Nickname Week at Philly Sports History is coming to a close, but not before we look back at Darryl Dawkins. “Chocolate Thunder” is the king of pseudonyms. Truly before his time in terms of marketing himself, he personified the term athlete-entertainer. You think Shaq and his nicknames were original? Not even a little. “Double D” was coining nicknames for himself and his dunks while Shaq was still in diapers.
And there’s no doubting that “Sir Slam’s” dunks were deserving of nicknames; the power with which he threw down borders on terrifying. Take a look at the video below:
Here are several of the most memorable nicknames “Dr. Dunkenstein” came up with for his dunks:
- “Your Mama” When the “Master of Disaster” first broke into the league and was practicing with guys like Dr. J., Jellybean Bryant, World B. Free and Doug Collins, he wanted to show everyone he was a player. After his first powerful dunk, he turned to the guy who attempted to play defense and said “Your Mama.” When the rest of the players asked him what the hell he was talking about, he said “That’s my ‘Your Mama’ dunk.”
- “The Heart-Stopper” At 6’11” and 250 lbs., “King Kong” was an imposing presence to say the least. So when he froze defenders in the lane with powerful drives to the hoop, he would call those dunks “Heart-Stoppers” because it looked like they made the defender’s heart stop.
- “The Greyhound Bus” Greyhound Bus described when he would go coast to coast and finish with a dunk.
- “Left-Handed, Spine-Chiller Supreme” Although “Charming Chocolate” was right-handed, he often dunked lefty.
- “Turbo Sexophonic Delight” Makes sense when you consider he was an alien from the planet Lovetron who spent the offseason practicing interplanetary funkmanship.
- “Chocolate Thunder Flyin’, Glass Flyin’, Robizine Cryin’, Parents Cryin’, Babies Cryin’, Glass Still Flyin’, Rump Roasting, Bun Toasting, Thank You Wham Ma’am I Am’ Jam” His first backboard shattering slam. (right)
- “The Chocolate Thunder Ain’t Playin’, Get Out The Wayin’, Backboard Swayin’, Game Delayin’, Super Spike” And his second backboard shattering slam, after which the NBA forever changed to collapsible rims.
Honorable Mention Dunks: “Dunk You Very Much,” “The Rim-Wrecker,” “The Gorilla, “The In Your Face Disgrace,” “If You Ain’t Groovin’ You Best Get Movin’ Dunk.”
Nickname Week rolls on here at Philly Sports History. So far, we’ve taken care of the Eagles and the Flyers. Today we take a look at the best nicknames in the history of the Philadelphia 76ers. There are way too many nicknames in team history to remember them all, but here are 10 of the best in no particular order. As always, let us know if you can think of any others that should have cracked the Top Ten.
- “World” Lloyd Bernand Free – Lloyd was given the nickname “World” in high school for his all-world talent, so he did the reasonable thing and officially changed his name to World B. Free.
- “The Boston Strangler” Andrew Toney – The origin of this nickname is pretty obvious. He dominated the Celtics in the playoffs, most memorably with a 34 point night in Game Seven of the ’83 Eastern Conference Finals.
- “The Round Mound of Rebound” Charles Barkley – As a stocky 6’5″ forward who took home the rebounding title in ’86-’87, it’s not surprising Sir Charles was given this moniker.
- “Chocolate Thunder” Darryl Dawkins – Dawkins’ nickname came from an unlikely source: Stevie Wonder. In an interview with Dime Magazine, Dawkins told the story: “Stevie Wonder used to come the ball games and they would have a guy sitting with him. And the guy would be holding on to his arm, telling him what’s going on, and he would say, ‘Hey, the big chocolate guy just put down a thunder dunk. The chocolate guy with another monster dunk.’ And Stevie Wonder actually gave me the nickname Chocolate Thunder. So a guy who never saw me can give me that name. I think I can wear that well. I don’t even know if he remembers, it’s been so long, but I’ll keep that.”
