Magic Johnson. Pistol Pete Maravich. David “The Admiral” Robinson. The NBA has a rich history of awesome player nicknames. In recent years I’ve felt like the league, and the public, has been slacking in the nickname department. Too often we fall into the A-Rod trap of simply using the first initial and the start of the last name. Or just using the initials and then the number. It lacks imagination. I kept feeling like there had to be more out there.

Finally, last week, when asked what I was going to write about and I had no ideas, I decided I had had enough. I went through all 450 player pages on and found my top three favorite nicknames on each team. I do not know where this site gets some of its information, but I am forever thankful. Move over, His Airness Michael Jordan, because there are some doozies. Most people know the obvious ones, like The Beard and The Brow for James Harden and Anthony Davis. I will instead be highlighting some of the more obscure nicknames in the NBA. 

Western Conference

Utah Jazz

  • Georges Niang – Minivan
  • Ersan Ilyasova – Turkish Thunder
  • Rudy Gobert – The Stifle Tower, The French Rejection

I know I literally just said I’d be highlighting the more obscure ones. A lot of fans know about Gobert’s French roots and these nicknames, I just love them so much.

Phoenix Suns

  • Mikal Bridges – Inspector GoGo Gadget, Praying Mantis
  • Jae Crowder – The Beast
  • Jalen Smith – Stix, Logs

For Bridges, they seem to have combined the character’s name and catchphrase? Smith was the skinniest person on his AAU team so he got the nickname Stix from his coach. He bulked up at Maryland and so they called him Logs. I’m down for that.

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Ivica Zubac – Zu Alcindor
  • Rajon Rondo – Johnny, The Yoga Instructor
  • Kawhi Leonard – The Claw

Zubac is nothing like Lew Alcindor, now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Like, nothing. As for Kawhi, he should have such a cooler nickname than this. Thanks, Liar Liar.

Denver Nuggets

  • Will Barton – The People’s Champ
  • Paul Millsap – The Anchorman
  • Monte Morris – The Count of Monte Assist/TO

Monte’s moniker is my pick for “Most Creative” in the league. Absolutely dynamic construction. 

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Wes Matthews – Iron Man
  • Andre Drummond – Big Penguin
  • Alex Caruso – Bald Mamba

Mamba count–1. This number will go up.

Portland Trail Blazers 

  • Derrick Jones Jr. – Airplane Mode Jones
  • Carmelo Anthony – Hoodie Melo
  • Jusef Nurkic – The Bosnian Beast

You might be catching on that if you are not from America, that will play a role in your nickname.

Dallas Mavericks (overall worst nicknames in the league)

  • Kristaps Porzingis – Unicorn
  • Dorian Finney-Smith – Doe-Doe
  • Luka Doncic – Luka Legend?

Luka has a long list of names I’ve never heard. Do we need a nickname for this man? He’s just Luka, but should there be an alternative?

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Kyle Anderson – Slo Mo
  • Tyus Jones – Tyus Stones
  • Jonas Valanciunas – Lithuanian Lightning

No, he’s not fast.

Golden State Warriors

  • Kelly Oubre Jr. – Tsunami Papi
  • Gary Payton II – The Mitten
  • James Wiseman – The Big Ticket

Payton is playing off his father’s nickname The Glove, while Wiseman needs to apologize for ever thinking he can take KG’s tag.

San Antonio Spurs

  • Gorgui Dieng – Senegalese Sniper
  • Rudy Gay – The Great Rudini
  • Patty Mills – Patty Cakes

So Dieng gets the foreigner treatment, but Patty Mills does not…

New Orleans Pelicans

  • James Johnson – Bloodsport
  • Brandon Ingram – Slenderman
  • Stephen Adams – Aquaman

Adams actually does look like Jason Mamoa.

Sacramento Kings

  • Harrison Barnes – Black Falcon
  • Hassan Whiteside – Count Blockula
  • Buddy Hield – Buddy Buckets

Honorable Mention, De’Aaron Fox – Swipa.

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Lou Dort – Fortress
  • Kenrich Williams – Kenny Hustle
  • Al Horford – Godfather

Is it a thing in the Godfather trilogy where a player gets sent home to chill just so the young players can get some run?

