Athletes pick up nicknames in their career all the time, it’s quite common. When someone has an extraordinary dunk or they dazzle millions with their antics on the court, whatever the reason, a nickname is given. Well not all of the players on this list made it because of a nickname, some of these names were given to them by their parents. Just read on and you’ll see what we mean.
Currently Carlos Boozer is playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). He’s also a member of Team USA, where he won an Olympic bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He’s also a two-time NBA All-Star who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Just goes to show that funny last names won’t derail you from success.
Dionte Christmas, man what a name. Christmas has played more overseas then he ever has in the NBA. After going undrafted in the 2009 NBA draft, Christmas joined the Philadelphia 76ers/New Jersey Nets combined team for the Orlando Summer League and the Los Angeles Clippers for the Las Vegas Summer League. Later he signed with the 76ers but was later waived and signed with Hapoel Afula of Israel for the rest of the 2009–10 season. From there he played for a mix of Russian, French, and Italian teams.
Get this, Ekpe is just a nickname. His full name is actually Ekpedeme Friday Udoh, what a mouthful. Did we mention he’s got a 7’4 1⁄2″ wingspan, and was named the Big 12 Conference’s leading shot blocker during the 2009–10 season. The man’s pretty impressive.
Thank goodness it’s just a nickname. Meet Lafayette “Fat” Lever but still, why would you want to be known professionally as Fat Lever? I mean, he was one of the NBA’s most complete players, considering he’s the only NBA player so far to average over 13 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals per game for his whole career.
Please don’t ask us to pronounce his name cause I can guarantee you, we can’t. Giannis is a Greek pro baller for the Milwaukee Bucks, with Nigerian descent. Maybe that explains the name? We’re sure that the play by play announcers have fun saying his name all the time. Or maybe not.
Nope, so not a made up name, we’re serious. Shammgod played for the Washington Wizards during 1997–98 after being drafted by them in the 2nd round (17th pick) of the 1997 NBA draft. He also played in the Chinese Basketball Association for several teams, including the Zhejiang Cyclones and Shanxi Yujun. He’s also played professionally in Poland and Saudi Arabia.
His nickname is simply, Gift. And for good measure, could you imagine saying his full name repeatedly? No way. Forget the name for a sec cause he’s quite the intimidating shot-blocker on defense and a pretty powerful rebounder on both ends of the floor.
What’s that saying, a city so good you named you twice? (We’re talking about NYC of course). In case though, we’re actually talking about a person…with the same first and last name. Don’t let the name put you off, his size and athleticism dominate the court.
I know, having a legend like Magic Johnson on this list almost seems wrong but come on, his name is Magic! Okay fine, it’s just a nickname but almost no one knows him by his actual first name…Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. Johnson earned the nickname from a sports writer when he was just 15 years old, he was a sophomore playing for Everett High School, and recorded a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds and 16 assists.
Metta World Peace
All right then….World Peace gained a reputation as one of the league’s premier defenders when he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2004, and he was also named an NBA All-Star and earned All-NBA honors. He has a bit of an eccentric and outspoken behavior. Perhaps that explains the name change, as his name was actually Ron Artest before he legally changed his name in September 2011. Hmm.
When you’re done laughing, ‘Pooh’ is a nickname. His name is Jerome Richardson and the nickname was given to him by his grandmother who thought he looked like ‘Winnie the Pooh’. That’s actually quite precious.
No, his parents nor did he eat a bunch of spinach and declare his name from that moment on as Popeye. Actually, his mother chose the nickname when they got back from the hospital and Popeye was on TV. His real name is Ronald Jerome Jones but let’s just stick to Popeye, its cooler.
Not a nickname any pro baller wants to pick up but Floyd did. He got the nickname “Sleepy” way back when he was playing baseball in the fourth grade, and a spectator yelled “Get that kid out of the game. He’s sleeping.” We’re glad he switched to basketball though, cause he was darn good point guard for the New Jersey Nets.
This nickname has quite the interesting backstory. So he got the nickname “Slick” because he was actually one of the first players to shave his head, which was unusual at the time. He did play from 1973–1979 so it makes sense when all anyone wanted was a big afro or long luscious locks.
During his playing career, Rollins had the nickname “The Intimidator” but we’re pretty sure the Tree nickname came to life considering he was a 7-foot-1-inch 275 pound center.
Yeah, his full name is actually Uwe Konstantin Blab. Does that help? We didn’t think so. The retried German pro finished his NBA career averages of 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per game at the center position.
Totally a real name. Spanouslis is a Greek player for Olympiacos Piraeus of the Greek Basket League and the EuroLeague. We should mention that his nicknames include Kill Bill, V-Span, and MVP (“Most Vassilis Player”).
World B. Free
Probably the best name out there. Turns out he got the name from his days in Brooklyn, a friend nicknamed him “World” because of his 44-inch vertical leap and 360 degree dunks. He is well known for taking high risk shots and playing flamboyantly, there’s no denying that. Officially on December 8, 1981, a day before he turned 28, he legally changed his first name to World. His birth given first name was…Lloyd.