I liked it last week when Eric Freeman inadvertently created a new nickname for Congolese draft prospect Bismack Biyombo, when he labeled him a "boom-bust" sort of player. Considering his initials, his relatively raw game, and uneasiness regarding his correct age (Biyombo continues to insist that he's 18 years old, though some dispute that), I think that scans quite well.
But Bismack won't have it. "Boom-Bust" isn't good enough for him. And from Grantland and via The Basketball Jones, comes this brilliant interview that features Biyombo moving far, far past "Boom-Bust" and into altogether more unsettling and more hilarious areas of nicknamedom.
Grantland: The first thing you need when you enter the NBA is the perfect nickname. Do you already have any in mind? Or do you need the hookup?
Biyombo: [Laughing.] I have a lot of nicknames. Growing up my friends, my brothers, and my cousins always called me "Master." They were being sarcastic, I think, because I am always bossing them around. So, when I first step in the League in Congo, my teammates hear my brothers call me that, and they start to call me "Young Master." Then I keep growing, and they take the "Young" away, so I'm just "Master" again. Now when I go home and show up at the court, they still call me Master.
In Spain, one day when I was walking to the gym, [former teammate Esteban] Batista called me
"'La Pantera" — "The Black Panther." He just made it up that second but the name stuck. At my agent's office, I walk down the hallway and everyone says, "La Pantera, La Pantera." I like it — "The Black Panther" — that's my favorite.
Then in Portland at the Hoops Summit, my teammates were calling me all kinds of nicknames! They called me "Big Mac" and I was like, "What? What is this, Big Mac?" Then one guy was like, "We want to call you 'Big Smack.'" So I said, "OK, you can call me 'Big Smack.' I can roll with that." They had all kinds of nicknames for me, a different one every day. Kevin Pangos, the Canadian, one time he said during practice, "Dude, you're the [expletive] 'Business,' man. That's your new name." I asked why. He said, "Dude, when you're on the floor, you're all business. We're gonna call you 'The Business.'" Soon everyone was calling me "The Business." It's amazing how fast you can get a nickname. When I'm in the League, I think I'll have no choice. People will call me something, and I'll just have to go with it.
OK, if you don't want "La Pantera," I'll take it. I have many black shirts, black jeans, black shoes and black sport coats. Sure, my skin tone is a whiter shade of pale, but I can make it work. Also, if you even sniff at becoming a fantastic, All-Star level player, I will call you "La Pantera" at every possible opportunity.
What Young (Or, Potentially, Older) Master can also make work is the high-percentage shot, as documented by the Sporting News' Chris Littman:
That's no small feat. Teams like to ask prospects to dunk in quickness drills that often see them stuffing until they get stuffed by the rim and collapse in a heap due to the exertion caused by having to try to dunk a series of basketballs on a 10-foot goal in no time at all. So for him to toss in 75 straight, after weeks' worth of workouts, is pretty impressive.
Even if Littman relays that Tristan Thompson and Nikola Vucevic (!) dunked over a hundred in a row during their workouts:
Consider me officially interested in Thursday's draft.