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Anthony Edwards – Ant-Man
  • Naz Reid – Big Jelly
  • Jake Layman – Sunshine

Great nickname for any white player thanks to Remember the Titans.

Houston Rockets

  • John Wall – Optimus Dime
  • David Nwaba – Mr. Dunk
  • Eric Gordon – Splash Gordon, Hobbit

Hobbit is just an incredible nickname. Hobbits are noble creatures.

Eastern Conference

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Mike Scott – The Threegional Manager
  • Danny Green – Icy Hot
  • Ben Simmons – The Wizard of Oz, Fresh Prince, Peacemaker

People do not often call Simmons any of these, but what a collection.

Brooklyn Nets

  • Joe Harris – Beef Jerky Joe
  • Landry Shamet – One a Day
  • Kevin Durant/Nic Claxton – The Slim Reaper

It’s hilarious that two people on the same team have the same tag. I wonder if they talk about it in the locker room or while strolling on the promenade?

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Kris Middleton – WD40
  • Pat Connaughton – Vanilla Thunder
  • PJ Tucker – PJ is a nickname!

It stands for Pops Junior!

Atlanta Hawks

  • Danillo Gallinari – The Rooster
  • Clint Capella – Swiss Bank
  • Kevin Heurter – Red Mamba

Mamba count–2. Also, wasn’t this Brian Skalabrine’s nickname as well?

New York Knicks

  • Frank Ntilikina – Frankie Smokes
  • Mitchell Robinson – The Block Ness Monster
  • RJ Barrett – Maple Mamba

Mamba count–3. He’s Canadian.

Boston Celtics

  • Robert Williams – Time Lord
  • Semi Ojeleye – Muscles Jesus, Ox, Thor, Man Made of Granite
  • Carson Edwards – Eddie House

I think it’s ridiculous that Carson’s nickname is listed as just the name of another Celtics role player from the past.

Miami Heat

  • Nemanja Bjelica – Professor Big Shots
  • Trevor Ariza – Switchblade
  • Bam Adebayo – Bam is a nickname.

Bam comes from the Flintstones character.

Charlotte Hornets

  • Cody Zeller – The Big Handsome
  • Malik Monk – God of Dunk
  • Terry Rozier – Scary Terry

I appreciate how Rozier has grown into this nickname. It’s been around for a while, but he is a real problem for teams now.

Indiana Pacers

  • Justin Holiday – The Fireman
  • Malcolm Brogdon – The President
  • JaKarr Sampson – Spongebob Sampson

He is such a big Spongebob fan that it’s his nickname. How big a fan does that mean he is? Is he wearing an adult Spongebob onesie on the road?

Chicago Bulls

  • Al-Farouq Aminu – Chief
  • Thad Young – Thadgic Johnson
  • Lauri Markkanen – The Finnisher

Thad’s is quite clunky. Markkanen is from Finland and so they portmanteau-ed the nationality and the skill.

Washington Wizards

  • Russell Westbrook – The Brodie
  • Brad Beal – Big Panda, Blue Magic
  • Jordan Bell – Swatterboy (Stay tuned.)

We should be calling Brad Beal Big Panda all the time. It’s great. Apparently, he eats a lot.

Toronto Raptors

  • Chris Boucher – Swatterboy
  • Pascal Siakam – Spicy P
  • Yuta Watanabe – The Chosen One

So Boucher and Bell both have the Swatterboy nickname. Do they know this? Do they have a feud about it?

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Matthew Dellavedova – Outback Jesus
  • Collin Sexton – Young Bull
  • Cedi Osman – Jedi

“This is not the role player you are looking for.”

Orlando Magic

  • Markelle Fulz – Quick Wash
  • Jonathan Isaac – Minister of Defense
  • Terrence Ross – The Human Torch

I will be calling Ross The Captain after his iconic tweet at the trade deadline

Detroit Pistons

  • Rodney McGruder – The Scavenger
  • Mason Plumlee – Plumdog Millionaire
  • Isaiah Stewart – Beef Stew

See, this is an exemplary nickname for Mr. Stewart. It fits his game, it works with his name, and it’s not a paragraph long. Perfect.

I guess I was wrong about there being a dearth of creative nicknames in the NBA. Kind of? Have a great day.