In 1987, when the Pistons were playing the Celtics in the
Eastern Conference finals at the Boston Garden, Detroit point
guard Isiah Thomas was concerned about being harassed by Boston
fans at the Pistons' hotel, so to deflect crank calls he
registered under an alias: Raquel Welch. "I ordered room
service," Thomas recalls. "It was the fastest response I ever
got. The guy who brought it up was very, very disappointed when
I opened the door."
On the road most NBA stars register under aliases. Moreover,
they frequently change them to keep their fans--and the
media--off their tails. Below are some of the names NBA figures
Kenny Anderson, Trail Blazers: Christian Dior.
Charles Barkley, Rockets: Once relied on names of Negro leagues
baseball stars (catcher Josh Gibson was his favorite) but last
season tried out Bob Gibson, Willie Mays and Tiger Woods. His
former favorite: A. Blackman.
Shawn Bradley, Mavericks: Smokey Robinson. He's got sunshine on
a cloudy day....
Horace Grant, Magic: Clemson Tiger, in honor of his alma mater.
Juwan Howard, Wizards: Cassius Clay.
Reggie Miller, Pacers: James Brown. Miller used the moniker of
the Godfather of Soul during Dream Team III training camp in
Chicago, but one morning the hotel asked him to choose a new
name. The reason? The real James Brown was checking in that
Chris Mullin, Pacers: Joe Bagadonuts.
Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers: Enrico Gates. Shaq often likes to
combine the last names of two famous people. In this case, he
chose two wealthy people--Roger Enrico, chairman and CEO of
PepsiCo, and Bill Gates, cofounder of Microsoft.
Gary Payton, Sonics: Godfrey Pickles, pharmacist. The entire
Sonics team made up imaginary names and occupations during the
1997 playoffs. Among the notable aliases (check out the
initials) were those of Detlef Schrempf (Dorcas Sprinkel, pastry
chef), Shawn Kemp (Sylvester Keester, pro wrestler), Hersey
Hawkins (Homer Humperdink, mortician), David Wingate (Digby
Warmflash, hair stylist) and coach George Karl (Gleeford Koob,
Pat Riley, Heat: Mr. Patrick.
Dennis Rodman, Bulls: Jim Shoe. Like gym shoe. Get it?
Chris Webber, Wizards: Redd Foxx or Fred Sanford. Guess which
old TV series happens to be Webber's favorite.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAVID COWLES MILLER DIDN'T FEEL GOOD WHEN THE GODFATHER OF SOUL RECLAIMED HIS NAME [Painting of Reggie Miller and James Brown]