Posts Tagged ‘The best and worst nicknames in sports history.’

I’ve always been a nickname guy and have probably given out hundreds over the years, many of which have stuck, in some cases unfortunately. After all, there are grown men walking around still being referred to as “Egg,” “Tweet” and “Weiner” to this day, all thanks to me. And how I got away with christening a little girl “Grinch Dog” and her parents not coming after me with a ball bat is still a mystery to me.

Sorry everyone.

For some reason, sports has been a hotbed of nicknames for over a hundred years. Some of the nicknames are really cool, some not so much. As a nod to you, my loyal readers, I shall now list my favorite and not so favorite nicknames. Let us begin with the worst . . .


Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson

Alright, let’s get the obvious out there right away. Somebody called a guy with the last name of Johnson “The Big Unit”? That’s just wrong. Somebody, somewhere had a weird sense of humor. On a related note, word is Randy never had a problem getting a date.

Larry “Grandmama” Johnson

Larry "Grandmama" Johnson

Larry “Grandmama” Johnson

Larry Johnson was a basketball player who played for UNLV and then went on to play for the Knicks. He got the name because of a press campaign in which he dressed like a woman, which was supposed to be his grandmother. In addition to being a lame idea, it was borderline horrifying, as is obvious in that photo right there. Yikes.

Andrei “AK-47” Kirilenko

Because he wore #47. Get it? AK-47? Yeah, I agree. Dumb.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis

This name was given to him because he was a big fat guy who cried a lot. No word on how often he sucked his thumb or pooped his pants.

Tony “The Croatian Sensation” Kukoc

This name is 50% correct. He was Croatian.

Adam “Pacman” Jones

If you had a nice All-American name like Adam, why in the world would you go by Pacman? Who wants to be named after a made-up creature from a 1980’s video game?

Robert “RG3” Griffin III

Get it, RG3? See, the problem with these types of nicknames are that they’re way too easy. Same for Chris Paul, who wears #3 and goes by the name CP3. Too convenient, too stupid.

Chris “C-Webb” Webber

The deal where they take the first letter of the  first name and shorten the last name is overused and worn out. A-Rod is another one. B-o-o-o-o-ring.

“Chipper” Jones

Anyone over the age of 12 who still goes by the name of “Chipper” should be punched in the throat. Then again, his real name is Larry, so there’s that.

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway

Penny? Really? Hardaway was supposed to see the next Michael Jordan. That didn’t quite pan out, but we’re still left with the eternal question – what would be worse for a dude, going by the name Anfernee or Penny?

Carlton “Pudge” Fisk

Ivan Rodriguez also went by the name “Pudge”, which isn’t exactly the most flattering nickname in the world. Especially when you’re a world class athlete. Jeebus.

Yep, that's The Worm.

Yep, that’s The Worm.

Dennis “The Worm” Rodman

Although entirely fitting (as you can see by the photos), it doesn’t exactly illicit warm and fuzzy feelings about the dude.

But enough of the bad nicknames, let’s get to the good ones . . .


Earl “The Pearl” Monroe

This nickname was perfect. Earl Monroe was a smooth, dazzling ballhandler and scorer. He was the one and only Pearl.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson

When you actually go by your nickname in everyday life you know you have a good one. Not only did this name fit perfectly, everybody calls him that (save for Michael Wilbon who calls him Earvin because he’s a pretentious jock-sniffer). But man, if you ever saw Magic play, well, he was magic.

“Pistol” Pete Maravich

The Pistol. He was a gunner and a ballhandling and passing wizard. There’s only been one Pistol, and that was the original Pistol Pete. By the way, The Pistol was way ahead of his time.

The Pistol.

The Pistol.

“Broadway” Joe Namath

He played pro football for the NY Jets, he loved the bright lights, and he was a star. Great, great nickname. And so very fitting.

Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose

If anyone ever earned a nickname, it was Pete Rose. He ran full-speed to first base after a walk, sprinted to his spot when taking the field, and once broke a catcher’s collarbone after running him over in an All-Star game. Also happens to be baseball’s all-time hit leader, earning him another fitting  nickname – “The Hit King.” My favorite baseball player ever, and the Hall of Fame means nothing without him.

Julius “Dr. J” Erving

Ah, The Doctor. Dr. J operated with calculated precision against his opponents. Smooth, deadly and silent. One of the best nicknames ever, period. Plus, many of his peers actually called him “Doc”.

Wilt “The Big Dipper” Chamberlain

Make no mistake. Nobody referred to Wilt as “The Stilt” unless you were in the media. Why? Because he hated it. He did like “The Big Dipper” or “The Dipper”, however. And what Wilt wanted, Wilt usually got. Read his book “A View from Above” and that statement will make much more sense. Heh-heh.

Michael “Air” Jordan

Although this was a great nickname, it wasn’t a name actually used when talking to Jordan. It was more of a media thing created to sell shoes. Nobody ever said, “Hey Air, what’s shakin’?” Still an iconic name, however.

Jack "The Assassin" Tatum

Jack “The Assassin” Tatum

Jack “The Assassin” Tatum

I love this nickname given to former Ohio State and Oakland Raider football player Jack Tatum, because if you watched him play you knew he was actually trying to kill you. In my opinion he was the baddest mofo to ever play the game. Yeah, I know he was the guy who hit Daryl Stingley so hard he was paralyzed for life, but I always thought he got a bad rap for that hit. Jack Tatum was badass.

George “The Iceman” Gervin

If you ever saw George play you know that this nickname was PERFECT. He was long, smooth as silk, and never, ever got rattled. The Iceman indeed. Oh, and his finger-roll was perfecto.

Eldrick “Tiger” Woods

Again, as iconic a nickname as there’s ever been in sports. Not only did he burst onto the staid golf scene like a bat out of hell in the late 90’s, he had a nickname that had pizzazz as well. And yes, I just used the word pizzazz.

Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson

Reggie was one of my favorite players because he was at his best when his team needed it the most, hence the nickname. Bottom line, as a major league baseball player there’s no more complimentary name than “Mr. October.”

Note: Back in the late 90’s Reggie was asked how many home runs he’d hit in today’s game, when guys like McGwire and Sosa were hitting 60+ homers per year. Reggie answered, “Oh, probably 50 or 55.” Is that all, the reporter asked? “What do you expect?” replied Reggie. “I’m 53-years old.”

“Iron” Mike Tyson

OK kids, go to YouTube and check out Mike Tyson’s early career. After doing so you will have no questions regarding this nickname. His other nickname? “The Baddest Man on the Planet.” ‘Nuff said.

Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali

Well, this nickname certainly says it all, no? Simple and to the point. Nothing more needs to be said. “The Greatest.” And he was.

The Babe.

The Babe.

George Herman “Babe” Ruth

Yep, I saved the absolute best for last. The Babe. Somehow, this moniker was the perfect fit for baseball’s greatest player. All you have to do is say it, “The Babe”, and nearly every single person on earth knows who you’re talking about. Hell, if he played today he’d be saddled with “G-Ru” or something moronic like that.

When did we lose our originality and creativity?

You know, I think if you are actually referred to by your nickname it adds credence to how great the nickname is. For instance, of all the nicknames mentioned above only a few are used as the athletes regular name rather than his given one by his peers. Those are Magic, Tiger, Babe, and sometimes Doc (as in Dr. J).  For that reason alone I rate those four as the best of the best.

So, sports fans, who did I miss? Lemme hear it!