A second ago, I typed out “DeJuan Blair Man-Child,” in the title field for this section, and I was ready to get cracking in a discussion of DeJuan Blair, rebounding, and the pervading idiocy of every GM in the league not named R.C. Buford.
It was to be fun, but not exactly ground-breaking. We know DeJuan is great at rebounding and pretty good at scoring inside. He was probably the steal of the ‘09 Draft. He’s just really solid, and while he’ll never be a star (unless he decides to pull an Antonio Gates on the NFL), he’s the type of player that’s incredibly valuable when surrounded by talent.
In the NBA, if you get a guy who can do one thing great—a la Bruce Bowen’s defense, Chuck Hayes’ scrappiness, or Zach Randolph’s shooting (volume, not accuracy)—a good team will find a place for you, no matter your flaws. In Blair’s case, he’s 6-foot-20, has the strength of a thousand men, and makes ’90s Charles Barkley look like a pitiful eunuch, cowering in the corner. And he needs a nickname.
Initials are simply that – initials. So while many people, including myself, will certainly refer to him as BG quite frequently, I just don’t put that in the same category as Blake Superior. The question isn’t “How will you refer to Blake Griffin?” Without doubt, we’ll frequently refer to him as “Blake”, or “Griffin”, or “Blake Griffin” or even “BG”. But none of those are really nicknames – they’re just variations on his name.
It’s actually a bit of a shame in fact. I would go into a long lament about the demise of the sports nickname, but Devin Gordon of Newsweek beat me to it. CP3, Melo, DWade… is this really the best we can do? Some combination of first initials, shortened names, and uniform numbers? Really? So yeah, we can call the guy BG or BGriff (4 votes) or Griff (3 votes), and probably some of us will, and that’s fine. But we also need a name that is more than a simple editing exercise – we need a name with a backstory.
Indeed, calling Blair “D-Blair9” would be extremely lame. And it'd be a disservice to DeJuan, himself, as well as the game, in general. We can do better. I probably can’t, but collectively, I feel like we can come up with a nickname that befits a man of such outstanding badassery. And for what it’s worth, an effective nickname, like Birdman’s mohawk, could carry his game to greater heights than we ever thought possible.
With that in mind, let’s think of a few names (this is stream-of-consciousness, here, so don’t judge):
Night Train. Been used in football, but don’t we need a “Night Train” in basketball?
Mr. Biceps. Err… Like I said, these are coming stream-of-conscious and now that I say that one out loud, it’s kind of homoerotic. And awful. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things.
Gorilla Black. Not because he’s black (you racist bastard), but because his arms are freakishly long, he's got a low center of gravity, and he’s sort of brutish in the way he operates on the court. And the Spurs wear black. And Gorilla Black’s a rapper. If that’s racist, then… Okay yeah, so it’s still a little racist. Let’s move on.
Terror Blair (Pron. in deep, Shaft-like voice: “TERRAHBLAIR”) Weak, though not racist or homoerotic, so that’s a plus.
Doctor DunkInYoMouth. I mean… Maybe?
D-Block. This is actually the nickname of Kansas Center Darnell Jackson, but because he’s not very good, I think D Block deserves some consideration. It’s intimidating, for one, and it’s also the name of an early-millennium rap group led by Jadakiss. And while Jadakiss’ NBA analog is probably someone more established--like Andre Miller, maybe-- Styles P, with his rugged, raw delivery but unmistakable talent, seems like a good fit for DeJuan Blair. They both do the dirty work, but they’re also actually talented, which is a key distinction. (By contrast, Sheek Louch seems like an untalented dude that’s straight stabs people--he’s Ruben Patterson.)
Only problem? DeJuan Blair doesn’t block shots. He's got zero blocks in his first three preseason games, and at 6'7 (that's being generous) he's not likely to be doing any finger wagging anytime soon. This means his nickname would be misleading, and while that could lead to a more prosperous career—as someone like David Kahn just blindly assumes he blocks 2 shots-a-game because of his nickname—that’s not what we want.
—DeJuan Ferocious. Ehh… Running out of steam, here.
I don’t know, what do you guys think? And by “you guys”, I mean the 18 people still reading at this point. I’m actually partial to “Night Train,” myself, although I think Mr. Blair has to do something truly spectacular—like dunk on Kirk Hinrich and stomp on his chest (by accident, of course)—before he lives up to “Night Train.” I also like Doctor DunkInYoMouth, but that would not be very easy to brand. Or D-Block, because of the rap group, not his shot-blocking. Let’s continue to think about this.