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A nickname is a familiar or humorous name given to a person, place, or thing instead of the real name. It is usually a descriptive name that has to do with some physical characteristic or some particular skill. In the world of sports, the use of nicknames is very common, and in most cases, players are better known by their nickname than by their real name. This is what happens with the NBA players, whose nicknames sometimes are very obvious, like James Harden “the Beard”, or Anthony Davis, “the brow”, however, others are very genuine, funny, and sometimes punchy.
Here we present 13 of the most genuine nicknames that will remain in NBA history forever. Keep on reading to discover the number 1.
13. Andrei Kirilenko – AK47
The Russian / American player was called this way in reference to both the jersey number he wore, and his initials, that matched the name of the AK-47 Russian rifle.
12. Dennis Rodman – The Worm
His nickname was due to his ability to wriggle himself in and out of tight situations to come out with the ball and snatch rebounds.
11. Vince Carter – Vinsanity
The player was good at entertaining the crowds with his leaping ability and slam dunks. The nickname is a combination of Vince and Insanity.
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo – The Greek Freak
He earned his nickname because of the combination of his nationality, in addition to his size, speed, and ball-handling skills.
9. Karl Malone – The Mailman
The player was one of the most consistent and reliable NBA players of all time with a scoring dominance. He was called that way because he always delivered in the post.
8. Shaquille O’Neal – Diesel
He was a player with many nicknames like Big Fella, Big Aristotle, among others, because of the power of his dominant game. The nickname Diesel suggests the power and endurance of a diesel engine.
7. Kevin Garnett – Big Ticket
The nickname is because he was the reason the Target Center in Minnesota was sold out every night, being able to play at a high speed and with multiple resources on the court.
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6. LeBron James – King James
His play, his media profile, and his statistics have made LeBron James one of the icons in the NBA, owner of one of the most heard nicknames. The “King” is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable players in the sport who has already become a legend.
5. Gary Payton – The Glove
His nickname, in reference to his defensive skills, was popularized during a game in 1993 between the Supersonics and the Suns. In one specific matchup against Kevin Johnson that was described: “You’re holding Kevin Johnson like a baseball in a glove.”
4. Allen Iverson – The Answer
Allen Iverson was at one period the answer to all the Sixers’ questions. Questions like: When will we be good again? When will we have another MVP? When will we win another championship? He was the answer to all those questions with his heart and talent play.
3. Earvin Johnson – Magic Johnson
The all-time NBA legend had his nickname before he was a star in the NBA. He was first called “Magic” when he was still in High School. A sportswriter gave him the nickname after seeing the 15-year-old prepster notch 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists.
2. Kobe Bryant – Black Mamba
It was the player who gave himself the nickname. In 2003 he was charged with sexual assault, and his reputation was badly damaged. It was then that he called himself “Black Mamba” as an alter ego to separate his personal life from his professional career. The “Black Mamba” was who played in the court.
1. Michael Jordan – Air Jordan
Air Jordan is the name that the brand Nike put for their sneakers, launched in 1984 and still popular. Nike took the name of the player for their running shoes called air soles. Michael played in the air so that the name of the sneakers and his nickname.
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