Basketball breakdown: Big players, even bigger nicknames

Nov. 6, 2018, 7:15 a.m.

“Pluto is not a planet, but I am,” Shaquille ‘The Big Shamrock’ O’Neal said. 

Despite the layers of Stanford-issued sweats, fancy backpacks and motorized bikes, athletes on the Farm are, for the most part, no different from anyone else. We all take the same mind-bending classes. We all devour (or suffer) the same dining hall food. We all wish we could sleep just a little bit longer in the mornings.

However, the greatest difference between your average Stanford athlete and your average non-athletic regular person (NARP) lies in physical attributes. Due to their unholy training schedules and olympic-level genes, athletes by and large are much stronger, faster and larger than NARPs. In no sport is this more apparent than basketball. The height of basketball players is virtually unparalleled in the sports world, and for us NARPs, it is frankly inconceivable to be that tall.

As such, this article will attempt to scale down these dribbling giraffes into units that are more suitable for our NARP minds. Each player from the 2018-19 Stanford men’s basketball team will have their height redefined in terms of common objects found in the world around us.

This has proven to be an effective identification tactic throughout the history of sports, as shown through the nicknames of universal legends like the Chicago Bears’ defensive lineman William “The Fridge” Perry, NBA center Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain and most notably, British sprinter Linford “Linford’s Lunchbox” Christie. (The nickname was bestowed by the British media after seeing him in his compression racing shorts.) Hopefully the comparisons will help put an end to the age-old question of “How tall are you?” for these players.

Beginning with the “vertically challenged” members of the men’s team, Stanford’s roster starts on the small side with junior Rodney “Icebox” Herenton (6’1”) and sophomores Isaac “Strike” White (6’2”) and Daejon “Home Theater” Davis (6’3”). Herenton is about as tall as your average side-by-side refrigerator/freezer combo. White stands as tall as five bowling pins placed on top of one another. A 4K High Definition TV the size of Davis would go for anywhere between $1,500 and $2,000, and watching the Cardinal play on it would be the next best thing to actually being in Maples.

Our next category of players certainly aren’t the tallest on the team, but their size makes people assume that they have probably played basketball at some point in their life. Freshman Sam “8-Ball” Beskind (6’4”) is not named here for his billiards prowess, but rather for the fact that eight basketballs would stack to the top of his head.

Origins of Marcus “Chef” Sheffield’s (6’5”)  designated nickname do not stem from his last name as popular opinion would have you believe. He received it after people realized he was best quantified as seven small microwaves piled on top of each other.

Lay Cormac “Big Mac” Ryan (“6’5”) out on the floor and you could line up more than 20 of his namesake burgers next to him.

Bryce “Motor Trend Truck of the Year” Wills (6’6”) has the most obvious nickname of the group, as he measures up to the roof of a Ford F-150.

The third division of the team is so tall that there is almost no question to a NARP passerby that these men are bona fide athletes. These lanky titans include sophomores Kodye “Gatekeeper” Pugh (6’8”),  KZ “Spin Cycle” Okpala (6’9”), Oscar “Icebox Jr.” da Silva (6’9”) and freshman Jaiden “Squeaky Clean” Delaire (6’9”).

Pugh’s height can be described best as one regular door tall. As suggested by his name, Pugh represents the basketball team’s “Door-Demarcation Line” (DDL), meaning that everyone taller than him has to duck under the average doorway.

Thought to have come from his impressive ball-handling, Okpala’s nickname actually represents the fact that he is as high as a stacked washer-dryer combo. Taking after “Icebox” Herenton, da Silva has as much height as four 1.7 cubic foot mini-fridges. The cleanest member of the team, Delaire stands just under the industry standard height for showerheads.

Our final category is also the most anticipated, for above this mighty forest stand the sequoias. As his name suggests, freshman Lukas “Little Dipper” Kisunas (6’10”) is the shortest, and he is most accurately represented by 15 teaspoons lined up end to end. Junior Trevor “Match Point” Stanback measures up to three stacked tennis rackets.

Our two tallest trees are freshman Keenan “Bodyboard” Fitzmorris (7’0”) and senior Josh “Big Dreams” Sharma (7’0”). Throw Fitzmorris in the water and he perfectly doubles as a surfboard for those in the 140-160 lb range. As the sole senior on the team, it is fitting that Sharma’s height is best described by the length of a California King mattress.

For those of you keeping track at home, the team this year measures out to a total of 98’10”. As comparison, the court that they play on extends only 94’, and they would even out-stretch two consecutive school buses if they all laid down end-to-end. A run of the team’s length on Sunday by Todd Gurley would net you 3.3 points for your fantasy team.

In anticipation of the 2018-2019 men’s basketball team, Shakespeare wrote the following nearly 420 years ago: “Why, man, [they] doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus, and we petty men walk under [their] huge legs and peep about.”

The Cardinal will be an exciting team to watch this year, as they are not only a promising young team, but more importantly they are models of the ideal physical human condition. Also they’re tall.

Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’

James Hemker '21 is a current Senior Staff Writer and former Managing Editor of the sports section. A computer science major, he has made the cross-country journey to the Farm from Baltimore, MD. After being tortured for years by the Washington Football Team, Browns, and Orioles, the wide successes of the Cardinal have shown him that the teams you root for can in fact win championships. Contact James at jhemker 'at'

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