What better way to describe players with tremendous or meager size, extraordinary or subpar athleticism, and a propensity to be in the spotlight than to hand them a nickname and make it stick throughout their careers and the rest of their life?
For years commentators, columnists, fans, and experts have provided some interesting, exciting, hilarious, and sometimes dirty nicknames for players of every sport. Here are 25 of those nicknames, with video evidence. Does the nickname suit the athlete? You be the judge!
I hope this article makes Chris Berman proud...
We start the countdown in old-school fashion.
The Dutch mother of two participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics and won four gold medals at the age of 30.
Charles is no stranger to the comical spotlight, so when this nickname surfaced, it obvious stuck. Barkley had a stellar professional basketball career and continues to be a force on the celebrity sports scene.
Perhaps the most simplistic nickname on the countdown, the baseball legend's nickname simply described the way he would hit the ball hard and appear to spring or "jolt" out of the box, as if excited for every base hit.
The tenacious legend of the ice has been credited with the invention of the slapshot, which made a sound so loud it can only be described as a "boom."
The 6'10" lefty had a 100-mph plus fastball in the prime of his career and carried the nickname given to him by long-time voice of the Seattle Mariners, Dave Niehaus.
Given his nickname, people not familiar with this player may think he's a jazz musician or mobster. He was, in fact, a guard for the New Jersey Nets and got his nickname for his heavy eyelids and how they make him look like he's dozing off when he's wide awake.
One of the most creative nicknames on the countdown, "The Owl Without A Vowel" is used to describe Mlkvy's last name, which obviously doesn't contain a vowel. Bill played college ball for the Temple Owls, and well, you can figure out the rest.
The nickname was given to Roberts as a child when he would ask for a "bip" more instead of a "bit" more. Roberts used the nickname in his professional career to honor his mother.
Like Roberts, Wilson was given his nickname as a child. His parents still tell the story of how Willie would ask for more "mookie" instead of milk.
The self-marketing genius slogan of Rod Smart made him an overnight sensation. However, Vince McMahon would realize you can't fake football the way you can fake wrestling (WWF), and the XFL dissolved after just two seasons.
The former University of Alabama head football coach won six national titles and 13 conference championships during his tenure. He received his moniker for his deep voice and strong yet quiet demeanor.
Kordell Stewart was a college football machine, known for his ability to play quarterback and split out wide as a receiver, giving him the nickname "Slash" as in QB/WR.
A man "blessed" with huge feet that resembled a satchel or suitcase, Leroy Paige carried his alternate identity whether he liked it or not. Maybe being in the Hall of Fame overshadows a goofy nickname just a bit.
Malone became so automatic in clutch situations, he garnered the name "The Mailman" because he always delivered.
The hefty but lovable first baseman was a vital piece for several Baltimore Orioles teams and his nickname is an endearing term, perhaps given to him by teammates and coaches.
Pete Maravich got his nickname in high school from the way he would start his shot from the hip. He would go on to be one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball history and split time with three NBA teams in his professional career.
Rest assured, the historical baseball player wasn't too poor to afford shoes. The nickname describes how fast Joe Jackson was. So fast, in fact, it seemed like he was on the verge of running out of his shoes.
While doing the research on why someone would name their child "Eldrick," it was discovered that the nickname "Tiger" was given to him by his father. Turns out the nickname is a motivational tool to remind Eldrick to fight for his dreams and accomplishments.
Wayne Gretzky is one of the fist names that surfaces when discussing the best players in the history of the NHL. Trying to find someone to dispute that concept would be extremely difficult. Gretzky's nickname, "The Great One," will forever be used to introduce him before handing him the microphone.
For Simpson, the decision to be known as "O.J." rather than "Orenthal James" seems like an easy one. However, the acronym is also highly used to shorten "orange juice" (Creepy: The Blue Shield commercial I just watched on TV used it three times just now).
Erving was able to cut down the court and through defenders so well, he earned the nickname "Dr. J." To this day it is difficult to find a highlight reel of the star without hearing those words.
The Hall of Fame outfielder got his nickname from the way he would shout at players or people he wouldn't know by saying, "Say hey there." The nickname has become ingrained in sports history, and seems to somehow fit perfectly.
No nickname better describes a player's ability to jump than "Air" describes Michael Jordan's acrobatic prowess. Beyond just the game, the nickname would become synonymous with Jordan, and is still used to describe him today.
Is a description really needed to figure out where this nickname originated? The 6'2", 320-pound mass of a human being was often used as a running back for the Chicago Bears. Can you imagine how tough it would be to create a hole in the defensive line for this guy? Yikes!
Defensive backs still shudder at the mention of his name.
Of course Babe Ruth is tops on this list. You simply can't top a player nickname of a player who's remembered by a nickname instead of his first name. Got it?
There are so many nicknames to choose from for Ruth, and all of them could be considered number one. George Herman "Babe" Ruth is still considered perhaps the best hitter to ever play the game.
With nicknames like "The Sultan of Swat," "The Colossus of Clout" and "The Great Bambino," (Thank you, "The Sandlot", for the assist) Ruth hits the top of the charts in the baseball history books, and this slideshow.