100 Greatest Nicknames in NBA History
During Shaquille O'Neal's hilarious press conference in which he officially announced his retirement, a man of many nicknames gave us his latest moniker: "The Big AARP (Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons)."
The league has seen plenty of great nicknames over the years. It's seen plenty of bad ones, too (i.e. King James).
This list won't have any unearned or uncreative (D-Rose) sobriquets, epithets or aliases. Only the best for you—the 50 best...
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100: Zach "Z-Bo" Randolph
Z-Bo and the Grizzlies are on the rise. If everyone stays healthy, they could definitely win a first-round series next year.
99: Joe "Cool" Johnson
Joe "Cool" is the man in Atlanta. Next year, they could use a little less cool and a little more edge out of their best player.
98: Cuttino "Cat" Mobley
He played with cat-like quickness and he kind of looks like the professional wrestler of the same name.
97: Sam "I Am" Cassell
Sam Cassell catches a lot of flak for supposedly looking like an alien, but I could see him in a Dr. Seuss book, too.
96: "Dollar" Bill Bradley
This future politician was a pretty good basketballer too.
95: Dwyane "Flash" Wade
Wade said he didn't want to be called "Flash" anymore, but his reason is stupid and we shouldn't honor it.
94: Marvin "Bad News" Barnes
Marvin Barnes dominated the ABA, but struggled in the NBA. The nickname transcends any basketball struggles.
93: Ray "Jesus Shuttlesworth" Allen
It's not technically a nickname, just a character the man portrayed.
92: Harold "Happy" Hairston
Happy Hairston more than held his own playing alongside scores of Lakers legends.
91: Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson
This seems like one of those nicknames that a lot of people would have. Robinson may be the "Big Dog."
90: John "Hondo" Havlicek
Not really sure of the meaning behind "Hondo," but it sure sounds cool. Can anyone enlighten me?
89: Steve "Hair Canada" Nash
He's from Canada and his hair is a big deal from time to time.
88: Ron "TruWarrior" Artest
The Finals just aren't the same without Ron Ron.
87: Billy "Kangaroo Kid" Cunningham
I don't think the comparison to a Kangaroo is drawn because of a pouch.
86: Ronald "Popeye" Jones
It should be pretty obvious why they called this guy Popeye.
85: Dikembe "Mt." Mutombo
Trying to shoot it over him was indeed like trying to shoot over a mountain.
84: Billy "The Whopper" Paultz
Maybe he ate a bunch of 'em?
83: Walter "Fabio" Herrman
I seriously used to dominate with Herrman on one of those NBA 2K games.
82: Jamaal "Silk" Wilkes
His silky smooth game helped him win titles for two different teams.
81: Chris "Caveman" Kaman
Chris Kaman really needs to bring those locks back.
80: "Jumpin" Joe Caldwell
Jumpin' Joe took his skills from the NBA to the ABA and tore it up in both leagues.
79: Kobe "Black Mamba" Bryant
Frankly, I think it's one of the corniest nicknames we've ever seen. This name would be perfect for a member of White Goodman's Purple Cobras.
78: Nate "Tiny" Archibald
Some players' nicknames were so good that they really replaced their real first names. That's the case with Tiny Archibald.
77: Corliss "Big Nasty" Williamson
I actually don't have much to say about the nickname. What is that ref doing?
76: Darrell "Dr. Dunkenstein" Griffith
Darrel Griffith was a Louisville legend and great NBA player who earned his moniker for obvious reasons.
75: Vitaly "The Ukraine Train" Potapenko
The Ukrainian Michael Jordan.
74: Chet "The Jet" Walker
The original "Jet."
73: "Captain" Kirk Hinrich
I don't know if he's ever been the captain of an NBA team, but this nickname was inevitable either way.
72: Moses "Chairman of the Boards" Malone
This aptly-nicknamed big man led the league in rebounding six times.
71: Mark "Mad Dog" Madsen
If "Mad Dog" was still in the lead, there's no way we'd be headed for a lockout.
70: Michael "B-Easy" Beasley
This name really seems to fit Beasley's smooth game and hip-hop style.
69: Chauncey "Mr. Big Shot" Billups
Chauncey has hit tons of big shots in his career, and plenty of them led to a title in '04.
68: Leonard "Truck" Robinson
While he probably wouldn't be considered a truck by today's standards, he could run people over back in the day.
67: Toni "Pink Panther" Kukoc
One of Michael Jordan's more underrated running mates.
66: Matt "The Red Rocket" Bonner
He led the league in three-point percentage last year with very ugly form. He launches the ball from his shoulder (get it?).
65: Caron "Tough Juice" Butler
The Dallas Mavericks could really use some "Tough Juice" right now.
64: Austin "The Crusher" Croshere
Look at "The Crusher" take flight. I guess Bogans has always been dirty.
