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How Donte DiVincenzo became ‘The Michael Jordan of Delaware’

Explaining all of the Warriors’ new guard’s many nicknames, especially the one which contends he’s the G.O.A.T. of the Blue Hen State

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Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors
Yes, that’s Donte DiVincenzo, not prime Michael Jordan, but we understand the confusion.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

New Golden State Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo attracts nicknames like Steph Curry attracts defenders as he runs around the three-point arc. According to Basketball Reference, he’s officially known as “The Big Ragu” and “White Chocolate.” Informally, he’s “White Donte,” and the prime subject of our discussion today, “The Michael Jordan of Delaware.”

“White Chocolate” is wasy, and also not his nickname! “White Chocolate” is Jason Williams, though it’s a tribute to DiVincenzo’s swagger and moves that he anyone would call him that as well. Still, let’s see Donte start throwing elbow passes before we start giving away Williams’ nickname.

While he was at Villanova, broadcaster Gus Johnson dubbed DiVincenzo “The Big Ragu” after he tipped in a Josh Hart miss at the buzzer to beat Virginia.

Why The Big Ragu? DiVincenzo speculated, “I assume it’s because I’m an Italian with red hair.” Still, it’s not what anyone calls Virtus Bologna star Nico Mannion, who will at best be The Little Ragu if he returns to the NBA.

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors
Not The Big Ragu.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

“White Donte” is what Bomani Jones started calling DiVincenzo while watching him tear it up in the NCAA Tournament championship game in 2018. Jones explained:

“DiVincenzo comes in the game and the first thing I notice is his name is Donte and Donte has an ‘O.’ That is not how it’s spelled by the author of the Inferno. Then I watched him play and that was definitely a visual aesthetic of basketball that we typically associate with black basketball players.

“Donte with an ‘O,’ we’ve got that dude with that game, then I watched the postgame celebration and watched him with the hat backward, cocked to the side and just the whole way he kicked it and I was like, ‘Oh, we haven’t had an NBA player that fits this aesthetic in quite a while and I find this to be highly entertaining.’ Then it turns out that he’s actually good.

“He killed it in that game, obviously, then he goes to the combine and puts up these ridiculous athletic numbers and then he comes to the league and it’s going well also. This is at once a fascinating piece of irony just as a device for communication, but also one thing I thoroughly enjoy about the NBA is the cultural exchange. It is always interesting to see people who kick it in ways that seem to be apparently ironic and this is one of those cases.”

Which brings us to the Michael Jordan of Delaware. Now, Delaware is not exactly New York City when it comes to a rich history of basketball talent. Walt Hazzard was on John Wooden’s first championship UCLA team in 1963-64, and won a gold medal in that summer’s Olympics. Charles “Tarzan” Cooper of Newark, Delaware is in the Hall of Fame. Twin brothers Joey and Stephen Graham made it to the NBA, and Emanual Davis of Delaware State University played six seasons. It’s criminal that Terence Stansbury of Wilmington isn’t on Wikipedia’s “List of people from Delaware. It’s like the editors have never seen his Statute of Liberty 360 dunk.

But it’s actually a sarcastic nickname. DiVincenzo’s college coach, Villanova’s Jay Wright, said it sarcastically when done wasn’t making enough effort in practice. Wright told a college journalist, “He said I said it to him facetiously in his freshman year when he was acting like a superstar. I said to him, ‘You act like you’re the Michael Jordan of Delaware.’”

Wright promptly forgot he was the one who first said it, and thought it was DiVincenzo’s actual nickname, from when he was winning two Delaware state titles. “I don’t remember saying that. … So, then I thought that the players started repeating it. I thought they called him that. So, I started saying it. That became his name,” Wright explained.

DiVincezo has an argument, but is he really the Michael Jordan of Delaware? He does have two high school titles, two college titles (plus a Most Outstanding Player award for the Final Four), and an NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks, but he’s still behind Elena Delle Donne. She’s won two WNBA MVP awards, one with the Chicago Sky in 2015, and one with the Washington Mystics in 2019, the same year they won the title. Delle Donne made six All-Star teams, won Rookie of the Year in 2013, and did it all while battling Lyme disease.

Other possibilities:

Joe Biden: Has reached the peak of his sport of politics by winning the presidential election, and proving he wasn’t simply a Scottie Pippen to Barack Obama’s Jordan. He also defeated local tough guy Corn Pop, the Bill Laimbeer of Wilmington, Delaware.

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemour: He founded the DuPont gunpowder company in 1802, which led to the long industrial dynasty of the ultra-rich du Pont family. He may have been the G.O.A.T. of black powder manufacturing. And what was Michael Jordan if not explosive?

Elisabeth Shue: She is at the very least the Michael Jordan of Babysitting Adventures.

Robert Ruliph Morgan Carpenter Jr.: Like Michael Jordan, Carpenter owned a professional sports team, the Philadelphia Phillies. And like Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets, they were nearly always terrible under his ownership. From the time his family bought the team in 1943 to when he stepped down as team president in 1972, they made the playoffs just once, in 1950, when they were swept in the World Series. Only once in those 30 years did the Phillies finish as high as second in the National League, or even their division.

Judge Reinhold: The Michael Jordan of Fred Savage body-switching films.

Ultimately, it’s Delle Donne, but DiVincenzo really does win a lot. Perhaps if the Warriors season goes as well as the team hopes, he can absolutely earn the moniker of another frequent champion. How does “The Steve Kerr of Delaware” sound?

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