brought me to a shocking and highly important revelation: a lot of the Kings have cool names.  Like, by far the coolest collection of names in the NBA.

Of course, it’s debatable whether the guy with the single most interesting moniker plays for Sacto.  But for my money, the Kings as a whole have the best roll call in pro basketball, and it’s not really close.

When I first suspected this might be the case, I took it upon myself to launch a full investigative inquiry.  What follows is a list of the top squads around the league, strictly based on strength of roster names.  Each team gets a starting five, plus a sixth man in parentheses.

Again, the players’ actual talent level played no part in these power rankings; we’re talking strictly phonological/orthographical aesthetics here.  Alliteration, consonance/assonance, exotic spellings, all that good stuff, plus all the other intangibles that just make a name tickle your fancy.

Here are the final results:

1.) Sacramento Kings – Boogie Cousins, Travis Outlaw, Greivis Vasquez, Jimmer Fredette, Luc Mbah a Moute (Chuck Hayes)

Notes: Take heart, Kings fans.  Your players mostly suck, but their names are awesome.  I know that Cousins’ real first name is DeMarcus, but c’mon.  Every true hoops fan knows he’s Boogie.  Chuck Hayes is a sneaky-great rap name, and “loo-koom-bah-ah-moo-tay” is just a beautiful string of syllables no matter how you slice it.  Bonus points to the Kings for also having the coolest stadium name in the NBA (Sleep Train Arena).

2.) San Antonio Spurs – Manu Ginobli, Kawhi Leonard, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter (Nando de Colo)

Notes: The Spurs have a reputation among casual fans for being a boring team, but their roster names are anything but.  “Tiago Splitter” has long flown under the radar as one of the more interesting and terrifying names in the league, and obviously I fully support the coolness credentials of the name “Boris,” especially when it belongs to a French black dude.  Kawhi and Ginobli sound as solid as ever, but the key that vaulted the Spurs to number two was their acquisition of Marco Belinelli and his spicy meatball of a moniker.

3.) New York Knickerbockers – Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert (Metta World Peace)

Notes: The Knicks have always been deep in the “cool name” department.  Bernard King, Dave DeBusschere, Latrell Sprewell, Walt Frazier…and those are just the guys who were actually good at basketball.  It seems like having a boss name just comes with the territory of playing in New York and having it plastered all over MSG.  Then again, that might explain why they decided to pay a completely useless Amar’e Stoudemire (and his epic name) a gajillion dollars every year for the next seventeen decades.

Anyway, this year’s Knicks field a strong squad as always.  Melo continues to be their franchise “cool name” cornerstone.  “Who Shot J.R.” Smith is a solid second banana, and both Shump and Prigioni feature underrated tags.  Even though Metta World Peace has an undoubtedly stylish NBA name, I’ve relegated “The Artest Formerly Known as Ron” to the bench since he kind of just gave it to himself.

4.) Denver Nuggets – Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee, Timofey Mozgov, Randy Foye (J. J. Hickson)

Notes: The symmetry in “JaVale McGee” is a treat to hear out loud, and the double capital letters in both his first and last names make it look great on the page, too.  Ty Lawson’s two-letter first name is undeniably cool, and “Timofey Mozgov” sounds like someone Steven Seagal would face off against in a cheesy action movie.  Also, this list has revealed my fondness for names of Italian origin, so naturally I had to include “Danilo Gallinari” in Denver’s starting five.  Saying that name aloud is a fun little workout for the tongue.

5.) Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo, Hedo Turkoglu, Maurice Harkless, Aaron Afflalo, Kyle O’Quinn (Tobias Harris)

Notes: The name “Victor Oladipo” is a priceless treasure, and I will fight anyone who tells me otherwise.  “Hedo Turkoglu” is a veteran cool name in this league, and I have to give props to anyone named “Tobias.”  Kendrick Lamar shouted out Aaron Afflalo on his song “Black Boy Fly,” and it was that cut that first drew my attention to Afflalo’s awe-inspiring name.  The alliteration factor is one thing, but saying it aloud evokes the image of a great phoenix rising from the ashes and spreading its wings.  It’s just beautiful.

