Ever wonder where Vincent Edward Jackson’s nickname of Bo came from?
"He was merciless; he flung rocks and crab apples and punches with equal accuracy, and at one point, in the midst of a fight over a Ping-Pong paddle, he hit one of his female cousins with a baseball bat and said he would have hit her again if his siblings hadn’t stepped in. He’d steal a bike, strip it, toss it into a fire to burn the paint off, spray-paint it, and that same afternoon, ride down the street past the house he’d stolen it from."
“Because of his ability to withstand punches to his chest from his older brothers and sisters, because he wrestled children twice his age and ducked no fight and reveled in his own stubbornness, he had been given a nickname, truncated from Southern shorthand for a wild boar. In time, Bo-Hog became Bo.”
— Michael Weinreb, Bigger Than the Game
Earlier this week Sports Illustrated published an excerpt from Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, a book billed as the definitive Walter Payton biography. The excerpt deals with a darker side of Walter Payton that fans aren’t comfortable confronting. It’s because of this reason that the book has met serious backlash. This morning Dan Patrick had the author, Jeff Pearlman, on his radio show to discuss his new book. One revelation from the interview that I particularly enjoyed was the origins of Walter Payton’s nickname, Sweetness.
"Back in the day they used to have a college all-star game at the end of a season. Where the college all-stars would play the defending Super Bowl champions. And in 1975 it was the Pittsburgh Steelers against the college all-stars. The college all-stars practiced at North Western - John McKay was the coach and Walter Peyton was the half-back. And one day in a practice, he’s running and Neal Colzie, a defensive back out of Ohio State who later played for the Raiders, comes in for a tackle. And Walter Peyton screams out ‘Your sweetness is your weakness,’ puts a move on him and goes down the field. The next day he’s writing ‘sweetness’ all over the board because he thought it was so funny and everyone was cracking up. And that is how the birth of Walter Peyton’s sweetness began."
You know what I miss? Nicknames for collections of players as opposed to singular star athletes. The Bermuda Triangle, Purple People Eaters, Hogs, Steel Curtain, Kardiac Kids, Greatest Show on Turf, The Electric Company and Air Coryel. I wish this trend would come back. There have been a few nicknames kicking around the past couple years like Jet Blue and Earth, Wind, and Fire but nothing that really stuck.
One of my favorite such nicknames is the New York Sack Exchange. It just works. Money is green — the Jets’ jerseys are green. See, it just works. The New York Sack Exchange was the nickname given to the Jets’ defensive line in the 1980’s. Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam formed like Voltron to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. Their given names were fantastic in their own right but how can you not love the New York Sack Exchange?
"It wasn’t a question of whether we’d get to the quarterback, it was how many times"
— Marty Lyons
(Source: Sports Illustrated)
Chitwood & Hobbs has been following the works of Got ‘Em Coach for some time. The writing (online and for the Sports Show with Norm Macdonald), the photoshop mastery, the tweeting — if Got ‘Em is involved, we are into it. All that said, there is one bond in particular that will always join us together: an obsession with athlete nicknames.
For the second installment of The Guest List, Neil P. of Got ‘Em Coach stopped by to drop a little moniker knowledge. And since he is the cognomen emperor we decided to give him nickname carte blanche; five new nicknames for players of NBA’s past and present.
by Neil P.
I love nicknames. It’s true. I gave myself the nickname “Mayo” in college just so when people asked, “Why do they call you Mayo?” I could answer,
"It’s short for Mayonnaise."
Here’s my list of five new NBA nicknames (it would have been six, but I withheld nicknaming LeBron’s entourage, “Basketball Cancer.”)
Blake Griffin - “The Webmaster”
We nicknamed him “Milkshake" at Got ‘Em, but I know there’s no real connection or meaning. It’s just fun. "Webmaster" makes more sense to me, because Blake has the Internet on lock.
Sidney “Deep Water” Moncrief
Sidney Moncrief is one of my favorite players ever, and probably already has the greatest government name in NBA history, but I thought a good nickname was in order. If you brought the ball up-court and saw Sid waiting, you were in serious trouble all night long. Those waters run deep.
Detroit Joe Dumars
I left the quotation marks off because, quite frankly, this should just be his name. This is what we should all call him. How do you make a world-class name like Joe Dumars even better? Put the name of a great and proud town like Detroit in front of it. Joe represented the Motor City perfectly - both were quiet, hard-working, but dead serious.
Daryl “Yo Mama” Dawkins
No one ever having the nickname “Yo Mama” is a travesty, and I’m in the position to change that. Plus, Dawkins had no regard for anything. Not life. Not basketball. And certainly not personal possessions. Watch this.
I was walking through Little Italy in New York City as a teen with my brother, when I saw, standing tall in a sea of diminutive Asians, a lone African-American. As I got closer, I knew who it was. I told my brother, “That’s Daryl Dawkins.” We were now steps away.
"Daryl Fucking-Dawkins," I said with a smile spread across my face.
"Yo Mama" turned to us both, nodding his head and obscenely licking a mountainously-high, soft-serve, vanilla ice cream dessert, from sugar cone to tip.
All my brother could get out was, “You used to name your dunks, man.” That was it. We walked right on by.
Joe “Milkman” Johnson
If Karl Malone was the “Mailman” because he always delivered, then Joe Johnson’s gotta be the “Milkman,” because old-timey milkmen delivered just about once a week.
Scottie Pippen - “The Vice President,” Chris Paul - “Pusha” (because CP deals it like a kingpin, and because we need more points of intersection between the NBA and Clipse), and Shaquille “Black Death” O’Neal (because when the Daddy put you in the mix down low, it was lights out).
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report