We here at USA TODAY High School Sports love a good-natured debate. Every Wednesday, we'll invite you into our sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted (but always passionate) takes on various topics that pertain to high school sports, and feature commentary from high school athletes. We invite everyone to sound off in the comments and on Twitter and Facebook. Go ahead, tell us why we're wrong. We'll try not to take it personally.
QUESTION: What's the best nickname in sports?
Jim Halley, Reporter
It's great to see nicknames coming back. It used to be everyone had a nickname in sports. The guys I regularly played basketball with called me Rocket. I thought it was because I was fast, but one day, one of them told me I got it because when I launched my shots, there was no telling where they would land. I always like Worm for Dennis Rodman because he could get under opponents' skins. Off hand, I couldn't even tell you what Tree Rollins' real first name was. But my favorite all-time has to be The Mailman, for Karl Malone. He always delivered, except of course when it came to championships.
PHOTOS: The Worst Nicknames in Sports
Jason Jordan, Reporter
The Bone Collector. It’s a famous streetballer from New York whose real name is Larry Williams. He got his name because his handles are so nice he breaks ankles on the regular. I’ve got to say that the name is definitely fitting because I’ve seen him make guys fall with his crossovers. Whew! It’s amazing. My honorable mention is definitely Aquille “The Crimestopper” Carr. He’s from Baltimore and the word is that when he’s playing the crime rate drops because everyone is focused on watching his skills. I love it!
Sarah Gearhart, Reporter
Olympic Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, a.k.a. the Torpedo. The name cracks me up. It's got a slight comic book-like tone to it and sounds intimidating and silly at the same time.
Scott Allen, Content Producer
He Hate Me. I'm not sure if it's the best nickname or the worst nickname — can it be both? — but it's certainly memorable. Years from now, when I'm telling my grandchildren about the failed experiment that was the XFL, Rod Smart, who wore his nickname proudly across the back of his jersey, will be the first thing that comes to mind. Smart would go on to become a decent specials teams player with the Carolina Panthers for a few years, though he abandoned the He Hate Me moniker. He really should've legally changed it like Ocho Cinco.
David Scott, Content Manager
The thing about nicknames is they can’t be given to you by yourself. There are so many nicknames in the world of sports, but when someone says the name, you have to automatically know who they are talking about. That’s when you know it’s a powerful nickname. My vote, Megatron. It’s hard to dispute Calvin Johnson’s football talents and in a sport like football, the nickname Megatron is so fitting. You have these athletes that are basically gladiators, all wearing helmets and pads, add in a visor and you have one bad looking dude.
Suzanne Schwerer, Content Manager
The Two-Headed Monster. This nickname encompasses not one, but two amazing athletes; Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. When you have two of most incredible hockey players in the NHL together on one team, it makes sense to come up a way to reference them together. The Penguins’ broadcast duo of Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey coined the name, and it immediately caught on amongst the Pens dedicated fans. So here’s hoping that we’ll get to see The Two-Headed Monster back in action this season.
NOW LET'S SEE WHAT A FEW STUDENT-ATHLETES AND COACHES HAVE TO SAY…
Elridge Massington, Mesquite (Mesquite, Texas), Football, Class of 2013
My nickname is the best one. It’s Oh-Gotta-Man. It means we’ve got a man beat deep for a touchdown. That means it’s pretty much a touchdown. One of my teammates gave me that name and I love it.
Ra’Shaad Samples, Skyline (Dallas), Football, Class of 2013
Megatron. That’s Calvin Johnson’s nickname. He’s like a superhero out there and he really plays like that. I love that nickname. By far the best one I’ve ever seen.
Madison Temple, Soccer, St. Edward's (Vero Beach, Fla.), Class of 2014
Alex Rodriguex's nickname, A-Rod. I know I wouldn't think of it, but it's just a creative way to shorten his name.
Josh Pastner, University of Memphis Basketball Coach
Magic. All you have to do is say that one name and everyone knows who you're talking about. It's like Madonna. Magic Johnson was magic. But my new favorite is Johnny Football (Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel). He's a heck of a player.
Mike Jones, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) Basketball Coach
The first ones I think of are Chocolate Thunder (one of Darryl Dawkins' many nicknames) and the Round Mound of Rebound (Charles Barkley). I'm not a big Kobe Bryant fan, but Black Mamba is pretty descriptive, the way he strikes at the end of games. At DeMatha, we had one player who we started calling "New Boy" and that stuck all the way through high school.
Steve Turner, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) Basketball Coach
I always liked Lloyd "World B" Free. The Crimestopper (Aquille Carr) is great because of the story behind it. But being from D.C., I always liked "The Big E" for Elvin Hayes and you can't leave out Dr. J (Julius Erving).