On Saturday, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s Detroit Pistons will take on Michael Carter-Williams’s Philadelphia 76ers in a clash of the players that must surely bring nightmares to NBA team jersey-sellers.
But the NBA hyphenated name fraternity doesn’t stop with predictably nicknamed guards KCP and MCW.
Last season, the Charlotte Hornets roster featured the character-heavy pair of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Chris Douglas-Roberts. The small forwards were close friends years before the latter – now with the Los Angeles Clippers – joined the former on the then-Bobcats.
A double-barrelled kinship, perhaps? Do Kidd-Gilchrist and Douglas-Roberts get on well because they both remember the pain of having to choose just one family name when their junior basketball team could not afford to put the whole thing on the back of their shirts?
Charlotte Hornets forward MIchael Kidd-Gilchrist. Picture: AP
Holding Court can’t remember a time when so many players with hyphens in their names were playing in the NBA.
What if we could liberate the league’s multisyllabic marvels from their current NBA teams and cobble together a squad consisting entirely of dual-monikered, er, dunkers? (Sorry). How would this heavily lettered team have fared if entered into the 2014-15 NBA season? Let’s see.
Clue: Pickings are slim after the aforementioned foursome ...
The NBA All-Hyphenated Team
Point guard: Michael Carter-Williams
Shooting guard: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Small forward: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Power forward: Chris Douglas-Roberts
Centre: Joel-Hans Embiid
Okay, we cheated with Embiid. But he does hyphenate his first name on his Twitter account @JoelEmbiid (on which he has propositioned Kim Kardashian and told LeBron James why he should sign with the Sixers – follow now!).
Fine, he’s out. Family names only.
So our centre becomes Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, the 34-year-old Belgian-Congolese big man who briefly held an NBA contract with the New York Knicks in October. You may know him as DJ Mbenga, a veteran of 234 NBA games with the Mavericks and Lakers, among others. Then again, you may not (though DJ did win an NBA title with the Lakers in 2009).
Belgian-Congolese centre DJ Mbenga with the NBA championship ring he won with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009. Picture: AFP
Our bench consists of former NBA players Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Darius Johnson-Odom, Khalid El-Amin and Ha Seung-jin, who, presumably, would kill for the chance to return to the NBA, even if only to join our ragtag squad.
Remember that old CBA team, the Yakima Sun-Kings? We have our team name, ladies and gentlemen. Coach? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of course.
Okay, this team is winning nothing. It might not be totally terrible – positions one to four feature long-armed athletes who could excel on the defensive end of the court. But with a small forward playing power forward and a has-been-who-never-really-was playing centre, nobody is losing any sleep over this imaginary 31st NBA franchise.
That means we can expect, at least, a high pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. With any luck, we get Kentucky centre Willie Cauley-Stein in the first round. Maybe Arizona small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson falls to us early in the second round.
Then we buy a couple of extra second-rounders – our shareholders Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jennifer Love-Hewitt will stump up the cash – and draft Washington point guard Nigel Williams-Goss and Iowa State shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones.
Now we have a team! A real centre and a young bench might at least help us compete in the NBA, though the Sun-Kings remain unlikely to add ‘title-winners’ to the list of grammatically linked phrases with which they are associated.
Perhaps The NBA All-Hyphenated Legends would fare slightly better:
Point guard: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (one of the NBA’s greatest-ever free-throw shooters)
Shooting guard: Mahdi Abdul-Rahman (played 11 NBA seasons after leading UCLA to the 1964 national championship)
Small forward: Zaid Abdul-Aziz (played 10 seasons in the NBA, averaging nine points per game over his career)
Power forward: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (who averaged more than 18 points per game over his 13-year NBA career)
Centre: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (whom Holding Court recently voted as the greatest centre to ever play the game)
Jamie Goodwin is Web News Editor on gulfnews.com and has been an avid follower of the NBA for more than 20 years.