Reign Man aka Shawn Kemp

Starting off with one of the GOAT dunkers the game has ever seen. We’re not sure if reign and rain are synonymous, but in the case of Seattle’s stereotypical weather conditions and their posterizing power forward we’ll make an exception.


Chocolate Thunder aka Darryl Dawkins

RIP, big dog! You and your backboard shattering dunks are missed!


Black Mamba aka Kobe Bryant

Being the deadliest creature that slithers the face of this earth, it’s only right to give the deadliest creature to ever play the game of basketball the same name. Jellybean’s youngin’ did alright for himself, especially when having such a respected nickname turned brand, fully equipped with snake skin sneakers.


The Human Highlight Reel aka Dominique Wilkins

Anyone who has ever seen highlight tapes of ‘Nique on YouTube knows that this nickname is pretty self-explanatory. This guy very well may be the best in-game dunker along with Vince Carter and Shawn Kemp.

Dominique Wilkins 1


Grandmama aka Larry Johnson

In what many would consider one of the most memorable 90s TV-commercials featuring an NBA star, Larry Johnson got his Tyler Perry on for Converse. Not sure if he cashed out like Madea, but at least he had a decent secondary income with the Hornets.



Mad Max aka Vernon Maxwell

I mean, he was tossin’ TV monitors across the court and collecting technical fouls like no one’s business. Vern was a lot more than just mad though…one of those things being NBA champion.

Vernon Maxwell 1


White Chocolate aka Jason Williams

Aside the fact that dude was incapable of throwing a regular chest pass, buddy could flat out play ball.


The Dream aka Hakeem Olajuwon

Some of you young whippasnappas probably don’t even know where the term “Dream Shake” came from. Well, look no further, because this smooth shimmy incorporated into a deadly fall away jumper was amongst the most unsptoppable feats on a big man since before Dirk’s time.

Hakeem Olajuwon 2


The Jet aka Kenny Anderson

The crazy thing is, “The Jet” is shared by another Kenny…Kenny Smith, who conincidently is from the same housing projects in Queens, NY. LeFrak City, what’s good?!


Diesel aka Shaquille O’Neal

If we were to make a list and ranked it “Best to Worst” or “Worst to Best” or “Most Ridiculous to Most Logical” or anything else you can come up with, Shaq probably would be #1 on all them joints! I mean, how do you have more nicknames than seasons as an active player? Big Aristotle? Big Cactus? What does Shaq go by these days anyway?

Shaquille O'neal 1


The Chief aka Robert Parish

“The Chief” was named after the fictitious Chief Bromden, a silent, giant Native American character in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. According to Parish, former Celtics forward Cedric Maxwell gave him this nickname because of his stoic nature. Yea, I did my research. I better had done it…I always thought it was because he was the C’s captain.

Robert Parrish 1


Larry Legend aka Larry Bird

One word: Legend.


Magic aka Earvin Johnson

Every once in a while you get a player that blossoms into a certain persona with the naming of their nick. That is especially true for Magic Johnson, who definitely lived up to his name and more during his time with LA.


AK-47 aka Andrej Kirilenko

The greatest Russian import since the fully automatic rifle.



Thunder Dan aka Dan Majerle

I remember Thunder Dan for being a sniper-esque shooter. But a leeper?! People say that he got his nickname from his “thunderous” dunks…I don’t believe it. I need footage!


Durantula aka Kevin Durant

Limbs long and skinny like the legs of a spider. Durant + tarantula = Durantula



Sir Charles aka Charles Barkely

Now, I do remember the “I’m not a role model” campaign from Chuck. I also remember Chuck’s manners, or lack thereof, that got him the ironic nickname “Sir”. Maybe it wasn’t so much a lack of manners on his part, but moreso a lack of understanding on mine/ours. Either way, we do whole-heartedly appreciate some of his footwear that Nike came up with during his hay-day.


