NBA Nicknames: From Air Jordan to Dr. J


By: Nathan Chandler

4 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The best NBA players rarely go by just their birth names. Their amazing on-court abilities draw all sorts of nicknames, from amusing to the slightly derogatory. How much do you know about the most famous NBA nicknames?

What was NOT one of Kevin Garnett's nicknames?

He wasn't known as "The Scowl," although his frown was quite famous. He was often called "The Big Ticket" or just "KD."


Who was "Reign Man"?

Few players could physically dominate (and terrify) opponents quite like Shawn Kemp. "Reign Man" was true NBA royalty.


Clyde Drexel became known as "Clyde the WHAT"?

Watch a few NBA highlight films and you'll see "Clyde the Glide" soar through the air for a vicious slam dunk. His smooth stride, agility and jumping ability made Drexler a true NBA weapon.


Which player was called "The Captain"?

Abdul-Jabbar was a consummate leader on the court. His teammates often called him "Captain," or simply "Cap."


Who's the "King"?

LeBron James has never been one to restrain his ego. He's happy to call himself "The King."


Tyrone Bogues was called what?

Muggsy was the shortest player ever in the NBA. His short stature and speed helped him generate steals at a prodigious rate, earning him the name "Muggsy."


Who was called "Skip 2 My Lou"?

Rafer Alston got the nickname due to his funky crossover dribbling style, which he called "Skip 2 My Lou." It became his nickname.


What was NOT one of Ray Allen's nicknames?

Ray's was never Area Code 3. He was known as Jesus Shuttlesworth for a movie appearance, but most fans loved to call him "Ray Ray."


Who was called "The Great White Hope"?

Bird was sometimes called "The Great White Hope," sometimes derisively, as other players didn't believe the pale skinny kid could make it in the NBA. They were, shall we say, quite wrong about that.


Which player got his nickname from his unique shooting style?

Pete Maravich was "Pistol Pete." He had a (highly effective) habit of starting his shooting motion from the side of his hip, which made it seem like he was drawing a pistol.


What was NOT one of Shaquille O'Neal's nicknames?

OK, so he wasn’t Large Marge. O'Neal earned tons of nicknames during his successful career, but most people just called him "Shaq."


Why was Larry Johnson called "Grandmama"?

Johnson famously played his own grandmother in popular Converse shoe commercials. His "Grandmama" nickname was both hilarious and memorable.


Finish this nickname: Hakeen the ____".

Hakeem Olajuwon was one of the best centers ever to play the game. He was "Hakeem the Dream" and not only was he a great player, but he was known for being a nice guy, too.


Why was Tim Duncan called "The Big Fundamental"?

Duncan excelled in all of basketball's basic skills. "The Big Fundamental" was often boring to watch, but he was exceedingly effective.


Gary Payton was renowned for his tight defense. What was his nickname?

Payton was called "The Glove" because offensive players couldn't shake him. He was cocky … and really, really good.


Who was "The Answer"?

Coming out of college, Iverson was considered "The Answer" to many 76ers woes. He was Philly's first round draft pick and became a standout player.


How did Shaquille O'Neal get the nickname "The Big Aristotle"?

Shaq famously announced the nickname for himself at a press conference. He took the name from the famous philosopher Aristotle who said, "Excellence is not a singular act; it's a habit. You are what you repeatedly do."


Why was Karl Malone called "The Mailman"?

In crunch time, Malone was always clutch. "The Mailman" always delivered the biggest plays when it mattered most.


Dominique Wilkins earned which nickname?

Some people said Wilkins alone was worth the price of admission. "The Human Highlight Film" was known for his frequent spectacular plays, particularly when it came to dunking the ball.


Which player was often called "His Airness"?

Michael Jordan was often called "His Airness," or "Air Jordan," because of his amazing leaping ability. A lot of people simply call him "MJ."


Who was "The Round Mound of Rebound"?

Charles Barkley was a bit on the rotund side during his playing days, but he was still an amazing rebounder, making him "The Round Mound of Rebound."


How did Kobe Bryant get the nickname "Black Mamba"?

Bryant's never been shy about touting himself. He gave himself the "Black Mamba" nickname in reference to the deadly Australian reptile, which can aggressively strike again and again.


When did Eric Floyd earn his famous "Sleepy" nickname?

As a young kid, Floyd looked like he was screwing around (or perhaps napping) during his time on the floor. It led to his memorable "Sleepy Floyd" nickname.


Who was "The Stilt"?

Wilt Chamberlain was a large, large man known as "Wilt the Stilt." He was over 7 feet tall … but weighed just 265 pounds.


Which player gave Paul Pierce his nickname, "The Truth"?

After Pierce scorched the Lakers for 42 points in a losing effort for the Celtics, Shaquille O'Neal was impressed with the man in green, calling him "The Truth" in an obscenity-laced compliment. The name stuck.


David Robinson served in the military. What was his NBA nickname?

Robinson served in the United States Navy (and played for the team at the Naval Academy). His service earned him a fabulous nickname -- "The Admiral."


In reality, what rank did Robinson earn in the Navy?

He made it to lieutenant, junior grade. He was on active duty for two years and then went on to an unforgettable NBA career.


What was Patrick Ewing's nickname?

Ewing was a massive (and massively intimidating) player for the Knicks. He was "The Beast of the East."


What factor contributed to Glen Davis getting his nickname "Big Baby"?

As a kid, Davis was physically so large that he was forced to play on teams against older opponents. It was a rough introduction to sports and his coach told him to "stop being a big baby."


Who is "The Brow"?

It's hard to imagine an NBA player with a more impressive on-court resume, or such impressive eyebrows. Anthony Davis is called "The Brow" for an obvious reason.


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