Last week my uncle emailed to say he was changing his name and needed suggestions. After living for 38 years with a unpronounceable Swedish name, he decided that it was time for a change. Having considered the name change option myself, I was sympathetic to my uncle’s desire to acquire a new moniker and decided to help him find it.
After hours of contemplation, I came up with the perfect name: Randall Cunningham. Then I realized that Randall Cunningham was a great name for a quarterback in the early 90’s, not so great for non-football players in 2002. Ever determined, I decided to compile a list of great names. Since most of them were sports related, I compiled a top ten list. So without further ado, I present to you the 10 Greatest Sports Names of All-Time:
10. Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje — In the tradition of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Boumtje-Boumtje brings his distinct name rhythm and international flavor to Portland in this his rookie season. After four years at Georgetown, this Cameroonian was selected by the Jail-Blazers to play center and teach Shawn Kemp proper eating habits.
9. Torin Dorn — This little known defensive back played in the NFL for six years, spending most of his time on the Raiders before a short stint with the Rams. Up until I researched his name, I was convinced his name was “Torn.” Though that would have been funnier, his name still has a nice ring. Sort of like Noah Coah, or Nohan Cohan.
8. Justin Love — With a name that must have been the source of endless playground scorn, Love played four years at St. Louis, helping the Billiken men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament in 2000.
7. Miroslav Satan — Though his name is actually pronounced “Shuh-tawn,” this Sabres left wing can make any headline hilarious: “Satan downs Kings.” If only he had played basketball against Providence in 1996. (See #1)
6. Marion Butts — When I was ten, this Chargers running back was the source of endless amusement. The Dick Butkus of my generation, Butts actually was an effective runner, collecting 5,185 yards his career, including 1,225 yards in 1990.
5. Gerardus Maritius Natuitasina Tuatagaloa — Better known as “Natu,” this former Seahawks defensive tackle tops the list of greatest Samoan names. Runners-up: Marques Tuiasosopo, Tui Alailefaleula, Chris Fuamatu Ma’afala.
4. Majestic Mapp — Seems this Virginia guard’s parents had a passion for topography. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, this Harlem native has been injured the last two years with an injury to his ACL.
3. World B. Free — A prolific scorer in the NBA in the 70’s and 80’s. Born Lloyd B. Free, he changed his name while on the Golden State Warriors in the early 80’s. World’s proactive moniker made every basket a call for liberty.
2. Exree Hipp — With his first name pronounced “X-ray,” Hipp bears one of the most medically conscious names of all time. In the tradition of players who can’t make the NBA but have something intriguing about their personas, Hipp served a short stint on the Harlem Globetrotters after finishing his career at Maryland.
1. God Shammgod — Unquestionably the best sports name of all time. Born Shammgod Wells, he decided one “god” in his name wasn’t enough, and changed his name to God Shammgod while at Providence. After two years there, he was made deity to the Wizards, as Washington made Shammgod their first pick under their new handle in 1997. Though God’s career on the hardwood has faded, his nomen can still be found in the best selling book of all time.