6.) Detroit Pistons – Andre Drummond, Chauncey Billups, Luigi Datome, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rodney Stuckey (Charlie Villanueva)

Notes: It’s a common misconception that hyphenated last names are always fun and/or interesting, but that’s actually rarely the case.  As well as Michael Carter-Williams has played so far this year for the 76ers, his name is the equivalent of a late-period Terrance Malick movie: one long drag.  But if MCW is Malick, KCP is Tarantino; his name is an adventure, a heinous joyride of electric pulp.  My onomastic fetish for Italian names bumps “Luigi Datome” up a few notches, and “Rodney Stuckey” is a delightful throwback.  It sounds like an ABA name or something.

7.) Milwaukee Bucks – O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino (Ekpe Udoh)

Notes: I’m still not entirely sure how to pronounce Giannis’ last name, but it sure looks glorious on the page.  “Zaza” is one of the finer first names in the league, and I like to think of O.J. Mayo’s name as orange juice-flavored mayonnaise.  My bizarre affection toward Carlos Delfino’s name probably comes from its nostalgic association in my mind to the Nintendo GameCube’s Super Mario Sunshine, the most underrated gem in the Super Mario canon.

8.) Golden State Warriors – Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kent Bazemore, Festus Ezeli (Andrew Bogut)

Notes: The inclusion of Thompson in GSW’s starting five is solely based on the strength of his first name.  I’ve always liked the name “Clay,” and spelling it with a “K” is a small but inspired move.  It changes the whole tenor of the name without calling attention to itself as a creative alternate spelling (like in “Jrue Holiday”).  Everyone knows Iggy has a cool name, but I also want to give some shine to Kent Bazemore and Festus Ezeli for their underrated monikers.  As a side note, I just want to mention that whenever I see Andrew Bogut’s name on the page I always briefly read it as “Andrew Booger.”

9.) Chicago Bulls – Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Tony Snell (Kirk Hinrich)

Notes: Looking at this ranking again, I might have sold the Bulls a little short here.  Rose is a very dramatic last name, and I’ve always really appreciated the jaunty do-si-do of mouthing the name “Carlos Boozer.”  Deng and Noah’s names go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Tony Snell sounds like an oily bookie in a Scorsese flick, and Kirk Hinrich’s name is practically a palindrome.  I might have to re-think this whole situation.

10.) Washington Wizards – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nenê, Marcin Gortat, Trevor Ariza (Otto Porter Jr.)

Notes: Did you know Nenê’s name at birth was Maybyner Rodney Hilário?  That’s pretty legendary, but I’m still glad he went minimalist for his NBA tag.  The suprise addition of Gortat before the season hasn’t quite yielded the on-court results the Wiz were hoping for, but for the purposes of this list, that pickup couldn’t have been more crucial.  The strong two-syllable punch of “John Wall” is a great complement to the alliteration in Beal’s name.  And even though we haven’t really seen Otto Porter Jr. on the court in Washington, I’m giving him the sixth man designation because we all need more Ottos in our lives.

11.) Minnesota Timberwolves – Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Shabazz Muhammad, Alexey Shved (Gorgui Dieng)

Notes: The appeal of the names “Ricky Rubio” and “Shabazz Muhammad” is obvious, but what I really want to highlight on this roster is the severe beauty of “Alexey Shved.”  Big ups to the T’Wolves for employing a Siberian fur trapper; I’m sure he feels right at home in the frigid Minnesota cold.   Saying “J.J. Barea” is equivalent to shooting off a verbal “J.J. Beretta,” and obviously I have to show Kevin the love for “Love”.  Solid squad here, for sure.

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Rappers as Ballers: A Comparative Exercise

By Jake Sweltz

Like most hoops fans, I always get a little depressed after the NBA Finals are over, and so to distract myself from the barren wasteland of late summer sports coverage, I started dreaming up analogies likening various NBA stars to major figures in hip-hop music.  Here are some of the most interesting cases:

black-thoughtDuncan

Black Thought : Tim Duncan – One of the problems with being consistent is that you end up consistently under appreciated.  Both of these living legends eventually sacrificed their place at center stage to become invisible, disappearing in their roles as specialized components of a transcendent collaborative unit.  It’s a beautiful thing.