Dr. J aka Julius Erving

No special court-related reference here. “Dr. J” was a childhood nickname that stuck with Erving to this day.


Agent Zero aka Gilbert Arenas

There was a time in the early 2000s when Gilbert Arenas was practically swishing every buzzer-beating shot for the win that he took…at least it seemed that way. It must have seemed that way to Adidas as well, who on the strength of his play tossed him a crazy endorsement deal and the moniker “Agent 0”.


The Glove aka Gary Payton

One of the premier defenders whose style of defense was sticking to his assignment like a glove would a hand. Even GP’s shoes had “gloves”!


The Dunking Dutchman aka Rick Smits

He’s dutch and he dunked a lot. Not as much as he shot those elbow jumpers though. What up, Pat Ewing?!



Big Baby aka Glen Davis

Just look at him.


Psycho T aka Tyler Hansbrough

If you’ve seen Tyler in action then you know the term “short fuse” is a bit of an understatement. He’s probably one step below Hulk Smash mode, so the general consensus agreed on Psycho T.


The Matrix aka Shawn Marion

If your memory serves you as well as mine does, then you will remember the movie The Matrix and how Neo dodged those bullets Agent Zero Smith sent his way on some crazy athletic madness. You’ll also remember the freak of nature talent and above human athletic capabilities that Shawn Marion/Neo had. So let’s do some word association: Dodging Bullets -> Neo -> Matrix -> Shawn Marion!


Skip To My Lou aka Rafer Alston

Tested in all fires of streetball, overseas pro leagues and the NBA. The homie had handles that made his defenders his puppet, hence “Skip To My Lou”.


The Worm aka Dennis Rodman

Worms are something that make people feel uneasy. Dennis definitely made you feel that if he was defending you. He also definitely made you feel that way even when he wasn’t defending you.

Dennis Rodman


The Franchise aka Steve Francis

The former Terp had such a bright future, unlimited potential and superstar qualities that any GM would have loved to build their franchise around him. Francis/Franchise — some names are just a match made in heaven.


The Truth aka Paul Pierce

Say what you want about P-Double, this old man still will bust anyone’s ass on the offensive end. Just don’t make him defend Joe Johnson. Yikes!


The Big Ticket aka Kevin Garnett

KG was another franchise player thought to lead a small-market team to the promised land. Too bad The Kid punched his ticket with Boston instead of Minnesota.


Charles Oakley

This guy was like a fortress. An immovable object that parked in the middle of the lane that was definitely gonna hurt if you crashed into it. Just ask MJ!



Birdman aka Chris Andersen

Who knows where he got his nickname from. But he’s the one player who has taken his alter-ego a tad bit too serious when he had wings tattooed on his arms to help him transform into the “Birdman”.


Big Shot Bob aka Robert Horry

Just drive to the cup, make the D collapse and kick it out to Robert Horry. He’ll drain that shot guaranteed! Which is what earned him the nickname “Big Shot Bob”, not to be confused with…

Robert Horry 1


Mr. Bigshot aka Chauncey Billups

…who has also had his fair share of game winning buckets. Nowhere close to as many as RH, but I do remember a ‘chip being won over the heavily favored Lakers, Horry’s old club.

Chauncey Billups 2


Pistol Pete aka Pete Maravich

Shooting from your hip as if you were drawing a revolver from its holster is what will get you the nickname “Pistol”. I wonder if “Pistol Pete” from Soundview projects used a revolver as well.


Jesus Shuttlesworth aka Ray Allen

I’m not sure if Ray ever had a nickname that people were calling him before Spike Lee’s movie He Got Game debuted. Since Ray was cast in the role of Jesus Shuttlesworth, we’ve kinda all stuck with calling Ray, Jesus. And appearantly so has he…



King James aka LeBron James

Speaking of Jesus Shuttlesworth. If you remember the movie then you gotta acknowledge that LeBron is Jesus Reincarnate. (See what I did there?!)

