The Admiral. The Mayor. Plastic Man. Those are more than just two authority figures and your weird uncle who’s super-into injection molding. They’re also some of the finest examples from a Golden Age of NBA player nicknames that was besieged by a lazy reliance on initials and shortened names and thinking that J-Smoove somehow measures up to The Houdini of the Hardwood.
CP3 is amazing, but Chris Paul’s jersey-number-referencing nickname is not. Carmelo simply dropped the “Car” -- fitting, since he’s probably lost a Fiat’s worth of weight since his Denver days -- but “Melo” is no Microwave (Vinnie Johnson, since he was prone to heating up so quickly), Baby Jordan (super-dunker Harold Miner’s curse/the very reason we remember him), or The Worm (which somehow had nothing to do with Dennis Rodman seeming to have consumed a bottle of mezcal while wearing a wedding dress prior to each game.). Amare Stoudemire isn’t STAT because he puts them up, or at least used to -- it’s because he fancies himself as Standing Tall And Talented. And everyone knows you can’t give yourself a nickname, no matter how hard you tried to make Wolf stick in high school.
Nicknames aren’t totally dead, but the ones with life are held today by dudes whose careers don’t have much in it. Joel Przybilla is the Vanilla Gorilla. He’s white, he’s doofy, and now you’ve heard of him. Former Bucks big man Jon Brockman went by the Brockness Monster, mainly because rumors of on-court sightings seemed like they could only ever be that. 90-year-old-looking journeyman Brian Cardinal also isn’t in the League this year, but he’ll always be the guy who cleaned the floors diving for loose balls as The Custodian. It’s unclear if they also made him pick the gum off the bottom of arena seats.
With all that in mind, we now present five NBA players and the nicknames they should definitely accept.
Blake Griffin: The Dunk Driver
So Blake Griffin dunks a lot. And he's in a lot of Kia commercials where he tells his younger self not to wear jean shorts. And he once dunked over a Kia Optima (kinda) driven by Baron Davis while an entire chorus sang an R. Kelly song. So there you go.
James Harden: The Flyatollah
The Rockets' shooting guard has a beard that would've made even Ayatollah Khomeini be like, "Damn, son. That's a pretty serious collection of facial hair showcasing your high status in society, sexual virility, and masculinity. Now just try and get your assist-to-turnover ratio above 1.5."
J.R. Smith: The Handbag
A clutch is a bag that girls bring out when they think they'll be doing shots. The Knicks' J.R. Smith definitely does tons of shots, and -- for once in his career -- has been the other definition of clutch, hitting game-winning shots not filled with cinnamon whiskey on multiple occasions this year. But he's also gaudy, and will likely go out of style within a season or two. Oh, fickle fashion!
Chase Budinger: White Flight
As you probably gathered from his first name being Chase, the Timberwolves' small forward is a white dude. And judging from his inclusion in last year's slam dunk contest and his reputed 40+ inch vertical, he's got hops. Plus he's from the tony San Diego suburb of La Jolla, which has three Starbucks, a Jamba Juice, AND a Cold Stone.
Jrue Holiday: So Nice
[To the beat of a certain Madonna song. No, not Borderline.] If we took a Holiday/Took some time to celebrate (the fact that the Sixers' point guard is now an All-Star)/Just one day out of life (in which he dropped 33 and 13 on Toronto back in January)/He would be, he would be (named) So Nice.