63: Baron "Boom Dizzle" Davis
Once upon a time, Baron Davis was really explosive and "Boom Dizzle" sounds cool after a dunk.
62: Manu "Obi-Wan" Ginobili
If people used this nickname more, Manu would really annoy me less.
61: Kris "Humpty-Hump" Humphries
My sister and my wife don't think they look good together. I, for one, just find them adorable.
60: Stephen "Action" Jackson
This dude's action helps him get off a lot of shots.
59: Sarunas "Jazzy Cabbages" Jasikevicius
He didn't spend much time in the NBA, but with a nickname and a given name like that, I couldn't keep him off the list.
58: Rashard "Sweet Lew" Lewis
He's faded a little bit over the last couple years, but there was a time when his game was about as sweet as anyone's. He has the contract to prove it.
57: Shawn "The Matrix" Marion
I love Marion, but his jump shot could only go in if some sort of alternate existence was involved.
56: Adam "Ammo" Morrison
I don't think anyone gave him a good enough chance to fire off that ammo.
55: Brian "The Custodian" Cardinal
The Mavs need someone to get down and dirty right now. Put "The Custodian" on duty.
54: Luke "Frodo" Ridnour
I'm pretty sure he could've played the part more convincingly than Elijah Wood (that's a dis on Wood, not Ridnour).
53: Josh "J-Smoove" Smith
His game is pretty smooth. So much so that the nicknaming powers that be replaced the "th" with a "ve."
52: Gerald "Crash" Wallace
I don't know if his nickname has anything to do with this video-game character, but it should.
51: Brent "Bones" Barry
Most underrated player of all time.
50: Chris "Birdman" Andersen
The nickname itself is pretty cool. The way Andersen flaunts it is not.
49: Fred "The Mayor" Hoiberg
Fred Hoiberg earned his nickname when he was playing for Iowa State University. In 1993, he earned some write-in votes for the town of Ames, Iowa's mayoral race.
Plus, he just looks like a politician (even when he played).
48: Walt "Clyde" Frazier
"Clyde" Frazier embodied cool back in the '70s when he led the Knicks to two titles.
47: Vince "Vinsanity" Carter
Carter has had a few nicknames in his career. He's been known as "Half-Man, Half-Amazing" and "Air Canada," but "Vinsanity" is his best.
46: Jason "White Chocolate" Williams
There aren't many nicknames that seem to fit the player quite as well as Jason Williams' "White Chocolate."
45: Paul "The Truth" Pierce
Paul Pierce's ridiculous acting in the 2008 NBA Finals was the furthest thing from "The Truth," but plenty of people still dig this moniker.
44: "Thunder" Dan Majerle
Storm clouds always seemed to be looming when "Thunder" Dan played. The man could make it rain.
43: Gary "The Glove" Payton
Gary Payton earned his nickname because of his strong defense. He could cover his opponents like a "Glove."
42: Kenny "The Jet" Smith
This one really doesn't need much explanation, right?
41: Gilbert "Agent Zero" Arenas
A lot of people say that Arenas' nickname is representative of his enigmatic nature. To me, it's more about the fact that he wore the number for so long.
40: Isiah "Zeke" Thomas
During his playing days, Isiah Thomas was known simply as "Zeke." During his playing days, he was known for his game.
Now he's known for more dubious reasons.
39: Dennis "The Worm" Rodman
This is another one that just fits. Some say his mother called him "The Worm" because he wiggled when he played pinball.
It stuck with him as an NBA player because he had no problem getting dirty.
38: Robert "Tractor" Traylor
It was always a wise move to get out of the way of the "Tractor," who was 6'8" and nearly 300 pounds when he played in the NBA.
37: "Downtown" Freddie Brown
Freddie Brown led the league in three-point percentage during the three-point line's first year in existence.
His nickname led to us hearing Marv Albert say, "From downtown," over and over again.
36: Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway
The Lil' Penny commercials were some of Nike's best.
35: Kevin "The Big Ticket" Garnett
Kevin Garnett was, without a doubt, the biggest reason people bought tickets to T'Wolves games for years.
34: Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson
Pretty self-explanatory—the guy could heat up quickly.
However, I'm not sure it made a ton of sense, as Johnson averaged 12 points a game for his career while shooting 25 percent from three-point range.
33: Sam "Big Smooth" Perkins
Sam Perkins was a big man who never moved with great speed or quickness, but he sure was smooth.
32: Rodney "Hot Rod" Hundley
Hot Rod Hundley never put up great numbers in the NBA, but when your real first name is almost entirely replaced by "Hot Rod," that's pretty cool.
31: Robert "Big Shot Bob" Horry
Most people say it's "Big Shot Rob," but Bob is short for Robert as well, and my version just rolls off the tongue so much better.
30: George "Mr. Basketball" Mikan
George "Mr. Basketball" Mikan was one of the game's first superstars and had first dibs on this catch-all nickname.