Swaggy P aka Nick Young

Ahh, yes! Who needs wins, division titles and championships when one has S-W-A-G?!


The Pearl aka Earl Monroe

Due to his on-court success and flashy style-of-play, Monroe was given the nickname Earl “The Pearl”.


The Big Fundamental aka Tim Duncan

Just like the name indicates, flashy dunks and in-your-face styles of play are not part of TDs repertoire. Let’s face it, he’s boring…BUT effective! Like 5 championships type of effective!

Tim Duncan 1


The Glide aka Clyde Drexler

In a time when ball players used to get their nicknames off their dunks (we mentioned Darryl Dawkins earlier in this post), “Clyde the Glide” did just that. He used to glide right over that head of yours and onto the weekly Top 10 Facials list in the process. What up, Zeke?!

Clyde Drexler 1


The Iceman aka George Gervin

Wooh, that boy was cold as ice! Meanest finger roll you’ve ever seen!


Big Ben aka Ben Wallace

All I remember was that Gong sound (because of London’s Big Ben clock tower) everytime he wiped opposing players lay-up attempts off the backboard…and a rumor of him curling 400lbs barbells. Works for me!

benwallace 4.12


The Admiral aka David Robinson

It probably doesn’t get any more obvious than this. A fun fact that isn’t so obvious: Robinson came in a freshmen at NAVY standing 6’8″ and grew over 7″ by the time he was drafted.


The General aka Avery Johnson

Kind of a play on words nicknames with his front court running mate D-Rob. Avery took on the name “General” due to his natural position of PG and as the Spurs floor general.

Avery Johnson 1


The Mailman aka Karl Malone

Like clock work, you could always rely on the Mailman to deliver his package. (Is this pause worthy?)


The Answer aka Allen Iverson

AI was that dude. There couldn’t have been any other player crossing MJ up and been celebrated for it other than him. The original leader of the new school. He was everything we idolized and more. He was “The Answer”.



His Airness aka Michael Jordan

This is one of those carefully thought out marketing concepts cooked up in a conference room filled with 20 smart guys. Nike already had their “Air” thing going…MJ just happened to show up and take it…make it his own, and establish the Swoosh as the most popular sports apparel line in the process.


The Manimal aka Kenneth Faried

His game can pretty much be summed up by the phrase “Man Amongst Boys”, hence the nickname “Manimal”.


Muggsy aka Tyrone Bogues

Man, we used to have some charismatic guys in the league. Maybe I’m getting a little nostalgic, but it almost seems like there aren’t as many “lovable” characters playing anymore. Anyway, “Muggsy” had to be on the list of everyone’s favorites during the 90s.


The King aka Bernard King

Oh, yes. The league definitely had a king before LeBron took to his thrown.


White Mamba aka Brian Scalabrine

Now, before you go off and ask me how dare I even mention “The White Mamba” with all these greats I do want you to remember the Scallenge. You don’t? Let me fill you in. Brian Scalabrine had it up to his neck with people calling him the worst player to ever make it to the league. And so he decided to host a 1-on-1 challenge and play anyone who thought they could beat him. “The White Mamba” MURDERED EVERYONE making him the second deadliest thing to slither on the face of this earth!

Brian Scalabrine 1

8 comments on “THE NBA’S BEST NICKNAMES”

  1.' Kenneth Greene Reply

    Connie Hawkins(The Hawk)
    Dick Van Arsdale(The flying Dutchman)
    “Rocket” Rod Foster
    Walter Davis (Sweet D)
    Walt (Clyde) Frazier
    Wilt The Stilt Chamberlin

  2.' Tyrone Reply

    Fantastic list, some of these names were flat out funny (The Worm for Dennis Rodman just seems so random) and others were pretty cool (King James and The Black Mamba are easily two of the best nicknames in basketball.) Was there any story behind how Muggsy got his nickname?

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