10 Players We Want to See Wear NBA Nickname Jerseys

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 14, 2014

10 Players We Want to See Wear NBA Nickname Jerseys

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    The Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets have graced us with nickname jerseys, but that's not enough. 

    I want more. 

    There's no telling whether or not the NBA has generated enough revenue from this adventure to justify expanding it to all 30 teams, but let's pretend that it has. If every squad in the Association was able to throw nicknames on the back of its jerseys, which ones would you be most excited to go out and buy? 

    Now, there are a couple of things worth going over before we proceed: 

    1. The Nets and Heat are not eligible, otherwise "King James," "AK-47," "The Truth," "The Big Ticket," "Birdman" and "Jesus Shuttlesworth" would certainly draw consideration. Hmm...maybe that's why the NBA chose these two teams. 
    2. Generic name-based monikers aren't going to make it. Sorry to "Iggy," "KD," "CP3" (even though there's a decent story behind it), "J-Rich" and all the others in a similar vein. 
    3. Unfortunately, we have to think about copyright restrictions, as that's what prevented Shane Battier from wearing "Batman" on his jersey. Unfortunately, that means that "Superman" and "The Matrix" are out of the equation. 
    4. The nickname must also be widely known. While it's great that Joe Johnson can be referred to as "Armadillo Cowboy," that's not something that most people are aware of. 

    Don't worry, because there are still plenty of great monikers to choose from. 

    I'd encourage you to remember that this is a subjective article, and the following 10 slides showcase my opinion and only my opinion. We're bound to disagree on some, so please leave your own personal favorites in the comment section.


Giannis Antetokounmpo: "The Greek Freak"

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    Giannis Antetokounmpo may be just a raw rookie trying to stick in the rotation of the Milwaukee Bucks, who happen to have the worst record in the NBA, but he already owns one of the Association's best nicknames. 

    "The Greek Freak" may sound derogatory, but the 19-year-old small forward has seemed completely fine with the moniker throughout his first go-round in the States. Before taking on the Atlanta Hawks on March 13, he stopped by the NBA TV studios and completed a goofy interview with The Starters. When the nickname was brought up, he didn't have anything negative to say whatsoever. 

    Calling Antetokounmpo a freak is actually a positive here, as it's simply pointing out his insane physical tools—his ever-growing frame that's definitely taller than 6'9" now, his ridiculously large hands, his lanky arms and his jaw-dropping athleticism above all else. 

    Concerned about the nickname's length and its ability to fit on a jersey? Don't be. 

    If we can fit Antetokounmpo on the back of a uniform, we can fit "The Greek Freak." After all, the latter is only two characters longer, and we can always drop the article if necessary. 

Chauncey Billups: "Mr. Big Shot"

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    Time is running short on this one. 

    Chauncey Billups has played in only 19 games during his latest stint with the Detroit Pistons, and there's a solid possibility that his NBA career could be over at the end of the season. He has a team option on his contract for next year, but the 37-year-old guard is still trying to recover from knee surgery while pondering retirement. 

    "If the knee is fine, then sure, absolutely, I would like to come back," the veteran told MLive's David Mayo while discussing his left meniscus tear. "If it's not, I don't want to come back and do this.  It's tough to do this, especially on a team when we're not a winning team at this stage."

    Here's hoping he comes back, if for no other reason than getting to wear a jersey that reads "Mr. Big Shot." 

    Even if his numbers as a crunch-time player weren't that spectacular throughout his career, the handful of memorable buckets he made during his first go-round in Detroit still earned him the special moniker. 

Kobe Bryant: "Black Mamba"

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    Kobe Bryant might end up wanting to go with "Vino" on the back of his jersey, but the first nickname he gave himself is the obvious choice. At least from a popularity standpoint. 

    At this point, the two-word phrase "black mamba" might be more well known throughout the United States as Kobe's nickname than a type of snake. It's become completely ubiquitous, to the point that the adjective can be dropped completely, granting Bryant a one-word nickname. 

    Why? Because it's absolutely perfect. 

    Not only is it a catchy name, but it represents his style of play perfectly. The quick-strike ability and venomous nature of his offensive game are captured in the nickname, and it's been used so often that we can't help but associate it with No. 24. 

Vince Carter: "Vinsanity"

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    Vince Carter is a hoarder of nicknames. 

    Earlier in his career, "Air Canada" rose to the front of the list, as Carter was putting up insane numbers, winning dunk contests and going on postseason scoring rampages for the Toronto Raptors. But while that will always glisten in the annals of NBA history, it no longer works. 

    Carter doesn't play for the Raptors anymore, and he didn't exactly leave on the best of terms. Without that connection or another Canadian team in the Association that he could play for, that nickname on the back of his jersey would just leave people scratching their heads. 

    "Half Man, Half Amazing" is still relevant. However, Carter's declining and sporadic athleticism would probably make "Three-Quarters Man, One-Quarter Amazing" a more appropriate nickname. 

    Both of those are far too long. But fortunately, Carter has given us a third option. 

    "Vinsanity" it is. 

Glen Davis: "Big Baby"

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    As Michael Hurley wrote for NESN, uncertainty rules the day when thinking about the origin of the "Big Baby" nickname, which has stuck with Glen Davis from his LSU days to the ranks of the NBA: 

    There have been many theories thrown about regarding the birth of Glen "Big Baby" Davis' nickname. There was the simple observation that he looked like a big baby. There are Internet sites saying he gained a reputation of a whiny player, and there are stories of his inability to prevent himself from crying.

