TUESDAY NOVEMBER 21, 2017
 
Blog THROWIN SMOKE
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
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Some players are synonymous with their first name: LeBron, Tiger, Serena, Shaq. Some are known best by their last name: Gretzky, Jeter, Bird, Ovechkin. And some are known by their nickname: Magic, Broadway Joe, The Mailman, Cujo.

But rare are the athletes today in which commentators and fans feel obligated to refer to them using their full names, including both their given names and surnames. For some, it’s because their names are awkward and obscure, for others it’s to differentiate them from other players with the same last name. And for some, it just rolls off the tongue better than a last name alone.

Here are some high-profile athletes regularly referred to by both their given and surnames.

Rudy Gay

This one falls in the awkward category. The last thing a commentator wants to do is use the word “Gay” incorrectly during a broadcast … that’s a sure-fire way to become an instant YouTube sensation, get forced into sensitivity training, and probably be blacklisted from announcing professional sports. So it’s just safer to always refer to Rudy Gay as Rudy Gay.

Jimmie Johnson

In the American South, there are hundreds of racers named Johnson. So as Jimmie Johnson’s career grew, fans and media persistently referred to him by both names to avoid confusion with all the other Johnsons. Now, one might have thought that after Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series five years in a row between 2006 and 2010, maybe he’d get enough respect to go with one name. Unfortunately it stuck, and Jimmie Johnson really does roll off the tongue, particularly with a bit of a Southern drawl. So Jimmie Johnson it is.

Joba Chamberlain

I’m pretty sure that if Joba Chamberlain were a better pitcher, he’d be able to get away with just being “Joba.” Sadly, he hasn’t lived up to his superstar billing, so he’s stuck being Joba Chamberlain whenever he takes the mound. If you ever get the opportunity to watch a Yankees game in which Joba Chamberlain is pitching, count the number of times his full name is referenced. My record is 36.

Dwyane Wade

I’ve got to tip my cap to ESPN announcer Mike Breen, who appears to have broken the habit of always referring to Dwyane Wade as Dwyane Wade during this year’s NBA Finals. Tragically, no one on the ESPN panel – especially Bill Simmons – has followed suit. If you’re looking for a drinking game to make this year’s Finals even more exciting, take a shot every time someone says “Dwyane Wade” or “Danny Green.” You’ll be hammered by the third quarter.

Coco Crisp

In this case, the speedy Oakland A’s outfielder’s name is so unusual that you just have to refer to him in its full, breakfast cereal-inspired glory. Calling Coco Crisp just “Crisp” does nothing to show the necessary appreciation to Coco Crisp’s parents for having the foresight and ingenuity to name him Coco Crisp.

Babe Ruth

Maybe in the old days Babe Ruth was referred to as “The Babe” or just “Ruth,” but nowadays whenever he’s referred to, his full name is always used. There haven’t been any other great baseball players named “Babe” or even “Ruth,” so you’d think it would be different. Nope. Whenever you refer to Babe Ruth, you have to refer to him as Babe Ruth.

Honourable mention goes to Picabo Street, Metta World Peace and Albert Pujols. No offence to his Dominican heritage, but no one feels comfortable just saying Pujols.

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