During the third game of his NBA career, I watched Christian Eyenga score his 24th career point and become the Cavaliers’ 249th all-time leading scorer. At the time, I didn’t think he needed a nickname. I thought he deserved one.
So I nicknamed him Skyenga.
Dave Wooley, the greatest sports statistician in the history of the internet, continued chronicling Skyenga’s rise through the Cavaliers’ record books.
What once started as the Christian Eyenga Points Tracker series on the day he scored his first points en-route to becoming the Cavs 284th all-time leading scorer, soon became known across the NBA universe as The Skyenga Series.
On January 11th, we headlined the story of his epic 8-point effort with the emphatic, yet understated, all capital letters title of SKYENGA.
From there, the word of not only this new nickname for Christian Eyenga began to be spread, but notice had also begun to be served of the emerging legend that is Skyenga.
Earlier today Skyenga confirmed on his verified twitter page that he does indeed like the nickname of Skyenga. That was good to hear.
I appreciated that, and also appreciated the many people who helped spread the word on both the nickname and the series since its inception.
In the early days, I could count on a link to The Skyenga Series of posts from my good friends and blogging partners over at Waiting For Next Year as surely as I could assume Skyenga would pass another Cavaliers legend on any given night. WFNY was a pivotal part of the Skyenga movement.
In the twittersphere, the significant traction for the name Skyenga was immediate.
I tip my hat to @CavsWitness for having a big hand in that. Eric likes the Skyenga nickname, and told the over ten thousand people who follow him about it just about every time we posted the latest update.
Scott Sargent was also a impact player in the twitter world for his efforts in spreading the Skyenga handle as well, along with countless others. I apologize for not naming everyone. Both Dave and I, but more importantly Skyenga himself, sincerely appreciate it though.
As word continued to spread, so too did Skyenga’s game continue to elevate. It wasn’t long after did both the nickname and series soon go national.
I credit Kelly Dwyer for taking both from coast to coast on the day he referenced Skyenga’s then recent achievement of surpassing Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner on the Cavs all-time scorers list. A mark Skyenga passed in 41 games less than it took Baby Jordan too, I might I add.
The nickname of Skyenga was then on its way to becoming what it is today, a household name.
None of this would be possible without the string of high caliber perfofmances put together by the budding superstar rookie from the Congo though.
If Skyenga doesn’t go for 15 points in his ninth NBA game as a Cavalier to give him a total of 69, good for 216th place all time, and surpass the 61 Baby Jordan amassed throughout his 19 game illustrious Cavaliers career, then there is no story. There is no series. There is no Skyenga.
But he did do just that, and he didn’t stop there. Not by a long shot.
Skyenga then proceeded to break into the top-200 list of Cavaliers all timers when he blew past ex-Cav Jay Guidinger on February 2nd against the Pacers. It was at that time that I knew something more had to be done.
On a trip to watch the Buckeyes play Penn State one weekend, Dave Wooley and I plotted our next move over a game of beer pong. Our hope was that NBA Fans everywhere would soon learn the growing legend that is Skyenga.
But before we continued our effort in popularizing the name, we needed to make sure he liked it. There was only one thing left to do then, we decided.
That interview came not so coincidentally just prior to the first win in Skyenga’s then 18 game NBA career too by the way.
During the course of our discussion, after I asked him about the Skyenga nickname he said he “heard about that but didn’t know what it means.”
I then explained the reference to his ability to get off the ground and attack the rim through the air, and he replied by saying of the nickname, ”I would prefer it if you called me that, then.”
So it continued, because Skyenga said so.
Amidst the celebration of this promising young career over recent days, Cavaliers’ fans and NBA commenters alike joined in with references of the phenomenon that is Skyenga.
Then on Wednesday, the NBA universe was put on notice by Skyenga himself.
In true Skyenga fashion, he leaped off the floor, the length of no less than three semi trucks away from the basket, and pounded an electrifying slam on the head of a seven foot NBA All Star by the name of Pau Gasol. Reigning NBA champ, Pau Gasol.
After the game, while the masses of media entered the locker room, I caught up with the unassuming future star as he exited quickly and quietly down the hallway. He had just finished effectively defending Kobe Bryant, scoring 10 points, and providing the fuel for an upset win for the ages over the Lakers.
He wan’t looking for the limelight though. He wasn’t looking for praise. Skyenga is a humble man, and he was just minding his own business.
The limelight, or should I say more accurately my flip-cam, found him though.
I asked Skyenga if he felt like he could dunk like that on anybody in the NBA. He said yes, and next time he would try to do the same thing.
Which all goes directly to the point of why I nicknamed him Skyenga in the first place.
He’s humble, yet confident. A natural athletic freak, yet coachable. Way cooler than a guy like me, yet nice enough to offer me a high five handshake on the way out yesterday and say “good to see you again man” in a way that seemed like he actually meant that.
I like all that about Skyenga. I like that he’s a member of the Cavaliers.
And I like that he made it official on Thursday for not only the 4,051 people that currently follow him on twitter but also the world that he likes the nickname Skyenga too.
via twitter - @christianeyenga8: I like it. Skeyenga
When I read that, I simply thought that I was glad we here at Stepien Rules could help.
We made up, and effectively nicknamed an NBA player who has said he both “likes” and “prefers” to be referred to by that nickname.
Next time I see him I’ll just have to help him with the spelling though. Only one ‘e’ in Skyenga, Skyenga.
Keep doing your thing though number 8, and long live Skyenga!