Opinion

alex beam

Too many homonymous names to know

Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (left) was named after legendary Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas.
USA Today Sports (left); Reuters
Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (left) was named after legendary Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas.

A week or so ago I was listening to sports talk radio when Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas came on the air. Even though I haven’t watched a sports event since the Super Bowl — I’m too busy lighting votive candles in front of my Malcolm Butler icon — I knew from the newspaper that Thomas had become one of the Celts’ best players, and that the team was on a bit of a roll.

Naturally it was his name that interested me, and he discussed it at some length. Apparently his dad lost a bet on a Lakers-Piston series, and named his son after the Pistons legendary point guard Isiah Thomas as a result. His mother insisted on the Old Testament spelling, so the Celtics player is Isaiah, not Isiah, Thomas.

Of course fans have homed in on his name, occasionally yelling, “Your dad was a terrible coach!” It’s true, Isiah Thomas was a terrible coach (187-223 in his NBA career), especially for the New York Knicks. New York fans sometimes boo our Isaiah Thomas, just on principle.

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The two Thomases know each other. Isiah approached college hoopster Isaiah at a University of Washington basketball game, and the two men remain in touch. Surely there is a DirectTV ad in these men’s futures: “I’m Hall of Fame basketball player Isiah Thomas.” “And I’m Isaiah Thomas, shipwrecked on the desert island that is the 2015 Boston Celtics.”

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Did I mention the Super Bowl? Remember the Seahawks’ superb wide receiver Chris Matthews, who came so close to beating the Patriots single-handedly? (Memo to self: fresh candles for the Butler shrine.) I remember hearing that Matthews got irked when he Googled his name, because of course MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews always surfaced first.

That Chris Matthews graciously tweeted his namesake on Super Bowl Sunday:

Enough about them. How great was it that Pedro Martinez came within a hair’s breadth of running the Boston schools? He’d know how to handle recalcitrant underlings: with a little chin music, 92 miles per hour, high and inside. Oh, wait. Martinez the educator is an accountant from Chicago, by way of Nevada. These names are so confusing.

Really, why aren’t they minting more of them? The Globe’s talented restaurant critic, Devra First, has a culinary doppelganger, Devra Ferst, associate editor at the Eater NY website. Two men named John Adams have won the Pulitzer Prize for music. Yes, there are two Alaric Nightingales working for Bloomberg in London. I plan to name all my grandchildren “Alaric.”

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There are one too many writers named Geoff Dyer, the China-watcher for the Financial Times and the ping-pong playing author of “Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It”

AP (left); Reuters
Meet South Korean actress Kim Jung-Eun (left) and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Last December, one of the world’s great nations struck a blow against irksome homonymity. In North Korea, by dictatorial fiat, there can be only one Kim Jong Un, the beloved maximal leader. In South Korea, there are still several thousand Kim Jong Uns, most of them women, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps you recall that the Malcolm Butler of the World Series was San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who entered Game Seven on two days’ rest and shut down the luckless Kansas City Royals. Sports Illustrated revealed that Bumgarner, who hails from rural North Carolina, once dated a girl named Madison Bumgarner. (“No relation, I’m sure of it.”)

I am Facebook friends with an attractive young woman named Alex Beam, but, well, I won’t even go there. No relation, I’m sure of it.

Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. He can be reached at alexbeam@hotmail.com.

Related:

Alex Beam: Trapped in a Golden State, away from Boston’s snow

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