Nicknames are sometimes a way of expressing fondness or adoration for someone, as well as a candid way of simply finding amusement in clowning someone based on their traits. The way the nickname strikes a chord with others shows how much adoration, amusement or awe that the person instills in others.
In the NBA, there are a ton of vivid and colourful characters. Personalities are abundant and it is not difficult to spot players that you can identify with and players whom you scratch your head for.
As though part of NBA heritage, the use of nicknames by journalists, media, fans, players and sometimes coaches alike, is stayed with the league from its early beginnings.
While some nicknames are flattering and complimentary, others are joking salutations. On occasions, it might even be mocking or surprising revelations.
Let us take a look at ten of the most funny nicknames in the modern day NBA.
Stephen Curry – “Baby-Faced Assassin”
Need we say more? Two-time league Most Valuable Player, Stephen Curry, is perhaps the most suitable person to inherit such a flattering nickname. His boyish charm and cheerful demeanor, coupled with his extremely high emotional quotient and likeability, Curry personifies the baby-face title very well. The former Three-Point Shoot-Out winner is not only one of the most prolific shooters that the NBA has seen, he is also one of the youngest to achieve such status. Curry is already hitting celestial numbers, topping the record books in shooting and is only going to get better. Baby-Faced Assassin? He sure is.
Danilo Gallinari – “The Rooster”
The 2008 NBA draft sixth overall pick has Italian flair to his nickname. Affectionately called Gallo, or rooster in Italian, the natural power forward had sported a mohawk hairstyle on some occasions to be in sync with his animal nickname.
The formal Italian league Most Valuable Player does have some spice to his plays and attacks with a bang on the court, just like a rooster calling out full of gust
The origin of the rooster came from an obscure story. Danilo Gallinari came from the land of pasta and olive oil. A small, cozy farming town that boasts the peacefulness of just 1,000 to 2,000 folks, Graffignana is 40 kilometres to the southeastern corner of Milan, Italy.
Roosters ran around the family farm that Gallinari grew up on. Perhaps its his mohawk hairstyle, perhaps it’s his cock-sure attitude or perhaps it’s his confident stance, Gallinari was bestowed with the nickname the Rooster that stayed with him even after he joined the Denver Nuggets.
Having fought to regain his NBA form after his early injury in his New York Knicks days as a rookie, Gallinari has indeed shown that he can be that big Rooster that delivers his impact when the time calls for it, just like how the Rooster will do his morning calls in a timely fashion.
The formal Italian league Most Valuable Player does have some spice to his plays and attacks with a bang on the court, just like a rooster calling out full of gusto.
Marc Gasol – “The Big Burrito”
Those who started noticing Marc Gasol only after he won Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 would be scratching their heads to this alias.
Marc is indeed tall but he had a different body type in high school. He was more rotund, less than ideal in the body fat department and the body mass index section.
The Big Burrito is perhaps coined due to the foodie persona or the seemingly obese outlook of Marc in his younger years. Since playing in the NBA, Marc Gasol has established himself as an elite playmaking and versatile center and, thankfully, is rarely associated with this comical nickname henceforth.
Draymond Green – “The Dancing Bear”
Not as flattering a nickname to have, but it definitely sounds better than Donkey. Draymond is often revered for his defensive intensity, mental toughness and ability to make plays.
This less than macho nickname came perhaps due to the threatening charges down the court that resembles something like a water buffalo on skates. He’s head-on power in transition, like a slightly controlled version of LeBron James or a thoughtful charging grizzly bear after his food.
Mario Hezonja – “Super Mario”
Those who have seen the rare heroics of Mario Hezonja in highlight films will agree that this low-key shooting guard/small forward has the makings of a reliable sixth man or contributing starter.
The fifth pick from the 2015 NBA draft has showed flashes of brilliance and versatility in his short NBA career.
Bringing his Croatian wonder, and combining big man post play with guard handling skills, Mario is a natural team player and occasional spark to the offense. Throw in some fast paced plays and you can see why the catchy nickname of Super Mario stuck.
Greg Monroe – “Moose”
Some might know the comical nickname that Greg Monroe has. Few really knew that it was given back when one of his classmates at Helen Cox High School of Harvey, Los Angeles, wrote it on a chalkboard. The mischievous friend would later include that moniker on a poster of Greg Monroe that he brought with him to Georgetown University.
Subsequently, with the playful mention by Greg’s former Hoyas teammate, DaJuan Summers, the alias followed Greg into the NBA when both players were reunited as members of the Detroit Pistons.
Nikola Jokic – “Joker”
Who would have thought that a second round NBA draft pick would be so integral to the Denver Nuggets’ blistering offensive rise.
Like the Joker in a pack of cards, Nikola is an absolute phenom with unparalleled court vision as the starting center. He frequently surprises fans with his unexpected lobs inside, crazy overhead passes and unbelievably accurate laser dishes to the open team mate.
Coincidentally, the Joker has his flair for humour as well, being a fun teammate and cheeky big man to have around the team.
Andre Drummond – “Big Penguin”
Andre Drummond is a traditional center whose niche and place of residence on the court belongs beneath the basket. His dominance and power packed presence is a stark contrast to the child-like nickname he has.
The origin of this nickname, Big Penguin, comes from the revelation of Andre’s favorite animal — a penguin. His love extends to penguin movies, too. “March of the Penguins,” “Happy Feet” and “Happy Feet 2” are Andres’s top three all-time favorites. For as physically imposing and masculine as Drummond might appear, there’s an almost child-like quality to him that reminds those around that he really is just a young chap who loves basketball and penguins.
Evan Fournier – “Never Google”
This title bestowed upon Evan is uniquely amusing and scarily medical in nature. “Never Google” has reference to the grotesque nature of what Evan’s surname means in a rare medical condition.
Fournier Gangrene is a rare narcotizing infection of the genitals found most often in elderly men. To say that it is a nauseating sight is an understatement. Basically, the whole penis area turns horrible colors and falls off, which often leads to worse pain and the patient dies.
No wonder Evan’s nickname is giving everyone the warning not to look it up.
Brandon Ingram – “Tiny Dog”
Unfortunate or cute, it depends on which side you stand. An NBA sophomore drafted in 2016, the Duke alumnus is known for his lanky physique, crafty ways around the rim and fast developing prowess on both ends of the floor. Weighing just 190 pounds, Brandon came into the league being an undersized small forward.
How he got that Tiny Dog nickname? The Lakers, the ball club that drafted Brandon at number two, have the tradition of rookie performances. After much deliberation with his camp, he decided to come in with the most unexpected and adorable attire reminiscent of a kindergarten party.
Brandon literally went to the performance in a onesy suit that doubles as a fancy dress Halloween dog costume. He did make an grand entrance with that look and his heart-felt rendition of a pop song that most would prefer not to listen to.
Since he was a skinny rookie in a dog costume, his teammates started calling him Tiny Dog. Not the most formidable title, but definitely a chuckle-worthy one.