'The Kobe Contract': A Sports Insider's Dictionary for Athlete Names

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2016

'The Kobe Contract': A Sports Insider's Dictionary for Athlete Names

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    What exactly is a "Kobe contract?" What does it mean to get "Drew Bledsoed?"

    Sports fans might know the answer to these already, but even so, it's always fascinating when an athlete inspires a new name or colloquial phrase.

    Some instances in sports history—and the athletes behind them—have become so famous, they need no explanation beyond the athlete's name itself.

    Bledsoe, for instance, lost his quarterbacking job to a young Tom Brady simply because he had the audacity to get injured. Now, no QB wants to get "Drew Bledsoed."

    Read on for the first installment of the Sports Insider's Dictionary for Athlete Names, listed alphabetically, of course.

Rick Barry

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    NBA Photo Library/Getty Images


    1. An underhanded free throw

    Synonym: Canyon Barry

    Antonym: Dwight Howard

    Origin: NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry was an 89 percent career free-throw shooter—he led the league in free-throw shooting percentage seven times. Barry also famously shot underhanded, aka "granny" style. Barry once offered to help center Dwight Howard with his woeful performance at the charity stripe, but Howard—a 56 percent career free-throw shooter—said, "I don't need to shoot underhanded free throws," per Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel.

    Used in a sentence: Former Louisville Cardinal and current Houston Rockets rookie Chinanu Onuaku shoots Rick Barry free throws.

Drew Bledsoe

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    JOHN MOTTERN/Getty Images


    1. To lose the starting job through no real fault of one's own; a talented youngster takes over for the injured starter and plays him/her out of the job

    Synonym: Alex Smith

    Origin: In 2001, New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe was sidelined with an injury early on. He was replaced by second-year QB Tom Brady. Brady played out the rest of the season—even after Bledsoe was cleared to play—and threw for 2,843 yards and 18 TDs en route to an 11-3 record and a Super Bowl victory. Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills in the offseason.

    Used in a sentence: Is Cowboys QB Tony Romo going to get Drew Bledsoed by rookie Dak Prescott?

Kobe Bryant

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images


    1. Describes a situation in which an athlete gets paid for what he/she has already done for his/her longtime team, as opposed to what he/she has the realistic potential to accomplish in the future

    Antonym: Dwyane Wade

    Origin: In 2013, the Los Angeles Lakers gave longtime guard Kobe Bryant a two-year contract extension worth $48.5 million—despite his advancing age and an Achilles injury that forced him to miss significant time. Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss defended the move, telling Sam Amick of USA Today, "You pay the guy."

    Used in a sentence: It looked for a moment like the New Orleans Saints might actually consider giving 37-year-old Drew Brees a Kobe contract worth four years and $100 million.

Bill Buckner

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images


    1. Any instance in which a ball erroneously rolls between an athlete's legs

    Synonym: Daniel Murphy

    Origin: The Boston Red Sox led the New York Mets three games to two in the 1986 World Series. Tied late in Game 6, Sox first baseman Bill Buckner let a Mookie Wilson dribbler roll through his legs and into the outfield. The game-winning run came home, and the Mets forced a Game 7, which they eventually won. ESPN's Rick Weinberg called Buckner's error "the most famous miscue in sports annals."

    Used in a sentence: American goalkeeper Hope Solo pulled a Bill Buckner in her team's 2-2 draw with Colombia at the Rio Olympics.

Brett Favre

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images


    1. A situation in which an athlete flip-flops on retirement

    Synonym: Michael Phelps

    Origin: In 2006, rumors first began about the possible retirement of longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. In March 2008, Favre announced his retirement but began to waver on the decision shortly thereafter. In August 2008, Favre unretired, and the Packers traded him to the New York Jets. In February 2009, Favre retired again. In August 2009, he unretired once more to join the Minnesota Vikings. Favre retired for the final time after the 2010 season.   

    Used in a sentence: In early September, U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan—who retired in 2014—pulled a Brett Favre, reversing his retirement decision to suit up for the L.A. Galaxy.

