Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Fun Games, Funnier Names

HIGH AND TIGHT Fun Games, Funnier Names

What’s in a name? In the sports world, names can add even more entertainment value to sporting events. From teams to players, great names make for great nicknames, headlines and SportsCenter quips.

Here on the Hilltop, we’ve had our share of great names, usually coming from foreign basketball players. Current Philadelphia 76ers center Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo started the pattern, and Boubacar Aw followed. Ya Ya Dia took it to a new level, combining the unusual-sounding name with the quirkiness of repetition, as in Ruben Boumtje Boumtje. Current women’s team junior forward Nok Duany extended the tradition beyond the Hilltop, with her brother Duany Duany, who played basketball at Wisconsin.

Providence had God Shammgod, North Carolina had Mahktar N’Diaye. Even better than Mahktar, however, was Auburn’s Mamadou N’Diaye, who inspired such signs as “No one packs your lunch like your Mamadou.”

But names that Americans typically are used to hearing can also become entertaining when heard in the sports context. The adjective-for-a-first-name trick always works, a la former NBA All-Star Magic Johnson, Virginia point guard Majestic Mapp and Sixers point guard Speedy Claxton – although Magic and Speedy are sort of cheating, since their given first names are Earvin and Craig, respectively. Baltimore Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe and emphis Grizzles forward Stromile Swift pull it off more legitimately with their last names.

Then there are names that are just too easy to make puns on. Connecticut women’s basketball star Swin Cash is a headline-writer’s dream, as is Redskins quarterback Tony Banks.

The intimidation factor in a name is always a plus. New England Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy sounds like someone who you don’t want to get tackled by, much like his teammate, cornerback Ty Law. Tennis player Anna Smashnova has an automatic advantage when opposing players see her name in the draw. A former Pennslyvania point guard got lucky, sharing a name with Michael Jordan. And who could be scarier than the Sabres’ Miroslav Satan?

The “entertainment” realm of the sports world , i.e. professional wrestling, provides us with endless, ridiculous stage names. As absurd as Big Poppa Pump (really Scott Rechsteiner) is, no one can compare to Billy Gunn. He went from a part of “The Smoking Gunns” (a tag team with his “brother” Bart Gunn) to “Badd Ass Billy Gunn” of The New Age Outlaws, then the simple yet powerful “Mr. Ass,” and is now “The One” Billy Gunn. The recent addition of the XFL gave us even more bizarre and preposterous names, right there on the back of their jerseys. The best of these had to be He Hate e. All I want to know is who hate he?

Some amusement can often be found in impossible-to-pronounce foreign names. Announcers can’t enjoy the multitude of international players who make their jobs harder by having names that look like a bad game of Wheel of Fortune – you just want to buy a vowel. The NHL is probably the winner in this game, with Eastern Europe producing everyone from Nikolai Khabibulin to ariusz Czerkawski to Janne Nijnimaa. We had our own example right here on campus just a year ago; I don’t even want to think about how badly Mr. 4-HOYA must have butchered Katie Smrcka-Duffy.

In sports, names can inspire laughter, fear, jokes and respect . or they can just sound cool. Think about it: Moochie Norris, Trot Nixon, Razor Shines, Major Applewhite, Sam Gash and Udonis Haslem would make for quite a guest list at your next party.

My future son’s name? Anfernee, no doubt.

High and Tight appears every other Tuesday in The Hoya. The author can be reached at

High and Tight Teams Make Sports Great -Oct. 23, 2001 Teams ake Sports Great -Oct. 23, 2001 A(nother) Summer of Our Baseball Discontent … -Oct. 2, 2001

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