Word on the Street

One-Name Litmus Test (wun-name lit’-muhs test) noun. A method used to determine the relative greatness of an NBA player: If the player is regularly referred to and easily recognized by a single name (or nickname), then his greatness transcends any tangible value. That player therefore should be considered “untradeable” under any circumstances.

Usage example:There has never been any question about whether the Cleveland Cavaliers organization would kill themselves to hold onto LeBron. He passed the One-Name Litmus Test while he was still in high school.

Word history: The term was coined by Bill Simmons in an article titled Lakers ignored history’s mistakes. While discussing a list of all-time greats who had been traded (Sir Charles, Shaq, Kareem, Wilt), Simmons paused to reflect on the relationship between greatness and single-name recognition:

“And yes, there’s a reason I only used first names for the guys in the preceding paragraph. They earned the right to be mentioned on a first-name basis. And that’s a good rule of thumb, for any team in any sport – you probably don’t want to lose someone who can carry off a single name. Call it the One-Name Litmus Test.”

One notable exception to the One-Name Litmus Test is Denver Nuggets center Nene. However, this represents a contrived attempt at joining the One-Name Club, since he had his name legally changed (although I can’t blame him for not wanting to go by his given name of Maybyner Rodney Hilario). This deception may or may not have played a part in the ridiculous $60 million contract he recently signed.

Word trivia: Notable “one-namers” include: Dominique, Isiah, Larry, Hakeem, Kareem, Kobe, LeBron, Magic, Michael, Moses, Oscar, Shaq, Wilt. If for some reason you don’t immediately recognize any of these names, you’re a disgrace to your sport and you probably hate your mother.

Forget it, Nene. You aren’t in the club.


Labels: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar / Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) / LeBron James / Charles Barkley (Sir Charles) / Dominique WilkinsIsiah ThomasLarry BirdHakeem OlajuwonKobe BryantMagic JohnsonMichael JordanMoses MaloneOscar Robertson / Wilt Chamberlain / Nene Hilario / Cleveland Cavaliers / Denver NuggetsWord on the Street


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