- “Dr. J.” Julius Erving – Julius Erving had a buddy in high school, Leon Saunders, who “could outtalk anybody to the point where would lecture whoever else was around.” Because of this, Erving called him the “Professor.” Saunders figured they both should have professional sounding nicknames, so he started calling Erving the “Doctor” and it stuck. It was later shortened to “Dr. J” when he started playing pro basketball.
- “The Answer” Allen Iverson – Although his nickname growing up in Hampton, VA was “Bubba Chuck,” once he was drafted by the Sixers he became “The Answer” for the struggling franchise.
- “Pooh” Johnny Dawkins – Dawkins was nicknamed “Pooh” by his family when he was a child and it lasted.
- “Jellybean” Joe Bryant – A high school teammate gave Bryant the nickname “Jellybean” because he had all the moves of the guard, even though he was a 6’9″ power forward.
- “The Kangaroo Kid” Billy Cunningham – Cunningham was called “The Kangaroo Kid” because of his insane leaping ability.
- “The Big Dipper” Wilt Chamberlain – Wilt had many nicknames, but preferred “The Big Dipper,” which was coined by friends at Overbrook H.S. because he had to dip his head to get through doorways.
More than in any other sport, hockey players refer to their teammates by nickname only. Listen to one post-game interview with a player and you will hear nothing but nicknames when he is talking about his teammates. Other than the obvious ones which just add “ie” or “s” to a shorter version of the players last name (Richie, Carts), nicknames generally come from inside jokes. This phenomenon speaks to the camaraderie of the locker room; the “us” against “them” mentality.
Picking up on Johnny’s list of the Best Nicknames in Eagles History, here is a list of the best nicknames for players who’ve worn the Orange and Black. I’ve also thrown in the best names given to lines in team history. Be sure to let us know if I missed any.
- “Zeus” Dave Schultz (While the media stuck with “Hammer,” his teammates called him “Zeus.”)
- “Big Bird” Don Saleski (His mop top hair made him a dead ringer for the Sesame Street character.)
- Bob “Hound” Kelly
- Andre “Moose” DuPont (He was the size of a moose.)
- “Cowboy” Bill Flett (The guy was literally a cowboy. He grew up wrestling steer and riding broncos. And he dressed like one too, boots and cowboy hat included.)
- “Hawk” Rick MacLeish (After some off-color comments he made to a woman at a bar, she pressed his nose flat with her fingers and said “Hawk Nose! Hawk Nose!.” This happened within earshot of Bill Clement, who coined the name “Hawk.”)
- “Ash Can” Barry Ashbee
- “Frank” Antero Niittymaki (Named after the famous mobster Frank Nitty.)
- “Chico” Robert Esche (Keith Tkachuk saw Eshe’s sticks, which have “R. Esche” on them, and said “When did Chico get here?” referring to goaltending great Glenn “Chico” Resche.)
- “Arnie” Bill Barber (Teammates thought he looked like the pig on Green Acres, Arnold Ziffel.)
- The Legion of Doom (Lindros, LeClair, Renberg)
- The LCB Line (Leach, Clarke, Barber)
- The Fighting Dans (Dan Kordic, Daniel LeCroiux, Scott Daniels)
- The Deuces Wild Line (Gagne, Forsberg, Knuble- all had “2s” in their numbers)
- The Crazy Eights Line (Lindros, Recchi, Fedyk- all had “8s” in their numbers)
- The Blackhawk Down Line (Roenick, Amonte, Zhamnov- all former Blackhawks)
I wanted to do a best nicknames piece on each of the teams in Philly, and I thought I’d start with the Eagles. While there should be no shortage of Phillies and Sixers to choose from, there really aren’t that many great Eagle nicknames. There are a few, however. Here’s the 8 best ones I could think of. Do you have any to add to this list?
- “Concrete Charlie” Chuck Bednarik
- “The Polish Rifle” Ron Jaworski
- Earl “Greasy” Neale
- Andre “Dirty” Waters
- “FredEx” Freddie Mitchell
- “Toast” Izel Jenkins (right)
- “The Minister of Defense” Reggie White
- Marion “Swamp Fox” Campbell