Harvey Frommer / Players
What's in an NBA Nick-Name? Part IV, E-H - Part V, I-L
*Harvey Frommer on Sports
What's in an NBA Nick-Name? Part IV, A-D
Once upon a time in all sports, nick-names were the thing. Some came from the physical look of athletes, others from their place of origin, others still from their accomplishments on the court. Nowadays, NBA nick-names are not as colorful and definitely much less in evidence. Herewith, a trip down memory lane on a nomenclature ride.
THE ADMIRAL Former San Antonio Spur star David Robinson was called this because of his Naval Academy roots and leadership skills on the court.
ALL-WORLD Lloyd Free, National Basketball Association free soul, who learned his basketball on the sidewalks of New York, gave himself this nickname. Free was a little man in a world of giants who considered his "rainbow shot," which went high in the air and down at the basket, worthy of the nickname he dreamed up.
BAD BOYS The rough and tough style of play of the Detroit Pistons coached by Chuck Daly in the late 1980s-early '90s that included Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, John Salley, and Dennis Rodman earned the team that name.
BARON, THE A strong-minded individual whose Kentucky teams rank among the greatest in the history of college basketball, Adolph Rupp's nickname came from his imperial manner and his record of success. "I know I have plenty of enemies," he once said, "but I'd rather be the most hated winning coach in the country than the most popular losing one." Rupp's teams made more appearances in the NCAA tournament than any other coach's; he produced more than two dozen All Americans.
"BIG DIPPER" His full name was Wilton Norman Chamberlain. He was born in 1936 in Philadelphia and grew up to be 7-1 and 275 pounds. Voted in as one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978. His nickname was the Big Dipper, and he named his Los Angeles mansion Ursa Major, the astronomic term for the Big Dipper constellation. There was a retractable roof over Chamberlains bed - Big Dipper watching Big Dipper.
BIG "E" At 6'9" and 230 pounds, Elvin Hayes was an intimidating performer in the NBA. The former University of Houston All-American, a fine shooter and rebounder, earned his nickname for his size, performance, and appeal.
BIG FELLA Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had this nickname because of his size. Others were Cap and The Captain for his leadership.