Posted by Neil Paine on June 16, 2009
Back when I was a kid, my friends and I used to play this old dice basketball game on rainy days when conditions didn't permit outdoor hoops. The game was pretty simple in and of itself, but the way we approached it wasn't -- we eventually created entire leagues with hand-scribbled schedules and logos, the copies of which have long since been scattered to the four winds. But the thing was, we always had a problem with player names. We tried using real NBA or college players and teams, but since every player had approximately the same "skills" (if you could call it that), it wasn't exactly fun to play a game where Michael Jordan and Craig Ehlo had the same probability of taking over and scoring at will. So we devised fictional players, but the names were so ridiculous, contrived, and lame that the original rosters were destroyed years ago.
What to do about these problems? Well, I don't exactly play dice hoops anymore (truth be told, I'm not quite sure whether I even still have the game set), but I finally got around to putting together a preliminary Excel sheet that will make sure future generations never have to endure the same player-naming issues again: it's a random basketball player name generator! Basically, I fed the name of every player in NBA, ABA, BAA, NBA Draft, & McDonald's All-America history (plus nicknames, selected playground stars, and pre-1950 NCAA All-Americans) into a sheet, so that Excel will randomly select names in proportion to the rate at which real-life "basketball players" have certain names. I also set up a random college generator which will assign a school to your player (or "High School", if your guy jumped straight to the pros) at the real-life rates for each college program in NBA/ABA history.
Because who doesn't want to play with a randomly-generated starting lineup like this?
Player College -------------------------------------------------- PG Larry Morrison Michigan State University SG Al Cooke La Salle University SF Fly Jackson University of California, Los Angeles PF Winston Jones Auburn University C Bill Gaines Colorado State University
Can you imagine UCLA's own Fly Jackson zooming down the court on the break, looking like a modern-day Dr. J clone, while Larry Morrison and Al Cooke camp out on the wings, waiting for the kick-out? You can't? Well, I can. And that makes me a huge basketball geek... A label I wear with pride, naturally.
Now, there is one thing I haven't worked out yet, since this is only version 1.0: names are not guaranteed to be culturally natural-sounding. You might get a French first name with a German surname, for instance. It's something I'll have to work out in the future, but for now, at least there's something to fill the massive niche out there for a random basketball-player name generator. Because the internet wouldn't be complete without it.
You can download the Excel sheet here.