Nickname origin stories are fun. Not just-for-sports nicknames like Paul “The Truth” Pierce or Joel “Ghostface” Pryzbilla. Real nicknames; the kind that show up on team rosters and that players go by in their everyday lives, often to the point that the people around them don’t even realize that they go by nicknames at all.
Several players with crazy nicknames have played for the Boston Celtics. Here are the craziest five of them. All of these stories are true and supportable by a cursory Google search.
5. “Mikki” Moore
Mikki Moore’s real name is Clinton, not Mikki, a name famous for not sounding like it’s supposed to. Mikki was nicknamed after “Little Mikey” from the Life Cereal commercials, apparently because he loved Life Cereal as a kid. I bet he really enjoyed spending his last five years in the NBA trying to explain that to his teammates, most of whom were born ten years after that commercial last aired on television.
Stephen Curry, 2010: Why do they call you Mikki?
Mikki: Because I enjoyed Life Cereal to a degree that drew comparisons to the boy from the Life Cereal commercials.
Mikki: There was a boy named Mikey who appeared in Life Cereal commercials in the 70’s. He hated everything, but he loved Life Cereal, and he gave the other children the courage to try Life Cereal for themselves.
Mikki: It was a wonderful commercial.
Stephen: Then…why is it spelled that way? Shouldn’t it be spelled the same way as the kid’s name? Who came up with that spelling?
Mikki: (is waived by Golden State)
4. “PJ” Brown
PJ Brown has neither a “P” nor a “J” in his entire name. His real name is Collier. He was named PJ as a child because, to the best of his recollection, he loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
So that’s two NBA players who took their permanent names from the foods they enjoyed as children. That makes sense. All my friends call me “Scrambled Eggs with Chopped-Up Hotdogs and Magic Shell.”
3. “Theo” Ratliff.
Theo Ratliff’s nickname is not weird. But his real name is not Theodore.
2. “Popeye” Jones
Most people assume Popeye Jones got the nickname “Popeye” because he looks like this:
Somehow those people are wrong.
Popeye (real name Ronald) got his name when he came home from the hospital as a newborn infant and his brother was watching a Popeye cartoon on television. So, to recap: Popeye Jones got his nickname on the day he was born, and then coincidentally developed eyes that popped out of his face.
1. “Bimbo” Coles
As we wrap things up here, I just want to point out that none of these players was on the Celtics for more than one season.
Bimbo Coles’s real name is Vernell Eufaye Coles. He has one of those nicknames that everyone just instinctively knows is a childhood nickname, and one of those careers where nobody bothers to find out where it comes from. Turns out he was given his nickname by his cousin, who got it from a very old country song recorded by a number of now-dead singers. Here is that song.
Nicknames! They can certainly be inexplicable.