I recently moved from Massachusetts to Indiana (with some time spent in Ohio) and don't currently have in apartment internet. However, that doesn't mean I can't throw a little great name ness your way via the Indiana University (Bloomington) Library!
With no internet, I've had to somehow fill up my free time in the day normally spent wasting time on mlbtraderumors. So I've been playing a lot of NBA In the Zone '98 for the N64. Which is one of the best games ever for 2 reasons:
1. God Shammgod is the last guard on the Washington Wizards roster. Obviouslly I immediatly traded for him, and he currently averages 24 points a game (with 3 minute quarters).
2. The game, in general, came out in one of the best great name seasons in NBA history. And one of its greatest is none other than the man this post is about, Yinka Dare (pronounced Dar-ay).
Dare, originally from Kano, Nigeria, was discovered at the age of 19 by a lawyer who saw that Dare was "very tall" and eating a bowl of food. Why this meant he would be perfect for basketball I do not know, but the man approached Dare and asked him if he would like to try. Though Dare played only tennis at the time, he decided to try out basketball, and actually became pretty good. Good enough, that is, to make the George Washington University Sqaud. In 1992-93, his freshman year, Dare led the team to the Sweet 16 of the March Madness tourney, the farthest they had ever been. A year later they advanced to the second round, which wasn't as far, but was still quite impressive considering that GWU sucked before his arrival. Dare had completely turned the team around, and was drafted 14th overall by the Nets in the '94 draft as a result.
Now Dare didn't have a great career (as you could imagine since most guys I list didn't), but what makes it funnier is what he told reporters after the draft. When asked what he thought about his game and the teams that passed over him, Dare had the following to say:
"When I see myself play, I think of Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal. For instance, Shaq is explosive around the basket, and I am, too. If I play my best, I'll be better than some of the best big men who ever played. I'm going to be an All-Star. The teams that didn't draft me made a mistake."
Lifetime stats? 2.1 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, far less impressive than the man predicted. He does hold an NBA record however, though it's a bad one: Most consecutive minutes played without an assist. 77 games and 770 minutes over parts of three seasons (he only played three minutes in season one) without a single assist. That's impressive to say the least, especially considering that in his healthiest season (his second season in the league, with 52 games), Yinka had 72 turnovers and 0 assists. For his career he had 4 assists to go against 96 turnovers, which is pretty damn embarassing. But he somehow lasted four years in the league, so somebody liked the dude (although Kenny Anderson apparently called him "Stinka" Dare, and others "Black Hole" since the ball disapeered in his hands.)
After a 1998 trade to the Magic, Yinka was cut and subsequently retired from the NBA. He did play a few years in the NBA and USBL until 2003, but his life was sadly cut short in 2004 following a heart attack at the age of 32. A damn shame, because though he was a pretty terrible basketball player in some aspects, it seemed that Yinka was a great guy off the court, as every quote I've found about Yinka (except for the ones about his handles) seems to be a positive one.
At least the guy can be remembered fondly though. For those of you who owned 1995's NBA Jam Tournament Edition, Yinka Dare is a bonus player available on the All Rookie team and can be unlocked for the Nets if you beat the game. He's obviously available in In the Zone '98 (he rebounds like crazy!) and he's even got a tribute site that remembers Yinka's greatest feats, including how he invented water and a list of the many fine ladies Yinka dated at some point. And, of course, he'll always be remembered here at GSNHOF, whether he is elected to the Hall or not.
So congratulations on being nominated to the Great Sports Name Hall of Fame Yinka Dare, may you never have to pass anything wherever you are now!
To see the best sports names of all time, visit the Truly Great Names page.
To see some good sports names that were voted out, visit the Good Names page.
To see the current voting ballot, visit the Ballot page.