Best Professional Athlete Nicknames Of All Time

By Jacob Kornhauser

We love to give athletes nicknames based on their personalities, playing styles, and other things, but most are relatively unimpressive. However, these 20 athlete nicknames are awesome. They’re the best of all time and have stuck with the athletes they’re attached to.

Best Professional Athlete Nicknames Of All Time
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20. Randy Johnson - The Big Unit

Randy Johnson - The Big Unit Credit: Getty Images
Very few nicknames describe someone better than "The Big Unit" describes Randy Johnson. He is nearly seven feet tall and could throw the ball well over 100 mph in his prime, making him one of the most feared pitchers in baseball history. While the fastball may have faded by now, he will always be a huge guy, which means the nickname will always stick.

20. Randy Johnson - The Big Unit

Very few nicknames describe someone better than "The Big Unit" describes Randy Johnson. He is nearly seven feet tall and could throw the ball well over 100 mph in his prime, making him one of the most feared pitchers in baseball history. While the fastball may have faded by now, he will always be a huge guy, which means the nickname will always stick.

19. Allen Iverson - The Answer

Allen Iverson - The Answer Credit: Getty Images
When he went to the 76ers, AI was considered "The Answer" to all of Philadelphia's problems. And with the money that came with going to the NBA, he was seen as "The Answer" to all of his family's problems. One thing is for sure: If the question was "who was the best scoring point guard of his era?" then "The Answer" would certainly be Allen Iverson.

19. Allen Iverson - The Answer

When he went to the 76ers, AI was considered "The Answer" to all of Philadelphia's problems. And with the money that came with going to the NBA, he was seen as "The Answer" to all of his family's problems. One thing is for sure: If the question was "who was the best scoring point guard of his era?" then "The Answer" would certainly be Allen Iverson.

18. Karl Malone - The Mailman

Karl Malone - The Mailman Credit: Getty Images
The Mailman always delivers and that's why Karl Malone got his nickname. In big spots, he always seemed to step up and could be depended upon. Sure, it's not the most flashy of nicknames, but it reflected his ability to come through in the clutch, so he probably didn't mind.

18. Karl Malone - The Mailman

The Mailman always delivers and that's why Karl Malone got his nickname. In big spots, he always seemed to step up and could be depended upon. Sure, it's not the most flashy of nicknames, but it reflected his ability to come through in the clutch, so he probably didn't mind.

17. LeBron James - King James

LeBron James - King James Credit: Getty Images
This one is pretty simple, but effective. LeBron could have been crowned the King of Cleveland when he came into the league and nobody would have batted an eye. Since he has been the best player in the league for several years, he essentially reigns over the league. Therefore, the nickname makes perfect sense.

17. LeBron James - King James

This one is pretty simple, but effective. LeBron could have been crowned the King of Cleveland when he came into the league and nobody would have batted an eye. Since he has been the best player in the league for several years, he essentially reigns over the league. Therefore, the nickname makes perfect sense.

16. David Ortiz - Big Papi

David Ortiz - Big Papi Credit: Getty Images
David Ortiz loves this nickname just as much as everyone else. It just seems to fit him. He's a big guy, hits home runs and has fun doing it. Really, everything about him is fun, and the nickname is just an extension of that.

16. David Ortiz - Big Papi

David Ortiz loves this nickname just as much as everyone else. It just seems to fit him. He's a big guy, hits home runs and has fun doing it. Really, everything about him is fun, and the nickname is just an extension of that.

15. Ken Griffey Jr. - Kid Griffey

Ken Griffey Jr. - Kid Griffey Credit: Getty Images
This is a really simple nickname, but it captured the essence of Ken Griffey Jr. early in his career. He was really young when he came into the league and played with youthful vigor. That's what everyone loved about him from the start and that's what everyone will always remember about the Hall of Famer's career.

15. Ken Griffey Jr. - Kid Griffey

This is a really simple nickname, but it captured the essence of Ken Griffey Jr. early in his career. He was really young when he came into the league and played with youthful vigor. That's what everyone loved about him from the start and that's what everyone will always remember about the Hall of Famer's career.

14. Pete Rose - Charlie Hustle

Pete Rose - Charlie Hustle Credit: Getty Images
This described Pete Rose perfectly, as nobody ran as hard every time out on the field as him. Now, this is a nickname given to young players who hustle as well, which shows it has withstood the test of time. Love him or hate him, Rose played the game hard and you have to respect that.

