Basketball nicknames, once a proud tradition (The Big Dipper, Wilt the Stilt, The Round Mound of Rebound, Pistol Pete, The Hick from French Lick, Plastic Man, to name a few) have fallen on hard times. D-Wade? T-Mac? Timmy? C-Bosh? Are these even nicknames?
Ok, so Birdman (Chris Andersen) and the Red Mamba (Matt Bonner) are GOOD, but overall we’ve gotten lazy when it comes to bestowing flowery and colorful ‘nom de hoops’ on our hardwood heroes.
Here is a fresh batch of aliases for our Finals-embroiled competitors. You’re welcome, sorry.
Lebron James = THE BLADE RUNNER
Is he really human? Or is he a cyborg? It’s hard to tell sometimes. From the day he stepped on a basketball court Lebron has had a laughably superior set of physical and mental abilities. What makes me really suspect he’s inhuman, however, are photos like the one above.
He’s not breathing through his mouth–he’s not even winded. Unless his nasal passages are as oversized as his biceps, something is wrong here. Fire up the Voight-Kampff machine. Continue reading
Photo by Jim Capale | ESPN.com
I know what I like: voices in harmony, major seventh chords, and thick, spacey drones. I like science fiction. Hard science fiction. I like basketball and I love to play pinball. They are simple things and they give me pleasure, especially when they unexpectedly overlap. At one of these intersections stands Todd MacCulloch, former NBA Finalist and pinball champion. Talking with him on the phone recently was a joy; I found him to be intelligent, humble, forthcoming, and extremely generous with his time (you can read the full transcription of our conversation here).
His path has been unconventional. Like most Canadian youths, Todd fancied himself a hockey player, but his rapidly increasing height had other ideas. In high school he committed to basketball and “got noticed as a 6’9″, 6’10″, 6’11″ skinny kid from Winnipeg that had decent footwork and a decent ability to catch the basketball.” By his senior year he was seven feet tall and being recruited by colleges all over America. He chose Washington and powered them to the sweet sixteen in 1998, leading the nation in field goal percentage three consecutive years (one of only two players ever to accomplish the feat).
Todd finished college, got his degree and was projected to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Disappointingly, though, he was taken 47th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers: “I think the perception was that I was too slow to compete at the NBA level”. About this and other setbacks, Todd is refreshingly honest: “I slipped to the second round and was crushed. I thought I had failed and that they had forgotten about me and that I wasn’t a very good player.” Being drafted that late generally means you show up to training camp and fight for a spot. It can mean playing overseas and ultimately never making an NBA roster.
To regain his confidence Todd joined Steve Nash on the Canadian National Team to try for a spot in the 2000 Olympics. In the qualifying competition they upset a number of teams and earned a trip to Sydney, but it was his performance against the third Dream Team that changed the course of Todd’s life. Continue reading
Dave Hartley's protest beard is growing in nicely
Top of the Key is our occasional sports column written by Dave Hartley, bassist for The War on Drugs, frontman for Nightlands, and an all-around music and basketball enthusiast.
On Sunday Matt Bonner, his brother Luke Bonner, Tim Showalter (aka Strand of Oaks) and I snuck into The University of Pennsylvania’s historic Palaestra to get a few shots up. It was my first time shooting hoops with an NBA player (Matt plays for The San Antonio Spurs), so I was nervous. It should also be noted that Luke is seven feet tall and played professionally in Europe and in the D-League. He can dunk, quite easily. Thankfully the lights were dim so my woefully atrophied basketball skills were partially cloaked. Matt’s insanely automatic long distance jump shot glowed in the dark, though. He set his feet, aimed, and drilled shots from downtown as nonchalantly as walking up to a salad bar for seconds. Truly something to behold.
Ok, I should back up. Last year Adam Granduciel and I interviewed Matt for Paste Magazine because Matt loves music (specifically a bunch of bands on Secretly Canadian, home of both The War on Drugs and Nightlands) and we love hoops. It was a great opportunity for us to ask questions that we thought were never asked of professional ball players. Continue reading