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The 25 Athletes with the Most Nicknames

Zack PumerantzAnalyst IIINovember 7, 2012

The 25 Athletes with the Most Nicknames

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    An athlete's quest for greatness goes far beyond the playing field. His legacy will forever be defined by the people he's influenced and the reputation he's earned.

    Out of respect to those influential individuals, fans and pundits have continuously churned up batches of creative nicknames throughout history to highlight admired or despised qualities.

    From Ted "The Splendid Splinter" Williams to Elvis "Toast" Patterson, nicknames have always been part of sports. They've defined careers and detailed one's true popularity.

    While many athletes have earned one heart-warming nickname, only a lucky few have inherited a countless amount, and the resulting opportunity to rotate on demand. And to those embraced individuals, bravo for the sportsmanship.

    Let's see which 25 athletes earned the most nicknames. And hopefully adjusted their birth certificates accordingly.

25. Muhammad Ali, Boxing

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    Number of Names: Three

    Cream of the Crop: The Louisville Lip, The Greatest, The People's Champion

    To many, "The Greatest" defined greatness in every facet of life. He could float, sting, shuffle. It didn't matter what route he took; Ali was an impenetrable force in that ring.

    Few have even come close.

24. Vladimir Guerrero, MLB

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    Number of Names: Four

    Cream of the Crop: Super Vlad, Vlad the Impaler, Big Daddy Vladdy, Big Bad Vlad

    During his prime, former MVP Vladimir Guerrero could hit pitches purposely tossed into opposing dugouts. Heck, he was often more of a superstar cricketer than a baseball slugger.

    The legendary talent earned his fair share of intimidating nicknames, few of which truly detailed his actual prowess. But his 473-foot shot in 2007 off Zack Greinke might.

23. Joe Montana, NFL

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    Number of Names: Four

    Cream of the Crop: Joe Cool, The Comeback Kid, Golden Joe

    Considered by many the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Joe Montana was as cool, calm and collected as they come in the heat of the moment. He thrived under pressure and led some of the most historic drives the football world never imagined possible.

    While he may have had thin legs, thus the fourth nickname, "Bird Legs," Montana had the thickest of hearts.

22. Wilt Chamberlain, NBA

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    Number of Names: Four

    Cream of the Crop: The Big Dipper, Wilt The Stilt, Goliath

    Striding the court like a 7'1" giraffe, center Wilt Chamberlain was a new breed of legendary when he hit the professional hardwood in 1959.

    Rumor has it he never embraced names related to his height. However, The Big Dipper, supposedly in reference to his need to duck while going through doorways, was a favorite.

    "Mr. 100" was the fourth, simply paying homage to his statistical dominance.

21. Earl Monroe, NBA

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    Number of Names: Four

    Cream of the Crop: Earl the Pearl, Black Magic, Black Jesus, Thomas Edison

    That's right, all of his names were epic. In reference to his on-court pizazz and tendency to reinvent the crossover, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe earned quite the array of endearing monikers.

    Thomas Edison, coined during Monroe's tenure at John Bartram High School, referenced his propensity for inventing new moves. A cutting-edge creation.

20. Shaun White, Boarding

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    Number of Names: Four

    Cream of the Crop: The Animal (Muppet-inspired of course), The Flying Tomato

    Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White is a rare breed of soaring tomato, whether he's tired of the name or not. The rosy-cheeked snow-skateboarder is beloved by extreme-sport fans and revered by hot-weathered athletes for his ability to survive the harshest conditions.

    Of all his nicknames, he has to be thanking the snow gods that "Big Wendy" didn't catch on.

19. Blake Griffin, NBA

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    Number of Names: Four+ (new ones every day)

    Cream of the Crop: High Griffinition, Carrot Hops, The Jambulance

    The Red Head Redemption and "Fastbreak" Griffin have also stirred up excitement regarding the new Clippers sensation. The Oklahoma product has the intense and mysterious persona to embrace any such name.

    Honestly, Blake "The Griffin" Griffin would probably sum up his legend just as crisply.