14. Pete Rose - Charlie Hustle

This described Pete Rose perfectly, as nobody ran as hard every time out on the field as him. Now, this is a nickname given to young players who hustle as well, which shows it has withstood the test of time. Love him or hate him, Rose played the game hard and you have to respect that.

13. William Perry - The Fridge

William Perry - The Fridge Credit: Getty Images
This might be blunt, but nothing else would quite fit William Perry, one of the largest human beings to ever step foot on a football field. The popular Bears defensive lineman was quite the character and was part of the 1985 team, which is often thought of as the best in NFL history. He even scored a TD in the Super Bowl that year. With his large size resembling the household appliance, very few defenders would have been able to take him down when he dove for the end zone.

13. William Perry - The Fridge

This might be blunt, but nothing else would quite fit William Perry, one of the largest human beings to ever step foot on a football field. The popular Bears defensive lineman was quite the character and was part of the 1985 team, which is often thought of as the best in NFL history. He even scored a TD in the Super Bowl that year. With his large size resembling the household appliance, very few defenders would have been able to take him down when he dove for the end zone.

12. Pete Maravich - Pistol Pete

Pete Maravich - Pistol Pete Credit: Getty Images
Creatively, Maravich earned this nickname because he tended to "shoot from the hip" when firing passes to teammates. Since his passing was the best part of his game, that's the nickname that stuck. Plus, the name just sounds cool, which has to count for something.

12. Pete Maravich - Pistol Pete

Creatively, Maravich earned this nickname because he tended to "shoot from the hip" when firing passes to teammates. Since his passing was the best part of his game, that's the nickname that stuck. Plus, the name just sounds cool, which has to count for something.

11. Ty Cobb - The Georgia Peach

Ty Cobb - The Georgia Peach Credit: Getty Images
A Georgia native, Ty Cobb went on to be one of the best and most controversial figures in baseball history. That's what makes the nickname so ironic. It may make him sound like a nice guy, but he was far from it. Known for sharpening his spikes, sliding high and picking fights, Cobb was one of the angriest players to ever take the diamond.

11. Ty Cobb - The Georgia Peach

A Georgia native, Ty Cobb went on to be one of the best and most controversial figures in baseball history. That's what makes the nickname so ironic. It may make him sound like a nice guy, but he was far from it. Known for sharpening his spikes, sliding high and picking fights, Cobb was one of the angriest players to ever take the diamond.

10. Calvin Johnson - Megatron

Calvin Johnson - Megatron Credit: Getty Images
Calvin Johnson is practically a machine, so it only makes sense that his nickname comes from a Transformer. Sure, he's not quite as big as the Transformer character, but he's faster and has better hands, which has helped make him one of the best receivers of his generation.

10. Calvin Johnson - Megatron

Calvin Johnson is practically a machine, so it only makes sense that his nickname comes from a Transformer. Sure, he's not quite as big as the Transformer character, but he's faster and has better hands, which has helped make him one of the best receivers of his generation.

9. Joe Jackson - Shoeless Joe

Joe Jackson - Shoeless Joe Credit: Getty Images
Earning his nickname because he was scouted while playing for his factory team without shoes, Joe Jackson became one of the best players of his time. Unfortunately, he got caught up in the 1919 Black Sox scandal and was banned for life from baseball despite playing better in the 1919 World Series than regular season.

9. Joe Jackson - Shoeless Joe

Earning his nickname because he was scouted while playing for his factory team without shoes, Joe Jackson became one of the best players of his time. Unfortunately, he got caught up in the 1919 Black Sox scandal and was banned for life from baseball despite playing better in the 1919 World Series than regular season.

8. Wilt Chamberlain - Wilt the Stilt

Wilt Chamberlain - Wilt the Stilt Credit: Getty Images
This nickname may not even do Wilt justice. Most normal people still wouldn't have been as tall as him, even on stilts. One of the best scorers ever, Chamberlain towered over the competition. His 100 points in a single game may never be matched again.

8. Wilt Chamberlain - Wilt the Stilt

This nickname may not even do Wilt justice. Most normal people still wouldn't have been as tall as him, even on stilts. One of the best scorers ever, Chamberlain towered over the competition. His 100 points in a single game may never be matched again.