29: Jerry "The Logo" West
It has to be pretty cool to see a silhouette of yourself attached to everything the NBA is attached to.
28: Andrei "AK-47" Kirilenko
I'm typically not a big fan of the modern nickname trend that just puts initials and numbers together, but this one works on another level.
An AK-47 is a famous Russian rifle and Andrei Kirilenko is a famous Russian basketball player who wears No. 47...get it?
27: Artis "The A-Train" Gilmore
Artis "The A-Train" Gilmore utterly dominated the ABA for years before the league merged with the NBA.
26: Allen "The Answer" Iverson
Iverson came into the league surrounded by a ton of hype.
He played as hard as anyone I've ever seen, but his me-first attitude never proved to be a good "Answer" for any of the teams he played for.
25: Michael "Air" Jordan
Early in his career, Michael Jordan took flight in ways that fans hadn't really seen before.
It wasn't long before he rounded out his game and became the greatest of all time.
24: "Big Game" James Worthy
There are plenty of solid rhyming nicknames coming up between now and No. 1.
23: Oscar "The Big O" Robertson
One of the greatest all-around players of all time, "The Big O" did it all.
22: Lloyd "World" B. Free
World B. Free sounds more like the name of a Harlem Globetrotter than an NBA player.
But alas, World B. was in the league and was one of its best scorers back then.
21: Dominique "Human Highlight Reel" Wilkins
This one doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it is pretty cool and fits well.
20: Charles "The Round Mound of Rebound" Barkley
I could have gone with the more commonly used "Sir Charles" on this one, but "Round Mound of Rebound?" Come on.
19: Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain
Another rhyming nickname—and this one was inevitable.
18: Clyde "The Glide" Drexler
Drexler's smooth game and athleticism naturally led to the rhyming moniker, "Clyde the Glide."
17: Rafer "Skip 2 My Lou" Alston
Rafer Alston earned his nickname where they're generally more clever than the ones we typically see in the NBA.
"Skip 2 My Lou" was a playground legend before he was an NBA regular.
16: Anthony "Spud" Webb
Spud Webb (who was just 5'6") proved he wasn't small potatoes when he won the NBA dunk contest.
15: Earl "The Pearl" Monroe
Earl Monroe was an elite scorer for his entire NBA career. He was a rare find.
You know—like a pearl.
14: David "Skywalker" Thompson
A lot of nicknames are in reference to a player's athleticism or jumping ability, and this one may be the best.
What basketball player wouldn't like to be known as "Skywalker?"
13: Larry "Legend" Bird
Anyone with a Sports Illustrated photo like this one was bound to be legendary in more ways than one.
12: Robert "The Chief" Parish
Parish's teammate Cedric Maxwell dubbed him "The Chief" because of striking similarities between the Boston center and the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest character.
11: Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon's nickname extended beyond just identifying the player. He even had a move called "The Dream Shake."
10: David "The Admiral" Robinson
Robinson never reached the rank of Admiral in the United States Navy, but he was known as such in the NBA because he was indeed an officer prior to his professional basketball career.
9: Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues
Tyrone Bogues is the best 5'9"-and-under player the NBA has ever seen, and "Muggsy" seems pretty fitting for a 5'3" guy.
8: Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins
Darryl Dawkins was a backboard-breaking beast when he played in the '70s and '80s.
7: George "The Iceman" Gervin
George Gervin was about as cold blooded a scorer as the league has ever seen. He was a four-time NBA scoring champion.
6: Karl "The Mailman" Malone
"The Mailman" always delivered over 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz.
5: Shaquille "The Diesel" O'Neal
Shaquille O'Neal probably could have been on this list several times, but I wanted to save room for others so I just picked my favorite.
"Superman," "The Big Cactus," "The Big Aristotle" and all the others are nice, but "Diesel" fits him best.
4: Earvin "Magic" Johnson
Magic's nickname was so perfect that it replaced his actual first name.
3: Julius "Dr. J" Erving
Julius Erving was a serious pioneer for the NBA. If he hadn't operated the way he did, the game may not have evolved into one that allowed the style Michael Jordan brought.
2: "Pistol" Pete Maravich
"Pistol" Pete's nickname was so good that it was on the back of his jersey.
Maravich earned his nickname before he ever entered the NBA when he averaged 44.2 points per game over his three-year college career at LSU.
His unique style didn't work quite as well in the NBA when he no longer averaged 40 shots a game, but it still worked.
He won the league's scoring title in 1977, went to five All-Star games and was chosen to be a part of the league's 50 Best Players of All Time in 1996.
1: Bryant "Big Country" Reeves
Deal with it.
Coming Soon to an Arena Near You: James "Jimmer" Fredette
If you're one of the haters out there, you're probably sick of hearing the nickname "Jimmer." Well, you better get over it, because it's not going away.