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 have used.
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 afternoon.
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.