The campaign to find a nickname for Kevin Durant has gotten out of control.
Earlier this week, ESPN gave the movement a Twitter hashtag. That seemed downright absurd. But then, #NAMEDURANT actually started trending. Enough people cared about the Thunder superstar’s nickname that it was one the hottest topics on the social media site.
What in the name of Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins is going on here?
Nicknames have long been a staple in basketball, even going back to the days of Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain and Oscar “The Big O” Robertson, but then, having a special moniker was often a sign of superstar status. These days, every player drawing an NBA paycheck seems to have a nickname. Miami and Brooklyn played earlier this season with every player wearing his nickname rather than his last name on the back of his jersey.
The whole thing has become an infatuation, and right now, the face of craze is Durant.
Is he The Slim Reaper? Iceberg Slim? Iceman Slim? Durantula? The Servant?
Durant actually nicknamed himself The Servant during All-Star Game weekend, saying that he liked to serve everyone from teammates to fans to ushers at the arena.
(Seemed like a nice counterbalance to and maybe even a slight jab at his biggest rival, LeBron James, who comes to town Thursday night. The Chosen One vs. The Servant.)
“I was definitely joking around with The Servant thing,” Durant said Wednesday after practice.
“You can call me Kevin. You can call me KD,” he said. “A lot of people are trying to make up nicknames for me, but Kevin and KD, I’ll stick with those two.”
For good reason: Kevin is his given name and KD is his nickname.
Yes, Durant already has a nickname, and it’s a pretty darn good one at that. KD is classic. Simple. Rolls off the tongue even.
There’s a line in an ESPN.com story about Durant’s nickname that says, “Despite being one of the game’s biggest stars, Durant never has truly embraced a nickname,” but that just ain’t true. Yes, he’s never truly embraced one of those made-up nicknames. And who can blame him?
I mean, they’re funny and creative, but does anyone really want to be called that by other people?
“Hey, Durantula, we’re going to Arby’s. Want anything?”
No, no, no. No one is ever going to do that.
“We love you, KD.”
Yep, that works quite nicely.
“I like the initials,” Durant said. “It’s like KG, AI, those guys.”
Some people are blessed with good initials. Kevin Garnett is KG. Allen Iverson is AI. Heck, the greatest of them all was best known by his initials.
Even though folks tried to stick Michael Jordan with other nicknames — Air Jordan prime among them — those initials were all that he needed.
No reason that KD isn’t enough of a nickname for Durant. Say KD, and everyone in sports knows exactly who you’re talking about. If Durant keeps on the trajectory that he’s on now, it won’t be long before the whole world knows about KD.
One Internet blogger suggested KD as a nickname is lame.
In what universe?
It’s so unlame that Nike, the reigning and undisputed king of promotion, built an entire apparel line around the initials. There are KD shoes. KD shirts. KD hats. KD jackets. KD backpacks.
Listen, I understand the love of nicknames. It’s fun talking about Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), Skip to My Lou (Rafer Alston), The Birdman (Chris Andersen), Melo (Carmelo Anthony) and Agent Zero (Gilbert Arenas).
And those are just the As.
There are classic nicknames from yesteryear. The Iceman. Earl the Pearl. Pistol Pete.
There are memorable nicknames from more recent times. The Dream. The Mailman. The Glove.
There are nicknames that just make you smile. The Round Mound of Rebound. The Hick from French Lick. The Worm.
And then there’s Shaquille O’Neal. He’s a nickname category all on his own. You can call him Shaq Daddy. Or Shaq Fu. Or The Big Aristotle. Or about half a dozen other names.
You can’t throw a chest pass in the NBA without hitting someone with a nickname.
So, now with Durant playing the best basketball of his career and emerging as the clear-cut leader in the MVP race, fans have gotten hung up on his nickname. He needs one, and the sports world is ready to do something about it, darn it.
But he already has one. One that’s good. One that he likes.
Suspend the campaign. Stop the movement. End the madness.
KD has spoken.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni Carlson can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.