20 Best Nicknames In NBA History

Nicknames and the NBA have gone hand-in-hand since the sport became popular several decades ago. The players give them to each other, some are given by the media and in some instances self-appointed. They have helped give the NBA, and its stars, an identity that helped propel the NBA in popularity over the years. These are the 20 best nicknames in NBA history.

20. Tim Duncan “The Big Fundamental”
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Has there ever been a superstar in basketball more tame than Duncan? He was so good it was almost boring. He did everything well, especially for a big man. He is the perfect example of what big men should do in the NBA.

19. Larry Bird “The Hick From French Lick”
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Bird was one of the best to ever play the game. Even though the small town of French Lick, Indiana had some notoriety in the past it was Bird that put it on the map while in college at Indiana State.

18. LeBron “King” James
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The King James Bible is now the second most notable thing named “King James.” LeBron is one of the best to ever play so his title is fitting.

17. Vince “Vinsanity” Carter
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Carter was an amazing talent, insane even. He helped take the New Jersey Nets to a finals. That’s how good he was. Amazingly he is still playing and providing depth off the bench for Sacramento.

16. Dominique Wilkins “The Human Highlight Film”
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Anyone who saw Wilkins play would be hard pressed to name anyone who played the game with as much athleticism and skill as Dominique. He seemed to have wings at times with his dunks. Few were as exciting to watch as Wilkins.

15. Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain
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One of the first true big men in the NBA, he revolutionized the game. He also had a fitting nickname since it looked like he was on stilts while everyone else was on their own feet.

14. Clyde “The Glide” Drexler
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Drexler was smooth and seemed to fly through opposing defenses. Few nicknames were more fitting.

13. Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon
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Olajuwon was a dream for the Houston Rockets. He delivered two championships for the Rockets. He was probably the best big man in an era where the center was king.

12. Karl “Mailman” Malone
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Malone got the nickname because he always delivered. He was one of the best power forwards of his generation, if not the best.

11. Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins
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Stevie Wonder gave him the nickname. He was known for his huge dunks. He was crashing backboards before Shaquille O’Neal made it cool.

10. Charles Barkley “The Round Mound of Rebound”
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His nickname might be a mouthful but it certainly fits. He was one of the best power forwards of his era and excelled in an age where big men tended to dominate.

9. Michael “Air” Jordan
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His Airness received his nickname for his ability to almost fly through the air on his dunks. Jordan is still the best to ever play the game leaving him in an airspace all his own.

8. Gary “The Glove” Payton
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He was one of the best point guards in the game. He was very good offensively but his nickname comes from his ability to play defense. He could guard almost anyone.

7. David “The Admiral” Robinson
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When you attend the Naval Academy you can bet your nickname will have something to do with the Navy. The Admiral is a fitting moniker for an all-time great.

6. Allen “The Answer” Iverson
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He received the nickname shortly after joining the Philadelphia 76ers because he was the answer to their problems. He managed to turn the franchise around for some time. Iverson was one of the most exciting players to ever play the game.

5. Kobe “The Black Mamba” Bryant
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Bryant gave himself the nickname “The Black Mamba” to separate his professional and personal personas. It stuck though, something self-appointed nicknames rarely do. It certainly helps when you are one of the greatest to ever play the game.

4. George “Ice Man” Gervin
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Gervin got his nickname for his demeanor on the court and because he was rarely seen sweating. He is one of the best players to ever play the game. They don’t make them like the Ice Man anymore.

3. “Pistol” Pete Maravich
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“Pistol” was one of the most prolific players of his era. He could shoot the ball from anywhere and averaged 31.1 PPG when there was no three-point line. He still holds the NCAA record for points with 3,667 and PPG which is an astounding 44.2.

2. Julius “Dr. J” Erving
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Erving made a name for himself with his prolific dunks and his ability to put on clinics. The doctor was in when he was on the court and few nicknames were so fitting.

1. Earvin “Magic” Johnson
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If you called Earvin Johnson one of the best basketball players ever the casual fan might look at you strangely. Mention Magic Johnson as being one of the best ever and even the most casual fan would nod in agreement. When your nickname becomes who you are it has to top the list.