The Top 5 Worst NBA Nicknames

By: 08.07.12
Jalen Rose

Jalen Rose is the last relevant member of the Fab Five, parlaying his NBA career into an ESPN NBA analyst job and Grantland podcaster. Well, apparently Jalen doesn’t consider himself a part of the everyday media machine, even though he’s a part of the 30-second attention-grabbing proclamations that berate us through the television day in and day out. In a recent radio appearance, Rose took the opportunity to reproach the recently nicknamed “Fab Five” U.S. women’s gymnastics team under the guise of laziness, even if this was only a veiled defense of his own unique distinction as one of Michigan basketball’s five fabulous freshmen. Here’s what Jalen had to say:

“‘To use the nickname just points and screams of lazy journalism by the national media, that’s really what it is,’ Rose told Jamie Samuelsen of 97.1 FM in Detroit. ‘It’s no fault at all of the young gymnasts. But I really wish they would have come up with an even more creative tag for them and their gold medal pursuit.'”

The truth is, he’s probably right. Although “lazy journalism” might be a bit of an overstatement – I’d go with not-important-enough-to-actually-care-about journalism that happened to infringe upon Jalen Rose’s hallowed past. We like easy nicknames. Because, for whatever reason, regular names just aren’t good enough. Except instead of pooling our creative genius, we slap some half-assed analogy or pun or abbreviation on an athlete and run with it. If it’s catchy, even better.

Really, we should just let Shaq come up with everything. He named Paul Pierce “The Truth,” and his self-given titles of “The Big Aristotle” or “Shaqovich” just scratch the surface of his naming aptitude. But alas, that’s not how it happens, and we’re left with some pretty underwhelming NBA nicknames. Some have stuck, so they’ve fenagaled their way into basketball’s vocabulary, even if they’re of poor quality. In order to further air Jalen Rose’s dirty laundry, we’ve decided to bring you the worst of the worst. Remember, popular doesn’t equal good. It just equals popular.

I look forward to being summarily executed in the comments.

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5. Steve Francis – “Stevie Franchise”

Steve Francis

Steve Francis (photo. Gary Land)

I’ll admit, there was a time when Steve Francis was good at basketball. Great, maybe. Except Francis fell into the all-too-tired “add ‘franchise’ to someone’s name” moniker, and the rest was awful history. Francis’ career flamed out rather quickly, and as most suspected, he never panned out as a true franchise player. Although he did spearhead the combo-guard generation, along with Stephon Marbury, outlining a path for statistical success and confusing the natural order of things.

But Stevie Franchise, as a nickname, is a disaster. I don’t have anything better, but sometimes a guy’s last name just works. It’s not like he’s Olowokandi, or something.

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4. Clyde Drexler – “Clyde The Glide”

The Glide

Not only does this lack creativity and rely on a simple rhyming scheme, it isn’t even English. Glide is a verb, friends – you can’t just stick an article in front of a verb and call it a noun. Maybe we could have gone the gerund route by switching it to “Gliding,” but then we lose that expert rhyming! We’re in a real pickle here, except we’re not, because no one has acknowledged this grammatical gaffe in 20 years.

Why wasn’t Clyde Drexler good enough? It’s a pretty sweet name by itself, but maybe people were fearful of confusing him with Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Who knows.

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3. Karl Malone – “The Mailman”

Karl Malone

You know, because he always delivers. Too bad he didn’t, ever. MJ stole the ball from him before that famous Byron Russell crossover. Just Google “Karl Malone choke artist” and watch your computer explode.

At least Malone’s nickname required some ounce of thought, so there’s that. But it’s completely inaccurate, which is unfortunate, if only because it would have been nice if Malone delivered at least once for a Utah squad that probably had one of the greatest non-dynasty teams to never win a title. He has to be in the top five most hated upon greatest players ever at this point – and, in a convoluted sense, playing with John Stockton probably only hurt his career reputation. Maybe he wouldn’t have been as statistically dominant, or even made an NBA Finals, but people would have actually, you know, liked him.

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2. Chauncey Billups – “Mr. Big Shot”

There are a couple things wrong here, but mainly it’s the blatant plagiarism. Ever heard of “Big Shot Bob,” also known as Robert Horry? He beat you to it, Chauncey, although you didn’t give yourself this nickname so you’ll get a pass. But whoever came up with this one obviously doesn’t follow basketball, because Robert Horry actually hit a trillion big shots, while Chauncey only took a trillion. Sure, he made a few back when the Pistons were showcasing the “team” concept. But he has an uncanny knack for chucking up three-pointers early in the shot clock as soon as the fourth quarter rolls around, so it’s only a matter of percentages that he’s going to knock some down eventually.

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