15 sports stars that go by one name

Published: Friday, March 25 2011 3:32 p.m. MDT

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
There is a point when celebrity status turns sports stars into single-named icons. Whether it is by ease of name, or actual merit, here is our list of sports stars that have attained the fabled "single name." I am sure that we have missed more than a few, feel free to put in the comments any other stars that you think should belong on this list.
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Magna Ute Fan
Magna, UT

Are these supposed to be ranked in some special order? Lance? No he is not known as Lance in my world. If you said you were excited to see Lance I wouldn't know what you were talking about. He's generally referred to as Lance Armstrong. Just because you the best in your field doesn't mean your a one name phenom. IMHO

Sandy, UT

It's quite a stretch to say Wayne Gretzky goes by "Gretzky". Isn't he the Great One? and since when has Michael Jordan been known as Jordan and not Michael. This list is lame.

Kearns, UT

You missed Deacon (Vern Law), Killer (Harmon Killebrew), Yaz (Carl Yastremski), and a host of others. How about Duke (Snyder) or Murph (Dale Murphy)? These are just baseball players and everyone who paid attention would know exactly who you were talking about if you mentioned them by these nicknames.

Grouse Creek, UT

When I say Kareem, Wilt, Mailman, Sir Charles, Hakeem, Coach K, Sweetness, Big T, LT, Pearle, Big E, Dr. J, Smokin Joe, Pistle Pete, who do you think of? Just to name a few.

Provo, UT

We all love Jimmer and maybe, just maybe, he'll be half the player or athlete of some of the players on savethewest's list.

papa ute
murray, ut

Ute guy that cheers for Jimmer, that's me. He needs to make it in the nba before he is on the list? I hope he does.

Provo, UT

I thought the list was generally lame and Magna Ute hit the nail on the head. I think most people refer to Michael Jordan as MJ or Michael vs. Jordan. It was always Mohamed Ali, not just Ali, it was always the Great One, not Gretzky. Lance, not sure where he got that one. Great athlete for sure but it was always "Lance Armstrong." How can "Jack" Nicklaus not be on that list? I mean, "Jack is Back" was the mantra at the 1986 masters and until Tiger wins 18 majors he was the best of all time. Jimmer is wonderful but should be no where near this list. Maybe some day. I think having Babe #1 was a great pick for such a list so that's why I've limited by criticism to "generally lame." But again, the author for the most part has a memory of 10-15 years. I mean, how about Wilt? Or The Big-O (that would be Oscar Robertson), Or Yaz? Or Sweetness? Or for us that follow baseball with local connections "Deacon." I mean Vern Law did win a Cy Young and a World Series ring.

Sandy, UT

I think the point here was name recognition, not greatness per se.

Right now, at this moment, in this time, Jimmer is another "Single Household Name".

There is no confusion who anyone is talking about when the name "Jimmer" is mentioned.

Like Oprah, Cher, Madonna, Obama, Reagan, Chamberlain, Shaq, Mailman, Namath, Montana, Elway, Oscar, Hakeem, Lombardi, Spitz, Rudy, Brigham, Shaquira, Jimmer, Favre (Farve), or Bundy, Manson, Hannibal, one name defines them.

However, now many so called rising stars are "Annointing" themselves, single name status. Long before they've done anything of note..

This list shows a youthful naivete and could have been presented with better clarification.

Lincoln, NE

This article was pointless and inaccurate. Rudy was not the first player carried off the field by his teammates. He was the last Notre Dame football player to be carried off the field. The whole reason this list exists is to give Jimmer another mention. It's sad that this is all the newspaper and even the state has to boast about.

American Fork, UT

I would have liked to see Elway, Hakeem, Kareem, and Wilt on this list. The list is pretty inconsistent though. Some of them are real names turned into one-name handles. Others, like Magic and Babe, are nicknames. If you include nicknames, you have to add Mailman and Sweetness and Dr. J for sure. Larry Legend could easily qualify. One other beef. In his heyday, Michael Jordan was known as just plain "Michael." Michael Jackson had that one-namer as well, but after that Michael went off the deep end in the mid-90's, "Michael" meant one thing: Michael Jordan.

Provo, UT

What about the Brazilian soccer great, Kaka? How does a name like that not make the list?

Apo, AP

No matter what list of 15 or 20 you come up with, someone will say it's not good enough because they would have done it differently.

I agree with what Bluto said, it's about single-name recognition for athletes. I don't think Lance is quite in that status, nor is Chamberlain or Larry, but 'Wilt' and 'Bird' are another story. Michael (Phelps or Jordan?) isn't quite there either, but Jordan is unmistakable.

There's no mistaking 'Jimmer', though he hasn't got the years of name recognition that NBA hall-of-famer's have.

It might be better to narrow it down to first-name basis recognition. Tiger and Kobe would be at or near the top (in the US).

Mount Olympus
Holladay, UT

Why not make a list with famous first names? I mean, yes everyone when you mention Jordan knows it is Michael Jordan, but when you say Vick everyone knows michael vick.
How about a list of players who you can just say their first name and everyone knows who you are talking about. LeBron, Kobe, etc. You could put Jimmer on that list.


Larry. Isaiah. Hakeem. Stockton. OOOOOOstertag.

Go Utes, CA

The problem with this kind of list is it has more to do with having a unique name than being great. Plyxply hit it on the head by listing Ostertag. Everyone knows who you mean when you say Ostertag, but it doesn't suggest greatness.

Logan, UT

Most of the names included are legends. In ten years only a hand full of people outside of Utah will remember who Jimmer is.

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