DeSean Jackson

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images


    1. A situation in which a football player drops a sure touchdown ball steps before the goal line, specifically due to arrogance or premature celebration

    Synonym: Sammy Watkins

    Origin: In 2008, NFL wide receiver DeSean Jackson—then with the Philadelphia Eagles—made a gorgeous 61-yard touchdown grab. Unfortunately for him, the points came off the board when officials realized Jackson had dropped the ball short of the goal line as part of an early celebration. Jackson is certainly not the only player to have committed this offense, but he has (humiliatingly) done it on more than one occasion.

    Used in a sentence: Clemson wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud pulled a DeSean Jackson, nullifying a surefire touchdown in a tight September win over Troy.

LeBron James

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    J.Pat Carter/Associated Press


    1. To bounce on the only team an athlete has ever played for in what the public perceives as a quest for championships; often inspires jersey burning

    Synonym: Kevin Durant

    Origin: LeBron James left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. James let the world know of his decision through a grand and, you might say, insensitive television special. Cleveland fans felt so scorned, many burned his jerseys in the streets, and owner Dan Gilbert posted a scathing letter that remained active on the team's website for years.  

    Used in a sentence: Kevin Durant LeBronned the Oklahoma City Thunder when he left for the Golden State Warriors.

DeAndre Jordan

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    NBA Photos/Getty Images


    1. A situation in which a free agent changes his/her mind at the last minute to stay with his/her team

    Synonym: Dexter Fowler  

    Origin: Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan verbally committed to joining the Dallas Mavericks in free agency in 2015. He later reneged on the deal, angering Dallas fans and inciting a now-famous social media phenomenon known as the "emoji race."

    Used in a sentence: From Josh Friedman of Miami's 790 the Ticket: "It won't happen but just imagine if Kevin Durant pulled a DeAndre Jordan and changed his mind and returned to OKC!"

Michael Jordan

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    BETH A. KEISER/Associated Press


    1. Greatest of all-time, aka GOAT

    Synonym: Muhammad Ali

    Origin: NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the best basketball player in history.

    Used in a sentence: ESPN's Mike Greenberg once called Tiger Woods "the Michael Jordan of golf."

    2. A situation in which a professional athlete changes sports

    Synonym: Tracy McGrady

    Origin: Jordan announced his retirement from basketball in 1993 and later signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. Jordan's baseball career lasted just one year, and he returned to the NBA in 1995.   

    Used in a sentence: Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow recently pulled a Michael Jordan and signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets.

Willie Mays

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    Associated Press


    1. Used to describe an impressive, over-the-shoulder basket catch in baseball

    Synonyms: None exactly, but kind of Ichiro Suzuki 

    Origin: Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays made a catch so famous in the 1954 World Series it has since been known as, simply, "The Catch." Vic Wertz of the Cleveland Indians drove a ball deep to center field, and Mays ran toward the outfield wall, ultimately catching it over his shoulder. Mays' New York Giants went on to win the game and Series. 

    Used in a sentence: New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares made a Willie-Mays-like catch during a May game against the Washington Nationals.

Dan Orlovsky

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    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images


    1. A situation in which a quarterback steps out of the back of his own end zone, resulting in a safety

    Synonyms: Cody Kessler

    Origin: In 2008, during his first career start, Detroit Lions QB Dan Orlovsky ran out the back of his own end zone. The play resulted in a safety and a 2-0 first quarter lead for the opposing Minnesota Vikings, who went on to win by a knife-twisting score of 12-10.

    Used in a sentence: During a 2009 game in which he came close to stepping out of bounds in the end zone, Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco said, "I almost pulled a Dan Orlovsky," per The Associated Press (via NFL.com).

Steve Sax

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    1. A specific type of yips in which a baseball player cannot throw to first base

    Synonym: Chuck Knoblauch

    Origin: In 1983, Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Steve Sax suddenly became unable to throw a baseball to first base and made a league-leading 30 errors on the season. Seth Livingstone of USA Today wrote, "As Sax worried about his grip and his arm angle, his throwing became so bad that fans behind the first base dugout began donning batting helmets." He eventually recovered and even led American League second basemen in fielding percentage in 1989. 

    Used in a sentence: Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester has struggled with Steve Sax Syndrome for years.  


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