I had a feeling that basketball would be a rich trove of "creative" names, so took a look at the McDonald's players dating back to 1977. A few of my favorites:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. His enthusiasm must be contagious.
Dajuan Coleman, Dajuan Wagner. Neither can quite say he is Dajuan and only.
Amile Jefferson. As in, a miss is as good as a....
Chane Behanan. One descendant of slaves who couldn't quite throw off his shackles.
Adonis Thomas. (I Google imaged him; his parents were a tad optimistic.)
Doron Lamb. At least his parents can differentiate between D and M.
Jrue Holiday. His parents evidently celebrate Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.
Myck Kabongo. Finally, a great Irish basketball player.
Daequan Cook. Isn't that what Christopher Dorner said to basketball coach Monica Quan?
Korvotney Barber. Sounds like the fourth Kardashian sister.
Jawann McClellan. Ja wanna go to the prom with me?
Rajon Rondo. I wonder if it's pronounced, "Rage on." Overall, it's one macho-sounding name.
Kendrick Perkins. Can dribble, too.
Carmelo Anthony. Because I hear this name frequently (I live in the NY area), it no longer sounds funny to me. But when you do pause to think about it, it's quite a coincidence that the caramel-colored Mr. Anthony would have that name.
Jawad Williams. Jawad the Hutt?
Travon Bryant. Mr. Bryant is 6'9", 244 pounds. Had Trayvon been built like Travon, George Zimmerman would never have gotten the better of him.
Majestic Mapp. Imagine the situation. His mother is lying in the hospital ward, having just given birth, and is asked what he wants to name him. She replies, "Majestic." Now imagine the mother.
Korleone Young. Think his father was a fan of The Godfather?
omm'A Givens. That's not a typo: not only is the first letter not capitalized, the last letter is. But given that his first name sounds like "comma," wouldn't it have been more appropriate to insert that punctuation mark rather than an apostrophe? (This name is my absolute favorite.)
Kareem Reid. Mr. Reid was named an All-American in 1994, which means he was born around 1976, Mr. Abdul Jabbar's heyday. Think his father might have been a basketball fan?
Dontonio Wingfield. It sounds sorta like a name, but it's not....quite.
Othella Harrington. Why would his parents name him after Othello's sister and not the man himself?
Sharone Wright. When you're 6'11" and weigh 260 pounds like Mr. Wright, you don't really have to worry all that much about whether you have that "e" at the end of your name.
LaPhonso Ellis. His parents must have hoped their son would grow up to be a black version of The Fonz.
I am always amazed that sportscasters can say these names with a straight face.
As you get back to the 1970's All-Americans, there are fewer "interesting" names. Back then many of the names were only semi-identifiably black, like Dwayne and Antoine and Reginald and Derek (all spelled correctly). In fact, back then there were also plenty of blacks with names like Gene (Banks), Byron (Scott), Ralph (Sampson), and James (Worthy).
I realize that making sport of these names is a little like picking on fashion designers: it's too easy. But both the parents who named these players and the designers whom I've posted about previously have tried way, way too hard to be different purely for the sake of being different. And that sort of pretentiousness always deserves to be mocked.
I should emphasize that the implied criticism here is of the parents, and not the players. None of these players named themselves.
Then again, it's also true that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Or rather, that the Ap'ell does not fall far from the Tyree.