    But as Hurley points out, none of those are true; Davis was a 14-pound baby, so this is just a literal nickname that's taken on new meaning throughout his career. 

    Now Davis did tell ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg that he was dropping the "Big Baby" moniker in favor of "Uno Uno," his jersey number with the Boston Celtics in Spanish, but that hasn't exactly stuck. He's not even wearing No. 11 anymore. 

    It is literally impossible to watch Davis play and fail to hear an announcer call him by the nickname he once tried to drop. Of course, this has caused problems for some of them. 

    While veteran announcer Bob Fitzgerald may have had some difficulty remembering the exact form of the nickname, we certainly won't when it's embroidered across Davis' back. 

Tim Duncan: "Big Fundamental"

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    There are many reasons that Tim Duncan will retire as the greatest power forward to ever step foot on an NBA court. 

    His size, mentality, drive, situation and longevity all have played a large part in his success. But so too has the technical excellence that earned him "The Big Fundamental" as his nickname. 

    Duncan may as well be a walking textbook of basketball. 

    Defensive players can watch him for lessons on how not to bite for fakes. They can learn positioning and the proper times to play help defense. Hell, they can even figure out that it's more beneficial to keep a block in bounds than to swat it into oblivion, as only the latter truly ends a possession. 

    Meanwhile, offensive players can learn all about footwork, use of the backboard when shooting jumpers from the side of the court and plenty more. 

    Duncan simply does it all. 

    He may have been somewhat of a boring personality throughout his NBA career, but he still has one of the league's best nicknames. 

Kenneth Faried: "Manimal"

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    When you go to the Pepsi Center and watch the Denver Nuggets attempt to take advantage of the altitude by exhausting their opponents in the first three quarters, you're likely to see a whole bunch of different jerseys. But a few jump out due to sheer volume: 

    It's hard to tell because there are so many different variations of each one, but Faried may actually hold down the No. 1 spot. He's that popular in Denver, and the city loves nothing more than screaming in joy whenever he throws down a dunk and allows the Pepsi Center to be filled with the imaginary shrieking of a Manimal. 

    No nickname could be more perfect for this undersized power forward. He plays basketball with an animal's instincts, constantly hustling and doing everything in his power to play above the rim whenever possible. 

    If Denver residents could buy a "Manimal" jersey, there would be a new No. 1 on the list of most-popular threads. 

Marcin Gortat: "Polish Hammer"

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    "After one of the summer leagues I was the leading shot-blocker," Marcin Gortat told Sarah Kogod of the Washington Post back in December. "And one of the fans actually posted the nickname on the Internet on a blog—'The Polish Hammer.'"

    He also revealed that he prefers a different nickname:

    The Polish Machine actually is coming straight from Germany. I came up with that before Polish Hammer, and the reason why is just because I work hard every day. I turned from soccer to basketball when I was 18 and a lot of people told me that I’m going to miss a lot of simple things—basketball details—and I have to work hard every day to learn that. So, I was full of energy and one of the Serbian coaches that used to coach me, he told me, 'You’re running like a machine.' I said, 'Polish Machine.'

    Well, I'm sorry to disappoint Gortat, but "Polish Hammer" is definitely a lot catchier than "Polish Machine." While the latter conjures up images of a personality-free big man, the other reminds us that the center is a powerful shot-blocker and tremendous finisher when he rolls to the basket. 

    Fortunately, it seems as though he's a fan of both nicknames. 

    So am I. 

Kyrie Irving: "Uncle Drew"

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    If you haven't seen all of Kyrie Irving's "Uncle Drew" commercials, please remedy that immediately. 

    Here's a link to the first one in the series, but you should follow the appropriate links from there and see what happens when—SPOILER ALERT—Kevin Love, Nate Robinson and Maya Moore come into the equation. Also, if you haven't witnessed this greatness yet, what have you been doing with your Internet connection? 

    It's pretty clear that Irving accepts the "Uncle Drew" nickname. 

    How could he not? It's a fantastic one, thanks to its uniqueness and prominence in a popular set of advertisements. 

    However, this jersey would only work under one condition. Irving would have to dress up like an old man and teach those youngbloods not to reach for the ball as he's juking them out of their shoes. 

    Perhaps the NBA would allow a one-day exception to the ultra-strict dress code. 

Nick Young: "Swaggy P"

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    "Swaggy P" is the most perfect nickname imaginable for Nick Young. 

    Between his unique hairstyle, flashy fashion sense and highlight-seeking style of play, everything he does is filled with swag, even if that's a concept that outlived its welcome well before the present day. 

    The "Swaggy" makes sense. But what about the "P"?

    Well, here's an excerpt from a recent article by SlamOnline.com's Alex Shultz

    "I still don’t know what the P is for," Jordan Hill says. "But he’s been having that name for a minute, so I don’t think he’s ready to change it."

    Young will only say that "Swaggy" became his moniker as a result of his friends, who showered him with compliments about his indelible swag. Naturally, he adapted it to become "Swaggy," which was more becoming of his lifestyle. As for the P? 

    "The P is a mystery. I can’t give that secret out yet," Young says. “It was one of my first nicknames, so nobody really knew about it and I just kept it a secret. People kept asking about it, so I started saying it’s a mystery. In a couple years I’ll give y’all something.”

    Honestly, does it matter what it is? 

    So long as we can see it plastered across the back of a purple-and-gold uniform, not really.