Up until the early to mid 90's, NBA nicknames were pretty cool. By comparison, NBA nicknames today are just horrible. Let's take a look at some of todays biggest stars.
Nickname: King James
Verdict: Are you kidding me? One of the top 3 players in the league,
the future of the NBA, and all people can come up with is King James?
Is anyone even trying? It sure does beat Bron' Bron though.
Nickname: Black Mamba
Verdict: I have to be honest, at first I didn't even realize that Kobe had a nickname until I just remembered that he's called the Black Mamba. There's only one small problem with that nickname -- he gave it to himself! You can't do that. I mean, isn't the first rule of nicknames that you can't nickname yourself? Besides, no one ever refers to Kobe as the Black Mamba anyways, clearly evidence that it sucks.
Nickname: The Big Fundamental
Verdict: If God said to Moses, "Go forth and find me the most boring nickname you can", then this is what he would have come back with. "The Big Fundamental" has to be the most bland and un-exciting nickname of all time.
Nickname: The Answer
You're under arrest for having a crappy nickname
Verdict: Lame. A nickname that never gained mainstream appeal and was seemingly concocted by Reebok as a way for them to sell more sneakers.
The 90's: When people just gave up
Once we hit the mid-90's, people just stopped trying to even come up with cool nicknames. Think about it. Kevin Garnett's nickname is KG. Jason Richardson is J-Rich. Paul Pierce is P-Double. Tracy McGrady is T-Mac. It's as if people got so lazy that they just started nicknaming players after the initials in their own fuckin names! Chris Webber is "C-Webb", Dwyane Wade is "D-Wade", Allen Iverson is "AI" and the list goes on and on. And yes, I realize that Paul Pierce is also known as "The Truth" and that some call Dwyane Wade "Flash", but those nicknames don't immediately bring those players to mind when they're mentioned.
Tracy McGrady is pissed that his nickname sucks, and that he still can't get out of the first round.
The 70's to early 90's: The Golden Age
But back in the 70's to early 90's, the NBA was chock full of great players with great nicknames to match. Some of the best were Thunder Dan Marjle, Hakeem the Dream, Clyde the Glide, the Mailman, Pistol Pete, Kenny "The Jet" Smith, John "Hot Rod" Williams, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins, The Chief (Robert Parish), Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson, Penny Hardaway, Chuck "The Rifleman" Person, and the still hilarious Rik "The Dunking Dutchman" Smits.
You can tell how great the nicknames of old are because they are ICONIC. AIR Jordan. Magic Johnson. Dr. J., George "The Iceman" Gervin, and of course, The Human Highlight Film (Dominique Wilkins).
Dominique doing his thing
Back in the day, NBA stars were called and referred to by their nicknames. Gary Payton was the Glove. David Robinson was the Admiral. Nowadays, Carmello Anthony is referred to as 'Melo. How original.
In fact, the 80's and early 90's were actually filled with players whose nicknames were so good that people just assumed that they were their real first names. Remember Doc Rivers, Spud Webb, Mookie Blaylock, Muggsy Bouges? Now those are nicknames! The only current player who can compete with that is Craig "Speedy" Claxton.
Not all of the current NBA nicknames are horrible, however. A few of the better ones are Agent Zero (Gilbert Arenas), Junk Yard Dog (Jerome Williams), CP3 (Chris Paul),and one of the all-time greats, AK-47 (Andrei Kirilenko). I once read somewhere that Jerry Sloan should bench Kirilenko for a game and if the Jazz win, he'd be able to say at the post game press conference - "I didn't even have to use my AK, I gotta say, today was a good day."
Chris Paul gives his nickname the thumbs up
And the worst/weirdest/most interesting nickname of all-time has to go, hands down, to Larry Johnson, otherwise known as Grandmama.
And a close runner up is "Bimbo" Coles. Bimbo?! Are you serious?
Bimbo always has a ball in his hands