Sports stars are some of the most visible and well-renowned celebrities on the planet. Just ask children in small, far away countries. Names like Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth resonate far more frequently than Tom Hanks or Stephen King. These names, LeBron James and Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning become household names, frequent parts of the fan-vocabulary.
Some names, though, are better than others. Whether they roll more smoothly off the tongue, are more context-appropriate or simply more fun, something about Jordin Tootoo is just more spectacular than Sidney Crosby (maybe not on the ice...).
A friend of mine and I compiled a list of the top-10 names in the history of sports. We worked with a 10-point scale, a possible four points coming from fame (because the more famous the name, the more impact it has), and a possible six coming from a mixture of context, fun, and overall hilarity. Only one name eclipsed the eight-point mark.
There will be two honorable mentions throughout the list: before the fifth and first entries.
In a world of Ronaldinhos, Ronaldos, and Peles there is...Fred. Wait...what!?
Yes, the man's name is Fred, but he isn't a truck driver from Chicago. He's a footballer. A midfielder for MLS club, D.C. United. He's not exactly Lionel Messi, but he is a serviceable part of the D.C. squad.
And let's be honest. Go look up his player page.
Tell me you don't laugh when you read:
Full Name: Fred
Throughout his career, Milton Bradley has been labeled many things: a journeyman, a slugger, an All-star, a nutcase. Now I'm giving him a new label: the owner of the ninth best sports' name ever.
Dig into your memory. In 2000, when your friend who's a baseball obsessee came up to you and said, "Dude, get this. There's a rookie on the Expos named Milton Bradley."
Your response was, "Milton Bradley, like...the people who make Monopoly, Milton Bradley?"
Eight-teams-in-a-decade later and Milton Bradley is practically a household name, for better or worse. It seems like in-between every home run there's another tirade, another clubhouse argument, another thrown Gatorade jug.
But, despite all his transgressions, it's hard not to laugh at an angry man named after a board game.
First off, if you win the United States a gold medal, that's awesome. Second, if you're named after one of the most important Greek and Roman mythological gods, that's even more awesome.
According to Wikipedia, Apollo is one of the most versatile of the gods. An oracle, a healer, a cultivator of music, a beacon of truth, a master of archery, and...oh yeah...a bringer of plague and death. Sweet.
Just don't tell Apolo O about the "beardless youth" part. Whoops.
On top of a great first name, who doesn't remember when he totally ate it in competition and all of the "Apolo Oh No!" jokes it spawned. As long as he's still on skates (and going ridiculously fast) it may never get old.
Lastly, and spectacularly, as my friend pointed out, half of the letters in his name are the letter "O."
So you're a corner back. You're looking at a receiver who's three, four inches taller than you. He's also faster...and jumps higher. What's the first thing your coach tells you to do?
"Jam him at the line, maggot!"
Alright, maybe that's a bit drill-sergeanty. Well, unless you're Bill Cowher.
So what's more fitting than a defensive back named Jammer?
This spot came down to a toss-up between Jammer and Oakland A's pitcher Josh Outman. The deciding factor was performance. Though Outman's 2009 numbers were impressive for a young guy, who knows where he'll be in a few years.
Now Jammer isn't exactly Nnamdi Asomugha or Darelle Revis, but he's been a serviceable player for the Chargers for years. In 2006, he was nearly a Pro Bowl selection.
Though if Josh Outman turns out to be the next Jon Lester or Clayton Kershaw, consider him to have the unofficial seventh best name of all time.
Just so you know, none of these players are Jamie Crapper. These are members of the Bracknell Bees of the BHL, the team and league with which Jamie made his name.
This was a bit of a controversial pick for two reasons: First, we weren't sure Jamie Crapper was real. Initially, I saw his name in a forum and thought it was too hysterical to pass up. Second, our other rule was, "Any athlete (coach, whatever) who was in contention on purely third-grade humor was (technically) disqualified from the list (you'll see why).
But in the course of digging up Jamie's origins, we found ourselves laughing every time we said his name. It's comic gold.
The kicker to all of this is Crapper is a player-coach who, in 153 contests, scored a ludicrous 744 points. That's 4.83 points-per-game!
He's Britain's version of Wayne Gretzky, if Wayne Gretzky was 7'6", could multiply himself and had super-human speed.
Oh, and the BHL doesn't stand for British Hockey League, rather for British Heineken League. That's the kind of hockey organization I want to play for.
This is Magic Johnson. God that name must've gotten him a lot of women in the '70s and '80s. Well, if his fame, stature and money weren't already getting the job done.
I'm not even going to bother explaining why these names are here. I'll just list them. I promise they're legit.
