I Searched Basketball-Reference For the NBA’s Most Disrespectful Nicknames and I Found the Darkest World

Nicknames are inevitable. You’ve probably got one of your own. You’ve probably got a nickname for someone else that you’ve bought into. Good nicknames can add an element of individualism and solidify a persona. The hallmark of a good nickname is a name that almost subconsciously takes place of the person’s given name. 

KD. Bron. Magic. Russ. 

You know what a good nickname sounds like because you’re a cognizant human. Some nicknames just don’t make sense and are downright disprespectful. I swear on my human life, every single one of them came from each mentioned player’s Basketball-Reference.com page.

Hear me right now: This is going to be so hard for you to believe. That someone can have these nicknames. Strap up. 

Damon Stoudemire - “Little Flying Mouse” 

Okay not bad. Probably the most normal on this list. Damon Stoudemire was small and dunked a lot. I totally get this one, but I think that calling someone a mouse, though maybe not horrible, just isn’t optimal. He was also called “Mighty Mouse” which is great because it’s an oxymoron. He’s small AND strong. But “Little Flying Mouse” is just like saying he’s puny. It even doubles down on the small part. It really wants you to understand how little he was. 

Bill Laimbeer - “The Prince of Darkness”  

Holy hell, it’s just a game. This is so heavy-handed. I certainly understand the sentiment lurking here. Bill Laimbeer was so hated by everyone. But in this instance, we have to sit down and ask ourselves: Were his trespasses so severe that we need to let him SHARE A NAME WITH THE DEVIL? The devil. The evil force of the world. The devil. If this was anywhere other than the NBA, people would say “Dude, alright, that’s a bit much.” This one is so baffling to me. 

Joe Johnson - “Armadillo Cowboy” 

Hey what the hell is this? That’s my initial reaction. For so long, I was so puzzled by this. It makes no sense. I did some research. I’m from Arkansas, so I’ve got a special love for our boy Iso-Joe. Turns out when Joe was at the University of Arkansas, he rushed a frat. While there, the frat dropped him off in the woods of Arkansas and told him to come back to campus in 2 hours with an armadillo. Joe did it, and said “I’m a m*****f****** cowboy.” 

Artis Gilmore - “Late Sleeper” 

Alright. Boy this one is just so blunt it hurts. Can you imagine if your friends took one of your least desirable qualities and just started calling you that? “Bad cook.” “Dirty slob.” “Farter.” This is just such a slap in the face. It’s not so much a nickname as it is just saying what you’re bad at. 

Spencer Haywood - “Driftwood” 

I certainly understand the parallels with Haywood’s last name and his nickname. But “Driftwood”? Can you think of a more useless object? Driftwood is a common poetic symbol of laziness, helplessness, and worthlessness. Driftwood is just nature’s trash. This is a professional athlete and we’re equating him to a piece of driftwood. 

Carmelo Anthony - “Sweet Melon” 

What in the world, dude. This is just so weird and sexual. I don’t understand this. 

Charles Barkley - “The Prince of Pizza” 

Is nothing sacred? This is one of the greatest players to ever play this game, and we’re calling him the “Prince of Pizza.” This sounds like a rejected title for the birthday boy at Chuck E. Cheese. 

Marc Gasol - “Big Burrito” 

The Gasol brothers got a rough shake on this one. This one baffles me. “Big Burrito”. This one bothers me, typically because of the associations our culture has thrown onto the burrito. It’s one of the staple “unhealthy” foods. You see it all the time in cartoons or shows, there’s some slacker who lives in his grandma’s basement with a backwards hat, and he’s got a 3-stack of bean burritos sitting on the coffee table in front of him. There’s nothing intimidating or athletic about a burrito. 

Wilt Chamberlin - “The Load,” “Big Musty” 

I’m not a huge Wilt fan, but this is really weird. “The Load”. That’s a colloquialism for a dookie. They’re calling him a turd. To say nothing of “Big Musty” which is so dehumanizing. The combo attack of the two is especially perplexing. Who called him this? His teammates? Geez. 

Brian Cardinal - “The Custodian,” “The Janitor” 

What’s the opposite of a professional basketball player? Probably a custodian. It goes without saying, that’s a fine profession. But could it be any different from a professional basketball player? Some player acquire nicknames that have to do with their abilities, not their lack of abilities. I feel so bad for Mr. Cardinal. 

Jeff Hornacek - “Horny”

What the. 

Earl Monroe - “Thomas Edison” 

This is not a nickname. This is like Earl Monroe was in 3rd grade and made a club for his friends and made up his own codename. Thomas Edison? Imagine the coworker sitting beside you said “Hey, from now on, I’d like it if you guys called me ‘Henry Ford’. Thanks.” This is a different persons name. Do you understand this? It’s not creative, it’s not even remotely similar to what’s going on, and it’s already been used by an EXTREMELY famous person. You can’t just pick a historical figure and take the name. It would even be different if he went by “Eddy” or even “Edison” to get the same effect. But it’s not. It’s the full name, and it’s ridiculous. 

Reid Belew