What’s in a nickname?

I was reading a synopsis of the history of Gus Macker’s tournament last week on Macker’s official website. Tournament founder Scott McNeal put together a 3-on-3 hoops tournament in his family’s driveway in 1974, as the website states, and it has continued to grow over the past 35 years. McNeal, who stands not much taller than me (I am 5-foot-7 at the correct angle under the sun) is nicknamed “Gus Macker,” and the tournament is named for his nickname.

I started to think, how does a person named Scott McNeal earn the label Gus Macker? I get the “Mac” portion of Macker, but what about the rest? Gus? Is there some secret decoding or anagram here? Let’s just chalk up McNeal’s alter ego as some inside information.

Other nicknames are natural, albeit trite fits. Ever met a person named Smith who wasn’t called “Smitty?” Know any Jones’ affectionately called “Jonesy?”

I like the use of a hyphen as it creates a nickname out of an abbreviation. J-LO, A-Rod, K-Fed, K-Rod, and P-Diddy come to mind. Wait, I must correct myself, I’m not exactly sure what Sean Combs is calling himself these days, and I’m not 100 percent sure if he even has a hyphen.

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