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Zabian Dowdell and Muck City

Oh boy oh boy oh boy. If this is a preview of what we'll get when our dirty half-dozen college basketball bloggers take over this space starting any day now, it's gonna be good. Adam Kilgore, Official Beat Writer for both Local No. 3 Virginia Tech and Local No. 4 Virginia, volunteered the following item, which is, in blogging parlance, great. Since she doesn't like public pressure, I'm gonna go ahead and tell Official Georgetown Beat writer Camille Powell that this is gonna be a tough act to follow. Adam writes:

If you watch Virginia Tech basketball games, you may have noticed the gaudy basketball shoes Zabian Dowdell started wearing against Duke. They're just like the other Hokies' shoes, but his have an orange strap - not black, like the others - that has black lettering stitched into into it.

On the side, the lettering says, "ZAY", which clearly is his nickname (and I always thought they were calling him, "ZABE"). On the tongue across the top, it says, "MUCK CITY." I assumed this was nickname for Pahokee, the small town in Florida where Dowdell proudly hails from. But I wasn't sure, and Zabian is a fun guy to talk with, so I asked him yesterday what Muck City meant.

Zabian Dowdell: That's the nickname for Pahokee.

AK: I'm surprised Pahokee is big enough for a nickname.

ZD: Oh, yeah, they kind of call Pahokee, Belle Glade, Clewistown, they kind of call all that Muck City. [You'll see in the Google map there's even a Muck City Road there).

AK: Because of the swamp?

ZD: Nah, they grow a lot of sugarcane there. The soil is real rich. So they call it Muck City (laughs).

AK: Oh, OK. Did you ever work in the sugarcane fields or anything growing up?

ZD: No, but a lot of my friends would chase rabbits and do stuff like that when we were young.

AK: Wait. Chase rabbitts?

ZD: They burn the 'cane. And when they burn the 'cane, the rabbits start running all over the place. They would chase them down and hit them with a stick. Then they would clean them up and sell them, you know, for a couple dollars. That's a quick way to make some money when you're young.

[So this could explain Dowdell's fast dribbling and smarts on the court: He grew up playing with boys who possessed not only the quickness and dexterity to chase down a rabbit and then kill it with a stick, but also the entrepreneurial genius to use those skills to make money for candy and soda (which in turn drove up demand for sugar, which caused more fields to burn and rabbits to scatter, and the cycle continued).]

Anyway, when Dowdell described the process, I kind of became speechless. Another reporter pointed out the irony (even though it's coincidental, not ironic) that Dowdell is now a Hokie and he grew up in Pahokee (which is pronounced Pah-Hokie). Dowdell started laughing again and said people started calling him "The Hokie From Pahokee" when he first came to Blacksburg.

"It took me a while to get used to it," Dowdell said. "But I just took it and ran with it. I think it's a good thing."

Me, too. So my question is, what happened? How come the Cassell Coliseum P.A. man isn't calling out Zabian "The Hokie From Pahokee" Dowdell? Great nicknames are shamefully few are far between these days in sports. Why not have a small-town player from Muck City change that?

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 28, 2007; 3:03 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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