Ivana Mandic, Dick Trickle, Harry Colon, Phyllis Mangina, Dick Pole, Rusty Kuntz, Ron Tugnutt, Homer Bush, Chubby Cox, Lucious Pusey, Coco Crisp, Kaka.
There's one very, very high profile name missing from this list. If you know who, you'll know why.
Just say it a few times, it's infectious.
Anyway, Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, as you can see, did not finish his illustrious (cough) career in the NBA.
He was selected out of Georgetown by the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft. Georgetown has a good history of seven-footers and all, but my man Ruben just didn't have it. I mean, there's even an top-10 dunks on RBB collection you can see here:
I can't really hate on the guy though, he's remarkably smart. According to Wiki, he speaks three languages, was pre-med and majored in both Math and biology. Oh and he sits fourth on the all-time G-town blocked shots list (behind guys named Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo).
He now balls in Germany for EWE Baskets Oldenburg, a league with a name almost as awesome as his.
God Shammgod is another controversial pick, considering there's no concrete evidence that the name that got him on this list is his legal name.
There's all kinds of accounts and rumors that his birth name is Shammgod Wells, or he changed his name to Wells so he would be more accepted as a youngster in school. Some say he changed his name back to God Shammgod (his father's name) when he enrolled at Providence.
Regardless, he played one year in the NBA with the Washington Wizards, the team that drafted him before the '97-'98 season.
Since then, he's played in several countries, including China, and now plays for the Portland Chinooks of the International Basketball League.
If it is his real name, the selection is a no-brainer. I mean, God is his first and last name.
As I alluded to in the previous selection, one of our rules was "The name that gets an athlete (coach, whatever) in contention for the top-10 list must be his/her birth name, and not a nickname or legally changed name." That eliminated Chad Ochocinco and Stylez G. White.
We also thought it eliminated Peekaboo Street. Until we learned her name is Picabo, and that is her real name. That's fantastic.
Like Apolo Ono, she received bonus "fame points" for winning the United States a gold medal. Though she's technically retired from skiing now, we figured she was a prominent enough athlete, even still.
On top of that, she's one of the few athletes (coaches, whatever) who makes this list with little humor factor. There's nothing inherently funny about Picabo Street, other than a little bit of goofiness. But her first and last names go together like peanut butter and jelly.
And, of course, she's had several streets named after her.
I don't quite understand this picture, other than Chris Fuama...whatever, is looking a lot like his fellow Hawaiian and Steeler, Troy Polamalu.
Now when Polamalu is significantly easier to say and spell than someone's name, you know that name is something special.
Now let's break down why this name is so great.
First, his name is Hawaiian. That's typically a good start. Second, his last name has a hyphen and an apostrophe. There aren't too many names that can claim that. Third, Fuamatu-Ma'afala is about as close to a palindrome as it comes. Fourth, I'm fairly certain there's a blooper reel somewhere of announcers trying to pronounce his name for a good three minutes or so, though unfortunately I can't find it.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, his first name is...CHRIS. It's not Kaimana, it's not Makaio, it's not Haloti. It's friggin' Chris.
Chris F-M scored an eight on our scale. And he finished two points behind our first place name...
No I'm totally kidding. Shaq isn't the best sports name of all time. In fact it didn't even make the list. It was the first name not to make the list though. It was like the loser of the best name play-in game.
Now, I know Shaq takes lots of crap, but personally, I love him. I think he's absolutely hysterical. Then again, I'm a huge Ochocinco fan also.
But his honorable mention comes down to two things: fame and versatility.
Let me explain. First, Shaquille is, arguably, the most famous person on this list. Sure, you can argue that Street and Ono are international stars, but really, Shaq, LeBron, and M.J. might be the three most famous basketballers ever.
Secondly, if you've seen any of Shaq's ESPN NBA commercials, his name fits with so many different suffixes which make it so much funnier. Shaqtus, Shaqtice, Shaqtastic, Shaqtical espionage, Shaqtating, Shaqket, Shaqtual, I could go on for days.
That's why we felt the Big Aristotle deserved special Shaqknowledgement.
This one was simple. Again, he qualifies despite his name being of the third-grade humor type because it's just...too great.
First, Dicky is one of the greatest football players of all time, offense or defense. His brutality at the linebacker position is legendary. I can only imagine that some of that mean streak came from all the flak he took in grade school because his name is Dick Butt Kiss.
His household name, Hall of Fame stature and hype of mythical proportions earned him an easy four of four in the fame category.
The other six points don't need much explanation. He has three syllables in his name, all three of them are funny, and they go together like Gilbert Arenas and a gold-plated Desert Eagle, or Tiger Woods and women not named Elin. It doesn't get any better than that.
Now please, as much as I thought of every funny and awesome name under the sun, we could only list our favorite 10. Okay, 11. Okay, like 20. But, please, feel free to leave your favorite sports name in the comments.