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Top 10 Nicknames in NBA History

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Best NBA Nicknames

Source: Jeff Hanisch- USA Today Sports

Nicknames can be a good thing or a bad thing, especially when it comes to professional athletes. Some athletes never even get a nickname, but that could be a good thing. I mean, would you really want to be well known because you are a bad athlete?

These NBA players have had their nicknames bestowed on them. Honestly, none of these are really “bad” nicknames. They just fit the personality or athletic ability of the player. Some of them got their nicknames at a young age and it stuck with them throughout their career. Others gained their nickname during their times in the NBA.

Either way, these are ten of the best nicknames in the history of the NBA. Now, I didn’t include LeBron James (pictured above) in my nickname list. His nickname “King James” is a little controversial if you ask me. Some say he got this name in high school, others say that he got it because he saved the franchise of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The worst part about this though, is the fact that he has called himself “King James” during public interviews. In my opinion that just shows how cocky LeBron really is. Yes, he is currently the best player in the league but that shouldn’t give him the right to call himself the King. Until LeBron gains as many individual and team titles as Michael Jordan, I will not consider him the NBA king.

But that’s enough about LeBron; let’s get back to ten greatest nicknames in NBA history. Sure, there are a lot more that could be added to the list, but I think these ten hold a perfect fit for a good nickname. Enjoy!

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10. Dennis Rodman "The Worm"

Source: Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

Rodman's nickname "The Worm" came from his impressive ability to steal rebounds. Apparently, his mother also called him that as a child because he would wiggle around while playing pinball. Now, Rodman has found a way to worm himself into North Korea, a country that currently despises the United States.

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9. Wilt Chamberlain "Wilt the Stilt, The Big Dipper"

Source: wikimedia

Clearly, Chamberlain's height helped him get the nickname of "The Stilt." However, I prefer the name of "The Big Dipper." It may seem random but he got the nickname from his friends in high school because he always had to duck before entering through a doorway. That's actually pretty clever for a group of high school students.

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8. Chris Andersen "Birdman"

Source: Robert Mayer- USA Today Sports

Andersen's mohawk pretty much describes this nickname. He also has the ability to fly in the air as he swats away dunks from guys that are taller than him. It's pretty much an alter-ego for this Miami Heat player, but now we see fans mimicking his look all the time; sometimes we even see babies with fake tattoos and the infamous hair.

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7. Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Source: Kirby Lee- USA Today Sports

Young sports fans out there probably don't even know that his name isn't really Magic Johnson since that's what he's always referred to. While playing for the Everett High School basketball team, he had a game with a triple-double 36 points, 16 rebounds and 16 assists at the age of 15. After that, a sportswriter called him Magic for the first time. The name stuck and he continued on to be one of the top players in the NBA.

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6. Larry Bird "Larry Legend, The Hick from South Lick"

Source: Steve Mitchell- USA Today Sports

Bird was one of the best shooters in NBA history so he is clearly a legend. The "Hick from French Lick" on the other hand, is simply priceless. French Lick, Indiana was where Bird spent his childhood and he did kind of look like a hick.

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5. Michael Jordan "Air Jordan, His Airness"

Source: Brian Spurlock- USA Today Sports

Jordan is the best player in NBA history so he clearly deserves a spot on this list. He could jump higher than everyone else and always soared through the air. His most infamous dunk from the free throw line has been attempted by others but not a single one has succeeded.

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4. Karl Malone "The Mailman"

Source: wikimedia

Why is an NBA star being compared to a mailman? Because Karl Malone always delivered. If your team was in a clutch, Malone was the man that could turn the game around. Unfortunately in the 1997 NBA Finals, the mailman failed to deliver. The Chicago Bulls' Scottie Pippen taunted Malone on the free throw line saying, "the mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays." Ironically, Malone missed the shot and the Bulls went on to win the game.

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3. George Gervin "The Iceman"

Source: Kim Klement- USA Today Sports

Gervin got his nickname for his ability to keep a cool demeanor on the court. When Gervin had to play under pressure, he always played with grace. There was no aggression or nervousness, he always kept his cool.

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2. Pete Maravich "Pistol Pete"


Maravich got this name for his amazing ball-handling skills and extremely unique shooting style. He got the name in high school and it stuck with him throughout his career in the NBA. If you haven't heard the whole story, go check out the movie "Pistol- The Life of Pete Maravich," it's actually a pretty good film.

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1. Kobe Bryant "The Black Mamba"

Source: Gary A Vasquez- USA Today Sports

As much as I hate Kobe, he does have one of the best nicknames in sports. A black mamba is actually one of the most poisonous snakes in the world which means they are very dangerous. The way that Kobe attacks the lane makes him one of the most intimidating players in the league; if you don't stop him in time, then your team is done for. It is clearly a good fit, even if he is one of the most hated NBA players.