kanyeKobe

Kanye West : Kobe Bryant Three ways to describe these two towering cultural icons: perpetually divisive, obnoxiously egocentric, and undeniably brilliant.  Calling them “competitive” would be an understatement.  Kobe and Yeezus both work harder than anyone else in the game to stay on top.  Plus, everyone knows how much these guys love to mean mug.  And they’re masterful at it.

weezy

melo

Lil Wayne : Carmelo Anthony – Just look at these guys.  Obvious commonalities include: cocksure attitudes, love of the spotlight, and a certain brand of IDGAF exuberance that’s just downright endearing.  Performance-wise, they both seem to phone it in half the time, but hey, at least they’re always good for a few fun highlights along the way.

dre-3k

rose

Andre 3000 : Derrick Rose – “C’MON WHERE YOU BEEN MAN??!?!!??!?!”  Seriously, it’s been far too long since we had these artists of the form(s) in our lives.  Come back to us, please.  Give the people what they want.  (Note: Rose analogy also applicable to the immortal Mos Def/Yasiin Bey)

drakeblake

Drake : Blake Griffin – Two big softies with even bigger fan bases who show flashes of true brilliance, but still probably aren’t quite as talented as they think they are.  Either way, they both always manage to come off a little douchey.  (Note: Blake analogy also applicable to despicable yet charming G.O.O.D. Music associate Big Sean)

kendrick

durant

Kendrick Lamar : Kevin Durant – “Innovative young guns poised to take over the game,” say their disciples.  “Talented, but more than a little overrated,” respond their detractors.  EIther way, you can’t deny the spark these two bring when they step in the arena.  (Note: the K-Dot analogy is also applicable to the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry)

j-cole

dwight

J. Cole : Dwight Howard – Built up by early hype as future legends, these two have each either plateaued or stalled out somewhere along the way.  They’re both still looking to find that right balance of ability on the court/mic and likability offstage, but it’s becoming increasingly uncertain whether either of them will ever actually make “the leap” to true greatness.

tyga

deron

Tyga : Deron Williams – Ok, here’s how the typical experience of listening to Tyga rhyme slash watching Deron Williams play basketball plays out in my head: “Goddamn, does this dude ever actually exert any effort at what he does?  I swear, I just don’t understand how this guy ever got to be a professional–HOLY SHITBALLS THAT WAS FREAKING AMAZING.”  Rack City, bitch.

waka

javale

Waka Flocka Flame : JaVale McGee – Lovable buffoons who probably don’t belong on the radio/basketball court, but they always make you smile so what the hell.  (Note: Waka analogy also applicable to Ronny Turiaf or anybody on the Sacramento Kings)

jeezydavid-westYoung Jeezy : David West – Neither of these gents are particularly showy, but they’re steady in the pocket and stick to what they do well.  Aesthetically and stylistically, they’re both also nondescript and vaguely thuggish.

ghost

Kevin Garnett

Ghostface Killah : Kevin Garnett – What can I say?  Both these guys are intensity personified.  Alternately goofy and terrifying,  these two have been doing it for years and show no signs of stopping, despite diminishing returns with each album/season.

rick-ross

boozer

Rick Ross : Carlos Boozer – Besides the ubiquitous body ink, the baldness, and the hilarious facial hair, both of these would-be badasses started out as industry laughing stocks who eventually became indispensable fixtures on their respective teams, seemingly by default.  They’re each probably way more calculating about their absurd images than they let on.

q-tip

andre-miller

Q-Tip : Andre Miller – The veteran professors of their respective industries.   Both Miller and the Abstract have always been heady players, and they have each built fruitful and lucrative careers out of being brainy rather than brawny.

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cp3

NaS : Chris Paul – What we have here are two stubborn, embattled icons of the game who everyone agrees should probably get even more recognition than they already do for being so great, even as their careers remain bizarrely and frustratingly stunted by a number of strange industry factors.

jay-z

lebron

Jay-Z : LeBron James – Well, this one’s pretty obvious, right?  I know a lot of people would probably choose Kanye as LeBron’s hip-hop spirit animal, but look a little closer.  These two are literally the Kings of their respective domains.  Each of them are automatically the most relevant figures in the game, as well as the most recognizable among both casual fans and diehards alike.  There is simply no better comparison; these men are the Alpha Dogs.

all images courtesy of images.google.com