College basketball player Cozell (pronounced coh-ZEHL) McQueen.
He was a sophomore playing for N.C. State the year the team unexpectedly won the 1983 NCAA Tournament.
The N.C. State Wolfpack beat #1 seeded Virginia on its way to the Final Four, then Georgia in the semifinals, and finally Houston — a team that included future superstars Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler — in the championship game.
They wouldn’t have had the chance to win, though, had Cozell McQueen not been a crucial part of the first-round, double-overtime win against Pepperdine.
Cozell was also the player who, following the final win, stood atop one of the rims and held up a “Pack Power” sign in celebration.
I recently updated my old anagram baby names post to make it much more comprehensive. As I worked on it, though, I noticed that many of those sets of names had obvious similarities, such as the same first letters and/or the same rhythm.
So I thought I’d make a second, shorter list of anagram names that were less conspicuously similar. Specifically, I wanted the second list to feature sets of names with different first letters and different numbers of syllables.
And that’s what you’ll find below — pairs of anagram names that are relatively distinct from one another. So much so that, at first glance (or listen), some might not even strike you as being anagrammatic at all. :)
Click on any name to check out its popularity graph…
Most of the names above have a clear number of syllables, but a few do not. (I categorized them according to my own interpretation/accent.) So, if you’re interested in using any of these pairings, just remember to test the names out loud first!
Akeem Olajuwon emigrated from Nigeria to play basketball at the University of Houston from 1980 to 1984. He then played professional basketball from 1984 to 2002 — half of that time as Akeem, the other half of that time as Hakeem. (He changed the spelling of his first name in 1991.)
How did Olajuwon’s successful career affect the popularity of the baby names Akeem, Hakeem and Olajuwon? Let’s check it out…
*These are the two years Olajuwon led the Houston Rockets to NBA championships.
So, why did Olajuwon change the spelling of his first name?
“It’s no big deal,” Olajuwon says. “I just want to go back to using the original spelling, the way it is meant to be spelled in Arabic.”
According to Olajuwon, “Hakeem,” in Arabic, means “a wise man; a doctor.”
But “Akeem,” which is the way it’s been spelled since he arrived in the United States in 1981, has no translation.
What does Olajuwon’s surname mean? According to NBA.com, Olajuwon means “always being on top.” In every Yoruba name that starts with Ola- that I’ve come across, though, Ola- means “wealth.” So I don’t know about that NBA definition. (I also don’t know what -juwon might mean.)
Finally, did you notice how the usage of Akeem and Hakeem jumped from 1988 to 1989, but the usage of Olajuwon stayed the same? The main inspiration here was Hakim of R&B group The Boys, which had a few hit singles out around this time. In fact, the names of all four of The Boys — Khiry, Hakim, Tajh & Bilal — got a boost in 1989.
Update, 9/5/2021: I think Jamie’s theory about the name Akeem getting a boost in 1989 from the 1988 movie Coming to America — in which comedian Eddie Murphy plays lead character Prince Akeem Joffer of the (fictional) African nation Zamunda — makes perfect sense! Off to add it to the timeline…