It's a sad fact that no one named Nick has ever played for the New York Knicks: Not Nick Van Exel, not Nick Anderson, not Nick Collison. Yes, Jeff Nix served as a longtime coach and member of the Knicks' front office, but the following list of Top Nicks excludes Knicks -- and excludes surnames, which is why Jack Nicklaus isn't on it.
19. Nick Foles
The Eagles quarterback is a Philadelphia folk hero -- but don't mistake him for Nick Folk, the Jets' kicker. Foles (not Folk) made the cover of this week's SI after taking over for Michael Vick.
18. Nikolai Volkoff
As the tag-team partner of the Iron Sheik, Volkoff helped cover all the Cold War bases as a professional wrestling villain, singing the Soviet anthem before matches, lest anyone miss the point. In real life, he lives in Baltimore.
17. Nick Hornby
The novelist's beautiful memoir, Fever Pitch, recounted his life through the Arsenal games he attended. Hornby gets the soccer nod over former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt.
16 (tie). Nic Cage, Nick Nolte
Tough call between the IRS-bedeviled actor who shouts in movies and the three-time Oscar-nominated actor whose most famous on-camera appearance somehow remains that mugshot in that Hawaiian shirt.
14 (tie). Nikki Sixx, Nicki Minaj, Niki Lauda
Sixx is the Mötley Crüe bassist who co-founded the band that has one more umlaut than the No. 8 guy on this list. Minaj is the rapper whose feud with Mariah Carey (Mrs. Nick Cannon) caused President Obama to hope out loud that "both outstanding artists are going to ... make sure that they're moving forward and not going backwards." Auto racer Lauda is a three-time world champion of Formula 1 who was nearly killed in 1976 when his Ferrari burst into flames on the Nurburgring in Germany. The three of them round out our Nikki/Nicki/Niki minaj a trios.
11. Nick (The Greek) Dandolos
Often described as the World's Greatest Gambler, Nick the Greek's epic, five-month poker game against Johnny Moss at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas in 1949 gave birth to the World Series of Poker.
10. Nick Bouniconti
Yes, he's a Hall-of-Fame linebacker, member of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins and star of classic Miller Lite commercials, but Buoniconti has a much greater legacy than all that. His son Marc's spinal cord injury, suffered while playing for The Citadel in 1985, led to the Bouniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars.
9. Nick Offerman
The actor is best known for playing Parks and Recreation stalwart Ron Swanson, who seemed to speak for most Nicks on this list when he said: "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
8. Nicklas Lidström
He won four Stanley Cups in 20 seasons with the Red Wings, during which time his play and behavior and all-around impeccability earned him the understated nickname "The Perfect Human." On March 6, his number 5 will ascend to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena and -- who knows? -- perhaps The Perfect Human will too. Few would put it past him. (Disclaimer: Nicklas Lidström is not to be confused with the Washington Capitals' Nicklas Bäckström.)
7. Nick Jr.
Expanded cable home of Dora The Explorer, The Backyardigans and the irrepressible Peppa Pig, Nick Jr. is likely familiar to anyone with children under 6, like me, who never saw a second of Breaking Bad but has seen every episode of The Octonauts four times.
6. Nick Faldo
Faldo is a three-time winner of both The Masters and the British Open, the most major victories of any European who didn't invent the golf grip (that being Harry Vardon of Vardon grip fame). He is also the second-highest-ranking Englishman on this list, like his fellow knighted Sir Nicholas, the estimable ...
5. Nearly Headless Nick
The late Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, played in the films by John Cleese, is still doffing his head to incoming wizards at Hogwarts many centuries after his gruesome demise.
4. Nick Saban
As a coach who won four national championships and --even more impressive -- four SEC titles, Saban might have been higher on the list had Nearly Heedless Nick not insisted on attempting that field goal in the Iron Bowl.
3. Nikola Tesla
This Serbian-American genius invented alternating current, which allows your house and all its manifold appliances to be electrified. As such, he is the true father of the modern age who also dabbled in such useful inventions as X-rays, radio, lasers and that which makes all of sports fandom possible: The remote control. How could anyone be ranked above him, you ask? Well ...
2. Nicolaus Copernicus
Without the insight of this astronomer and mathematician, the sun is still revolving around us, rather than we around it, a fact that is now plainly evident to our number one Nick as he streaks across the night sky ...
1. St. Nick
The sun might not travel around the Earth, but he does -- so take that, Copernicus. And all of Tesla's coursing electricity is for naught if this guy doesn't arrive bearing an Xbox and a 60-inch flat-screen.
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