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May 1, 2013

"Batman Strikes Again!"

-- Calling dibs on the Derrick Favor's Nickname Rights

I recently discovered the meaning of the word ‘cognomen’, which I’m taught is a synonym of the word ‘nickname’, or to put it another way, cognomen is Nickname’s nickname. And it’s not the only one. The word ‘nickname’ is also known to go by ‘handle’, ‘moniker’ and even something that reads on paper as ‘sobriquet’. My own nicknames — er cognomens — have never come off the tongue as fluidly as those above: the Uruguayan Lion, Climps the Clamp, and Nosepicker always carried an inherent weakness that prevented them from ever sticking, either too long, too alliterative, or just plain sad. These attempts at name improvement (some given by me, one given by others) all arose from the need to spruce up the plain ol’ name of Spencer. Has there ever been a name with less nickname potential? What rhymes with Spencer? It can’t be lengthened and on the flip side I've never been able to pull off Spence.

That being said, the inability to carry a cognomen has never stopped me from bestowing nicknames on others. 20 years of nicknaming has revealed my four all-time favorites:

Formerly Elroy, now Gazellroy (the guy’s a biker more than a runner, so the name doesn't fit so much as I  just like how it sounds)

Formerly Miguel, now Smiguel (He liked the Lord of the Rings a lot, so ...) 

Formerly Paul, now Cerebral Paulsy (He was a psych major so this one was gift-wrapped. And yes, I’ll allow you to use this on your Paul friends.)

Formerly James, now Jimmer (OK, I didn't come up with this one. Was just checking to see if you were still paying attention)

Now believe it or not, even though I've referred to myself some twenty times already in this barely paragraph-and-a-half long post, this whole nickname business is not intended to be about me. This post is destined for Derrick Favors, the Jazz’s current and future defensive annihilator.

A glance through the history books reveals that athletes used to dominate the nickname market. The Fridge, the Mailman, the Round Mound of Rebound, Pocket Hercules, the Minister of Defense, the Human Eraser. These are nicknames to be remembered. The monikers of the current crop of footballers and basketballers has been … well, less than memorable. I’ll admit that I’m not a professional athlete, so I don’t know what is considered cool in their circles, but in my circle it is not cool to have a nickname that is simply your initials. I’m talking to you, AI, KD, MJD, LBJ. It’s also not cool to mix your initials with your number, CJ2K, RG3 and CP3. Or to go by the first letter of your first name and part of your last, messieurs Arod, Dwill and Drose. 22. Except for you Zron. You just keep on Zronning.

If you read enough sports blogs you’ll know that this is a familiar complaint so I won’t spend more time ragging on the failure of the education system in developing creative sports heroes. Instead let’s agree to give Derrick Favors – who is on his way to the level or stardom that requires nicknaming – a cognomen that isn't crappy. I don’t need it to be great. I just need it not to be DFave or DF or D15.

And while we’re making requests here’s one other thing – let’s make his nickname Batman.

Yes, now you recognize the point of this article. It’s a shameful attempt by me to imbibe the masses with the desire to name Favors as Batman, then come back in two years and point to this post and say, “Hey, do you guys remember that I was the first person to call Favors Batman? Cause I do.” And then I’ll feel very proud inside and feel like I’m more important than other people. Or the opposite will happen. Favors will become DFave15 and I’ll end up feeling like Hot Rod Hundley, the Jazz play-by-play voice who tried to re-brand Deron Williams as “Slick” Williams before being told by Deron that he would have none of that. “I prefer Dwill.” Yeah, and Hot Rod prefers Hrod. I’m willing to take the chance.

So let’s transition to the question on your mind: Why Batman?

Reason 1: He looks like Batman.

I have no cable. What does this have to do with anything? I watch most of the Jazz games via, er, uhm, creative internet methods. This approach often results in a screen resolution that broadcasts in the 45 to 65 pixel range. There are no recognizable faces, numbers or tattoos - just blurs. The players are indistinguishable from one another, with the exception of one Derrick Favors. When Favors comes onto my NES screen you notice immediately due to his pure size. And the first time I saw this imposing, blurry,dark force on the court defending the pick and roll, stretching his arms to their full wing span in an attempt to envelop the opposing point guard, he actually looked like he was Batman, expanding his cape as he fell from the sky to destroy his prey. I searched long and hard hoping to find a picture to illustrate what I saw that day; alas I found no such image. Just watch the next game, switch to the non-HD channel, wait for the other team to run the pick and roll, squint your eyes and see for yourself.

Reason 2: He is compared to Dwight Howard, aka Superman.

Jazz voice David Locke has been pumping the news lately that Derrick Favors is Dwight Howard lite. I don’t know if I necessarily believe that, but if it ends up being truth then it only makes sense that if Dwight Howard is Superman, Derrick Favors be Batman. If Favors were to become Howard 2.0, the rivalry between Dwight and Derrick will instantly become as great as the beloved Superman/Batman showdown.33. This assumes you can even call Batman vs Superman a rivalry. Considering Batman’s track record vs Superman (undefeated, if I recall correctly), the contest has always been more wipedown than showdown. The personality of Favors even fits the Batman role. While Dwight roams the NBA as a smiley, crowd-pleasing do-gooder who plays up the role of Clark Kent perfectly, Favors — quiet, focused, contemplative – could readily step into the role of Bruce Wayne.

Reason 3: He destroys the villains that seek to torment Gotham City.

Marcin Gortat looks like he’s a European terrorist. Or drug lord, or hooker salesman. And his aim in yesterday’s Jazz-Suns game was to destroy the happiness of the people of Gotham City (cognomen: West Valley City). Gortat had terrorized us in the past and was intent on doing it once again. And that’s why Ty Corbin, with a simple nod to the bench, sent out the Bat signal. Favors jumped off the bench, left the Bruce Wayne warm-ups on the floor, and proceeded to do this. And you know what happened after that? Gortat did not make another play of import during the rest of that game. Crisis averted. Gotham saved.

Reason 4: I love Batman.

And I’d love to say “Batman strikes again!” every time Favors blocks someone’s shot.
And I’d love to say “Corbin just flashed the bat signal”, every time Favors is called off the bench.
And I’d love to say “Did you see last night’s episode?” instead of “Did you see last night’s game?”

Reason 5: Naming Favors as Batman would take the name away from Manu Ginobli.

I absolutely, unequivocally, irrevocably despise Manu Ginobli. He and his Spur comrades are the worst of the worst, as I will detail in a post to be seen later this week. But he deserves credit for one cool thing. He knocked a bat out of the air once. It was tremendous. But that does not mean Manu Ginobli could ever in one thousand NBA seasons be considered cool enough for the nickname of Batman. Why? Because he flops. And if Batman played ball he would never once flop. We give this name to Favors and we solve one of the many injustices of the NBA.

Reason 6: It’s not DFave. Or DF. Or DF15.

No further explanation necessary.

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