Portland Trail Blazers: Best 5 Names to Play for Team in Franchise History

Kyle BoggsCorrespondent IJune 21, 2012

Portland Trail Blazers: Best 5 Names to Play for Team in Franchise History

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    Portland Trail Blazer fans are familiar with the great players who have donned the red, white and black in the franchise’s 42-year history: Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, LaMarcus Aldridge and so forth. Those guys get plenty of press.

    One often overlooked facet of franchise history is the number of unique names that have come through Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Garden.

    From Alaa Abdelnaby to Qyntel Woods, the Blazers have had more than their share of off-the-wall names.

    This list is meant to bring to light the best of those standout names.

    Note: To qualify, a player must have played at least 82 games with Portland. That leaves guys like Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Abdul Jeelani, Negele Knight, Von Wafer and Ennis Whatley haplessly off the list.

Honorable Mention: Alaa Abdelnaby

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    This mouthful of vowels was the first Egyptian-American to play in the NBA.

    While at Duke, he gained pseudo-fame for dissing his own academic ability (via dukeupdate.com), “The only way I can make five As is when I sign my name.”

Honorable Mention: Billy Ray Bates

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    After the early 1990s, the name Billy Ray evokes thoughts of bad country music and even worse hair.

    But a decade earlier, if you heard the name Billy Ray around Portland, your mind immediately flashed to a guy who burst on the scene like Jeremy Lin this year.

Honorable Mention: Kermit Washington

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    To everyone in the world other than Rudy Tomjanovich, Kermit is the name of a puppet frog.

    One ill-fated punch turned Kermit Washington’s career in a completely different direction and made him a household name in Oregon and elsewhere across the USA.

5. Corky Calhoun

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    Alliteration and a corny nickname give Corky Calhoun the No. 5 spot on the list.

    Corky Calhoun is a fun name to say. It sounds like the name of a redneck strip club owner in a B-list comedy movie.

    Instead, it’s the name of a former No. 4 overall draft pick who played two seasons in Portland, averaging a modest 4.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game for the Blazers.

4. Fat Lever

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    Lafayette Lever bypassed his first name to become the only person in American history to happily be known as Fat.

    It is perhaps the best name-shortening in all of sports.

    After two years in Portland, he was traded to Denver for the No. 2 player on this list.

    (I should say, having Fat Lever’s autograph may have boosted him on this list.)

3. Bonzi Wells

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    It’s hard to know what to expect from a guy who goes by Bonzi.

    That was very true in Portland.

    Apparently the nickname came from a combination of his mom’s affinity for Bon Bons and his family’s laziness for saying the name Bon Bon.

    Bon Bon—or Bonzi, as he was better known in Portland—was a polarizing figure during his time here. He was a solid performer on the court, but his anti-fan interview with Sports Illustrated spurred more hatred for him and the Jail Blazers.

2. Kiki Vandeweghe

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    Say the name Kiki Vandeweghe out loud.

    Now do it without giggling.

    Somehow Ernest Maurice morphed into Kiki. Kiki, in turn, became the name for the jab step that Vandeweghe used so effectively (via nba.com).

    Even with a goofy name, Vandeweghe was one of Portland’s all-time best scorers.

    Now he’s cashing in on his cream of the crop name—for $20,000, Kiki will come talk to you!

1. Arvydas Sabonis

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    Craig Kilborn helped make Arvydas Sabonis a household name with his memorable SportsCenter tag, “He’s not my Vydas, he’s not your Vydas, he’s Arvydas.”

    Couple that with his teen-joke-friendly last name, and you’ve got the recipe for the best name ever to be emblazoned across a Blazer jersey.

    Adding to the intrigue was the fact that Arvydas Sabonis was a 7’3” passing wizard from overseas who could make threes like nobody’s business.

    Throw in those bad boner jokes (Hey, I was 10 when he showed up in Portland, 18 when he retired), and there’s no question that Arvydas Sabonis lives as the best name in Blazer history.