Forget Cult Classic. This guy is just a straight up hero. (Photo Larry W. Smith-by Pool/Getty Images)
I had to break the rules a little bit for our NBA Cult Classics series here on SBNationNBA because I feel like we needed to have a throwback fan favorite as well as a more recent one. Call me sentimental, but I would have felt wrong not writing about Brian "The Custodian" Cardinal, even though several people suggested Ronald "Popeye" Jones. Now you all know that I readily admit to being new to the Mavericks culture, so while I've heard of Popeye Jones, I didn't know that much about him other than the fact that he has a sweet nickname. Cardinal, however, I have personal experience with and so I'm quite biased.
Things Jones and Cardinal have in common:
- They are both quite bald.
- They both reach 6 feet, 8 inches tall
- They both had stellar college careers (Jones at Murray State and Cardinal at Purdue)
- They both played on several different NBA Teams, each with a stint in Europe:
Follow the jump for more on these hairless wonders!
Fun Tidbits About Popeye
He once secured 28 rebounds (by himself!) in a game for the Mavericks
He served as an assistant coach for the Mavericks, but has since joined the coaching staff for the Nets
He got his nickname because his older brother was watching Popeye when his parents brought him home from the hospital. Yep.
Fun Tidbits about The Custodian
He is an active alumnus for the Boilermakers, and beloved by their fans even today
He is hysterical on twitter. You should tweet him.
He served as a towel boy when his daddy coached the Fighting Illini to the Final Four
He's not lacking heart. According to his Wikipedia page:
Brian left Purdue being the only Boilermaker to receive both the "Mr. Hustle" Award and the "Courage" Award four years in a row.
He supposedly received his nickname The Custodian/Janitor because of the way he cleaned up loose balls. But there are other theories out there, including one that came directly from the horse's mouth.
On a more personal note, I had the privilege of spending time in the locker room during the 2011 NBA Finals, and it was then that Brian Cardinal cemented himself in my heart as a cult-status hero. My friend and I were arguing whether Cardinal's official nickname was The Custodian or The Janitor. So to settle it we went to his locker where he was quietly reflecting before the game and asked him. His response nearly broke my heart. I'm paraphrasing:
"I don't have a preference- the fact that I even HAVE a nickname is enough for me."
Keep in mind, Cardinal's three pointer at the end of the Lakers sweep was the 20th that the Mavericks made from downtown that night. Hard not to love the guy, if you ask me.
Tell us in the comments why you feel these guys or perhaps some other Mavericks deserved our admiration despite not being superstars :)