What’s In a (Nick)Name

Everyone grew up with an aka, or bka if you’re a girl/homo, some dope some not, but all supposedly meaning something to that individual. We have Uncle Swish a spin off of Derek Fisher’s (Uncle Fish) here for their similar playing styles and faces no homo. Then you have Swish Van Ex “the undersized two guard” it really doesn’t take much more explanation than that. Then there’s me “Swish Smits” mine ain’t as fitting as the other two but I thought it sounded ill. Plain and simple nicknames are cool to analyze.

These NBA Finals we had “The King”, “Flash”, “Bostrich”, “Durantula”, “Iblocka”, and “Westbrick”. All of them fitting in one way or another. Today we’re here to breakdown some of the more memorable and significant nicknames in the history of the NBA.

We start of course with the G.O.A.T. Michael “Air” Jordan: Was there ever a more fitting name for a player. Yes the name could have been given to Dr. J or Connie Hawkins before him but it only seems right that the man on one of the most recognizable symbols worldwide get this one. Particularly in his earlier years the man could glide, float, and even walk on “air” like no one before or after has been able to do.

Tim “The Big Fundamental” Duncan:


The nickname is actually a little doper than his game. But it’s very fitting, bank shots, solid screens, right hand/left hand layups, 20 and 10 at 7 feet tall, this is as by the textbook as a player could possibly be. He’s literally the reason I started watching baseball back in 99. I had never seen a player so fundamentally sound dominate basketball. It was mind boggling, I was used to the man up above (Jordan not Jesus) dominating with flashy plays, his tongue sticking out, and slick talk we could only imagine. But kudos to The Big Fundamental. 

Larry Johnson “Grandmama”: Definitely had nothing to do with how he played especially when he was being referred to as this early in his career but it’s one that I think we all remember vividly.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson: Only thru the use of NBA TV and random YouTube clips have I been able to see what Magic was really about. But it seemed like it was literally a magic show going on when he led those Showtime fastbreaks diming off and scooping layups left and right.

“Nick the Quick” Van Exel: A cat quick lefty who could put the ball in the hoop and who made high socks an NBA trend.

Ruben Patterson “The Kobe Stopper”: This one was more funny than viable. Ruben might have shut Kobe down a little bit prior to this proclaiming himself the stopper, but I know for sure that The Mamba went blood on him from that day on. RIP Portland Jailblazers.

Kobe Bryant “The Black Mamba”. Sad to say this is probably the greatest nickname in the history of basketball. Anyway you slice it though, this is Kobe Bryant. They say the black mamba has the ability to hide out and strike at any given moment, if you’ve seen enough games of Bean you know that he can go 0/10 qtrs 1-3 and be completely out of it and then in the 4th he goes bananas and drops 20 and leaves the opponent shocked and belittled.

Charles Barkley “The Round Mound of Rebound”. Chuck wasn’t as husky as he is nowadays on TNT but he was still a legit 265 in his playing days. He had to be the only great fat NBA player. No disrespect in calling him fat but it is what it is. That’s the “round” part, for the rebounds look no further than being top 20 all time in the NBA in rebounding at 6’5″*.

Chris Anderson “The Birdman”: They (white media) tagged him with this name due to his mohawk hair and ability to fly in the air and punch shots. According to swishnology though we dubbed him The Birdman because getting high isn’t (or maybe wasn’t) just an on court thing for Anderson.

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