18. Shane Victorino, MLB

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    Number of Names: Five

    Cream of the Crop: The Flyin' Hawaiian, The Maui Wowie, The Pineapple Express

    A scrappy spark plug on the Phillies' championship club of 2008, speedster Shane Victorino was last seen patrolling the Los Angeles outfields at Dodger Stadium, a shell of his former self.

    But the crafty outfielder will always be remembered for his speed and heritage, both ingredients in creating the perfect names. The list goes on, as does Victorino, once dubbed The Energizer Bunny.

17. Andy Moog, NHL

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    Number of Names: Five

    Cream of the Crop: Peaches, Squeaky, Dennis The Menace

    A three-time champion goalie with the Edmonton Oilers during the '80s, Andy Moog was 5'6" of pure inspiration. The 170-pound netminder is now a goaltending coach for the Stars, naturally sharing his wisdom and resiliency with the new crop.

16. Jerry West, NBA

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    Number of Names: Five

    Cream of the Crop: Zeke from Cabin Creek, The Logo, Mr. Clutch

    Also dubbed "Mr. Outside" and "Mr. Inside" because the court was his canvas and he was a thriving artist, Jerry West first earned his Zeke-related nickname due to small-town West Virginia roots.

    Years later, Jerry West is still permanently carved into the game of basketball.

15. LeBron James, NBA

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    Number of Names: Five+ (just ask Skip Bayless, who adds "Le" to the front of any word he pleases)

    Cream of the Crop: The Akron Hammer, The L-Train, The Chosen One, LeDecision

    Our love for the title "King James" is like a bear trap; only one that's been left out so long that it's rusted shut. Especially considering CBS reported that James refers to himself as the King in texts.

    Queen James won't do either. But Delonte West Jr. just might.

14. Vince Carter, NBA

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    Number of Names: Five+ (how many insanity puns can be drawn up?)

    Cream of the Crop: Vinsanity, Air Canada, Half Man Half Amazing

    Before Jeremy Lin came along, there was a gravity-defying youngster by the name of Vince Carter who performed superhuman, thought-to-be-impossible moves with a basketball in his hands.

    His talent was so far beyond the routine that we almost believed the 1971 film Get Carter was written in his honor, even though he wasn't born until 1977 and the movie had nothing to do with basketball. He was just that good.

13. Martin Brodeur, NHL

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    Number of Names: Six

    Cream of the Crop: The Door, Satan's Wallpaper, Devilish Stopper

    Also dubbed Brickwall, The Man and Brody, record-breaking goalie Martin Brodeur has been protecting the New Jersey crease since the early '90s, along the way leading his Devils to three championships.

    His best nickname, Uncle Daddy, wasn't even in reference to his dominating play. But rather, the extramarital affair he was allegedly having with his wife's brother's wife. Family first.

12. Joel Przybilla, NBA

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    Number of Names: Six

    Cream of the Crop: Ghostface Przybilla, Vanilla Gorilla, Joel Dolla-Dolla-Billa, White Kong

    A 7'1" tree with more nicknames than points per game (4.0 career average), Joel Przybilla is a force to be reckoned with; if mostly in the Name Hall of Fame.

    The Wu-Tang Clan references are as classy as nicknames come. And hip-hop just saved a basketball career.

11. Carles Puyol, Soccer

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    Number of Names: Six+ (it never ends...)

    Cream of the Crop: Lionheart, Tarzan, Superman

    One of the best defenders in the world, FC Barcelona captain Carles Puyol is respected most for his relentless motor and undeniable grit. With a hairstyle that is slammed on the other side of the Mr. Clean spectrum, Puyol continues to roar his way toward fashion-and-athletic greatness.

10. Ben Zobrist, MLB

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    Number of Names: Seven

    Cream of the Crop: Zorilla, Zobi Wan Kanobe

    Joe Maddon's versatile switch-hitter also goes by the names Zo, Zobe, Ben-zee, Z-man and Zobo. But while Zorilla may be the second baseman's craftiest nickname, it's also the stinkiest.

    The Zorilla, also referred to as the striped polecat, is a nocturnal carnivore that resides in sub-Saharan Africa, emitting the worst smell known to man following any hint of danger. In other words, Ben Zobrist.

9. Jerry Rice, NFL

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    Number of Names: Seven

    Cream of the Crop: The man with the hands, The San Francisco Treat, Flash 80

    Better known as G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time), Jerry Rice remains the finest receiver ever to grace a professional football field.