7. Reggie Jackson - Mr. October

Reggie Jackson - Mr. October Credit: Getty Images
You know you're good when your nickname centers around you stepping up in the postseason. That's exactly what Reggie Jackson was: clutch in the playoffs. With the Athletics and Yankees, he always seemed to make big plays when it mattered most. It's still among the cooler nicknames in baseball history.

7. Reggie Jackson - Mr. October

You know you're good when your nickname centers around you stepping up in the postseason. That's exactly what Reggie Jackson was: clutch in the playoffs. With the Athletics and Yankees, he always seemed to make big plays when it mattered most. It's still among the cooler nicknames in baseball history.

6. Wayne Gretzky - The Great One

Wayne Gretzky - The Great One Credit: Getty Images
Little more needs to be said about Wayne Gretzky. He was undoubtedly the greatest hockey player of all time, so his nickname speaks for itself. He just had a way of putting the puck in the back of the net. Nobody will ever be able to match his talent level in the NHL again.

6. Wayne Gretzky - The Great One

Little more needs to be said about Wayne Gretzky. He was undoubtedly the greatest hockey player of all time, so his nickname speaks for itself. He just had a way of putting the puck in the back of the net. Nobody will ever be able to match his talent level in the NHL again.

5. Michael Jordan - Air Jordan

Michael Jordan - Air Jordan Credit: Getty Images
This nickname has become a brand name, but it began when Michael Jordan started flying high and people took notice. Of course, he quickly became a household name and the nickname became synonymous with him. Now, he makes a pretty penny off that brand every single year.

5. Michael Jordan - Air Jordan

This nickname has become a brand name, but it began when Michael Jordan started flying high and people took notice. Of course, he quickly became a household name and the nickname became synonymous with him. Now, he makes a pretty penny off that brand every single year.

4. Walter Payton - Sweetness

Walter Payton - Sweetness Credit: Getty Images
In every way, this nickname perfectly fit Walter Payton, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. The way he ran on the field could be described that way, and the way he treated others off the field was aptly described by the nickname as well. It's just a shame Sweetness wasn't around longer.

4. Walter Payton - Sweetness

In every way, this nickname perfectly fit Walter Payton, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. The way he ran on the field could be described that way, and the way he treated others off the field was aptly described by the nickname as well. It's just a shame Sweetness wasn't around longer.

3. Deion Sanders - Prime Time

Deion Sanders - Prime Time Credit: Getty Images
Deion Sanders was quite the entertainer and when it was "Prime Time" you knew it. When the lights shined brightest, Sanders was at his best and was dazzling as a cornerback and return man. Of course, he played a big part in self promoting this particular nickname because he liked it so much.

3. Deion Sanders - Prime Time

Deion Sanders was quite the entertainer and when it was "Prime Time" you knew it. When the lights shined brightest, Sanders was at his best and was dazzling as a cornerback and return man. Of course, he played a big part in self promoting this particular nickname because he liked it so much.

2. Willie Mays - The "Say Hey" Kid

Willie Mays - The "Say Hey" Kid Credit: Getty Images
Nobody knows for sure how Willie Mays got his nickname, but it sounds cool regardless of how he got it. Add on top of that that he's a top five player in league history, and it really doesn't matter how he got the name. One thing is for sure: People will always remember the "Say Hey" Kid.

2. Willie Mays - The "Say Hey" Kid

Nobody knows for sure how Willie Mays got his nickname, but it sounds cool regardless of how he got it. Add on top of that that he's a top five player in league history, and it really doesn't matter how he got the name. One thing is for sure: People will always remember the "Say Hey" Kid.

1. Charles Barkley - The Round Mound of Rebound

Charles Barkley - The Round Mound of Rebound Credit: Getty Images
This may not be the most flattering nickname, but it sure is entertaining. It's one of the longer nicknames, but it's so clever that you can't help but like it. He was a huge guy and dominated the boards in his prime, so even Barkley can't really protest the moniker, even if it pokes fun at his weight.

1. Charles Barkley - The Round Mound of Rebound

This may not be the most flattering nickname, but it sure is entertaining. It's one of the longer nicknames, but it's so clever that you can't help but like it. He was a huge guy and dominated the boards in his prime, so even Barkley can't really protest the moniker, even if it pokes fun at his weight.

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