We are currently suffering from a drought of good sports star nicknames. Between the first name initial + first surname syllable epidemic (D Wade, A Rod(s), etc.) and the even more detestable both initials with the possibility of the number (RG3, CP3 er um 4, etc.) there’s not much good naming out there. The only new nickname we can hang our hats on would be for LSU’s defensive back Tyrann Mathieu – the Honey Badger – which unfortunately has been used so many times it already feels played out.
As a person whose nickname has become his actual name in conversation between friends and acquaintances (Bagman and in some instances Bags) I think there needs to be a referendum on nicknames. There needs to be a strict criteria for nicknaming someone, and I have decided to take up that task. What follows is a list, in order of best to worst, on what is allowable in order to be used as a nickname.
1) The name is derived from a story or anecdote from the person’s past. This is the ultimate nickname, it doesn’t get any better than this. When was the last time you didn’t agree with someone’s nickname when it was derived from some hilarious story? For example, apparently former NBA star Penny Hardaway got his nickname from his grandma. She was actually calling him “pretty”, but due to how she spoke or how it sounded when it came out of her mouth everyone heard it as penny and it stuck. At least according to wikipedia (under beginnings).
2) Basing a nickname off of someone’s personality. If someone has a nickname based off their personality it means two things have occurred. First, whoever came up with the nickname is close enough to know who the person is and that the person will accept that nickname. Second, the nickname becomes widespread because other people that are close enough to the newly nicknamed also agree with the name and the personality trait. For example, The Honey Badger for the aforementioned Tyrann Mathieu. His coach realized that he was a tough and tenacious person that wasn’t going to be bullied, despite his size and made the connection to a honey badger which, while not imposing looking, has no natural predators in the wild.
3) Basing a name off of how someone looks. Usually this is the most common form of a nickname. This is also probably the easiest nickname formulation and the quickest type of nickname to spread. An example would be former NFL Bears player William “The Refrigerator” Perry, who was dubbed thusly due to him being as big as a refrigerator.
4) Basing a name off of someone’s name. If the name is derived from the person’s name, but is more than just a restatement of the name it is fine. D Wade, is just Dwayne Wade’s name. That is clearly not alright. This one is tricky because it becomes really easy to get too lazy and fall into the trap of the nicknames of today. An acceptable nickname though is something that is more than just someone’s name. For instance when my grandpa was growing up people called him “budgy”, which is based off of his last name ‘Baggiano’ (buh-JOHN-oh). The first syllable of his (and of course my last name) is buh, hence the beginning of the nick name. And of course, what would a nickname be without the familiarity of adding a ‘y’ at the end?
These are the only four reasonable nicknames. Anything else is not accepted. We need to break through the tyranny of name shortening and initialing. A nickname must be earned, not created by some publicist, agent, or manager.