|Ortiz ‘fine’ with Shaq as ‘Bigger Papi’||08.22.10 at 5:30 pm ET|
David Ortiz knows nicknames.
So what does the Red Sox slugger think of sharing his own with another star athlete in Boston?
Among the suggestions for newly-signed Celtic Shaquille O’Neal is ‘Bigger Papi,’ a spin-off of Ortiz’s moniker. Big Papi wouldn’t mind.
‘He’s a big dude,’ Ortiz said of the 7-1, 325 pound center. ‘It’s not a big deal. It’s fine.’
O’Neal’s new nickname has been a topic of debate since the big man signed with the Celtics this summer. His past aliases include Big Diesel, Shaq Fu, The Big Aristotle, and Shaqtus when he played for the Suns.
Boston-themed nicknames up for debate range from the Big Shamrock and Green Monster to the Big Leprechaun and Jolly Green Giant.
After 18 years in the NBA, Ortiz thinks O’Neal’s name speaks for itself.
‘I think he’s got a good name,’ Ortiz said. ‘I don’t think he needs to change it. [I'd call him] ‘Big Shaq’ so people know who they’re talking about.’
Ortiz, an avid Celtics fan, has never met O’Neal but plans to do so this season. He believes O’Neal will make a big impact for the Celtics ‘¦ no matter what his nickname is.
‘I think it’s going to be a good addition to the team,’ Ortiz assessed. ‘I’m pretty sure the 15, 20 minutes that he plays are going to be good.’
|What Big Papi Sees in Big Baby||06.01.10 at 12:21 am ET|
But the more Big Papi got to know Big Baby, the more he saw himself.
‘When I’ve watched him playing for the past few years, he kind of gave me goosebumps because he’s just a guy that told me straight up who he wanted to be,’ said Ortiz.
When Ortiz met Davis at Josh Beckett‘s charity bowling event during Davis’ rookie year, he was surprised to learn the ‘humongous dude’ was actually one of the newest members of the Celtics. The two shared a brief conversation, one that has stood out in Ortiz’s mind for years.
‘He said, ‘I’m trying to work hard because I want to be one of them. I want people to remember me in this city as a great player, and I’m working hard to get to it,’’ Ortiz recalled. ‘So I said, ‘Keep on doing what you’re doing and you’re going to be just fine.’’
Davis’ ambition reminded Ortiz of his own. As Ortiz listened to the young athlete, he was taken back to the time when he was an eager ballplayer who had just joined the Red Sox from the Minnesota Twins.
He remembered how anxious he was to put his stamp on Boston, the same sense of excitement Davis exuded.
‘That’s the reason exactly why he caught my attention a lot,’ Ortiz said. ‘I remember when I first got here with the Red Sox coming from Minnesota and there’s nothing but history and great players around. I remember my agent telling me, ‘If you go to this city and play well and help the team to win a World Series, they’re going to remember you forever.’ And I busted my tail off just to do that because it was my goal. Now watching him doing the same thing, it brings me highlights and memories back.’
Now Ortiz enjoys the highlights created by Davis on the court.
‘Big Boy, I’m watching his game all the time,’ he said. Ortiz applauds Davis’ energy, cheers for his intensity, and thinks he is simply ‘awesome.’
‘Just watching him playing and watching him doing his thing out there hustling, he wanted to show the world that he was there, that he is the one guy they could count on,’ said Ortiz.
Davis is hard at work making sure the Celtics, Ortiz, and the city of Boston can do just that.