    With a respected work ethic and a lion's heart, Rice gracefully set countless receiving records and cemented himself as perhaps the greatest football player of all time.

    His final nickname, World, best defines his legacy.

8. Sachin Tendulkar, Cricket

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    Number of Names: Seven+

    Cream of the Crop: The Master Blaster, The God of Cricket, Bradman of Modern Era

    Known colloquially as the best batsman in history not named Donald Bradman, Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar naturally earned his fair share of monikers during a historic career. Ranging from the Grandpa of Indian Team to The Little Master, his names continue to endure the test of time.

    Even the crickets are applauding this selection.

7. Charles Townsend, Bicycle Motorcross

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    Number of Names: Eight 

    Cream of the Crop: Steam Engine Charlie, Black Magic, Chasemanian Devil

    Old-school BMX rider Charles Townsend, who thrived between 1985 and 1996, remains an influential force in the sports realm with the melting pot of crafty, railroad-related nicknames he earned as an amateur.

    The Fleein' Korean and Choo-Choo Charlie are two others we couldn't dare to ignore.

6. Peter Crouch, Soccer

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    Number of Names: Eight

    Cream of the Crop: Crouchinho, El Esparagus, Two Metre Peter, RoboCrouch, Bean Pole

    Like a 6'7" crane fly, English footballer Peter Crouch is slender, long-legged and a threat to lawns worldwide. Although this particular species can do a masterful robot dance.

    Thus another nickname, Mr. Roboto.

5. Jared Lorenzen, NFL

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    Number of Names: Nine

    Cream of the Crop: QBese, Hefty Lefty, The Pillsbury Throwboy, The Abominable Throwman, Round Mound of Touchdown, Battleship Lorenzen, He Ate Me

    In only three NFL seasons, Kentucky Fried Lorenzen accomplished more than most starting quarterbacks can hope to achieve in a lifetime. While successfully warming the Giants bench, Lorenzen won a championship and added to his lengthy list of humbling nicknames.

    The 285-pound southpaw was all heart. Here's proof.

4. Charles Barkley, NBA

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    Number of Names: 10

    Cream of the Crop: The Round Mound of Rebound, Leaning Tower of Pizza, Pillsbury Dough Boy, The Crisco Kid

    Despite having the swiftness of a 6'6" roll of dough, Sir Charles dominated the hardwood during his brilliant career. The shortest player ever to lead the league in rebounding, Barkley out-muscled and out-positioned his opponents, routinely.

    As a result, Chuck earned every hefty nickname one could possibly script. With his recent ads flooding televisions around the nation, "The Weight Watcher" might be the most fitting.

3. Ruud van Nistelrooy, Soccer

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    Number of Names: 11

    Cream of the Crop: Van the Man, Ruud Boy, The Flying Dutchman

    The Ruud Devil is a fitting one as well for the retired Dutch footballer, who remains the second-highest goal scorer in Champions League history with 60 since retiring this past May.

    He's been revered for his accomplishments, on 11 occasions.

2. Babe Ruth, MLB

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    Number of Names: 15

    Cream of the Crop: The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, The Wazir of Wham, The Mammoth of Maul

    Known as the Babe to fans, and Jidge to teammates, George Herman Ruth was simply the holiest presence ever to step foot inside a batter's box.

    With beer and hot dogs his only fuel, The Bambino became a legend with his ability to dominate as a hitter and a pitcher. He set a bar that doesn't seem close to being touched.

1. Shaquille O'Neal, NBA

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    Number of nicknames: 15+ officially (possibly up to 26)

    Cream of the crop: The Big Shaqtus, The Diesel, Shaq Fu, Wilt Chamberneezy, The Big Baryshnikov

    Shaquille O'Neal was far more than just another physically dominating presence inside the professional paint. He was an actor, a comedian, a philanthropist, a questionable rapper, a cop, a mixed martial artist. And along the way, he gained a new moniker for every chapter.

    After calling it quits in 2011, Shaq properly added the nickname "Big AARP" to his repertoire. A fitting end to a beloved career.

     

    For more career-defining nicknames, follow me on twitter.

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