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The List: Best hoops
nickname of all-time
From the Page 2 mailbag
1. "Magic" -- Earvin Johnson (129 letters)
First of all, without any association to Earvin Johnson, the nickname Magic is still a great nickname. In terms of basketball, this nickname conveys a sort of "wizardry" on the court, i.e., the nickname holder does things in the game of basketball that have never been seen before, that strain the imagination, that may inspire mimicking and that may never be duplicated. Secondly, now associating the nickname Magic with Earvin Johnson, the nickname permeated Johnson's life, in the sense that only his immediate family (I'm making an assumption here) refers to him as Earvin, to the rest of the world he is simply Magic; that, in a sense, makes the nickname Magic timeless. To me when a nickname has both of those qualities, the essential qualities of a good nickname along with an ageless component, it exceeds all other nicknames and should be revered as ... Magic.
Phoenix Rarely does an individual's true first name virtually disappear from existence because a nickname fits so well, but Magic just seems like what his mother should have put on his birth certificate. Magic exemplifies not only Johnson's game, but his personality as well.
2. "Human Highlight Reel" -- Dominique Wilkins (115 letters)
Topeka, Kan. There isn't a player who's more a personification of his nickname than 'Nique. He was a windmill-dunk-in-some-clown's-grill waiting to happen. He gets no respect; they didn't put him on the NBA's Top 50 players of all-time list, and he can't even get on the a best nickname list? He's always denied. No respect. Ridiculous.
East Providence, R.I.
3. "The Microwave" -- Vinnie Johnson (69 letters)
Off the Bad Boys teams of the late 1980s-early '90s Detroit Pistons, Vinnie Johnson had the coolest nickname of all, by far. A sixth man who could come off the bench and "heat up" in seconds, he became the embodiment of timely clutch play for the Pistons, although he had to always reside behind some of the other big names on the team, such as Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, John Salley, and Dennis Rodman (not to mention coach Chuck Daly). Give the guy his due now: There aren't too many nicknames more unusual or more fitting for anybody than that of the Microwave himself.
Cleveland Not only was it clever ("he heats up in a hurry"), but it was also proven to be true time and time again, often in the most crucial of playoff situations, where he'd step off the bench and light up double digits before the next commercial break.
4. "Round Mound of Rebound" -- Charles Barkley (65 letters)
My choice for the best basketball nickname is the Round Mound of Rebound, a very fitting nickname for the great Mr. Charles Barkley. One poetic phrase to describe his physical and on-court presence and a funny expression to describe a funny guy!
5. "The Dream" -- Hakeem Olajuwon (62 letters)
Here we have a big man that dominated on both sides of the court with a combination of power and finesse. He is the all-time leader in blocked shots and the creator of one of the most prolific shots in NBA history. Show me another center that can consistently knock down 15-foot fallaway jumpers and then run the court, bang in the low post, and make his opponent look like a fool when his shot is 12 rows in the stands; and do it all with a smile on his face. That is a dream.
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
6. "Dr. J" -- Julius Erving (58 letters)
"The Doctor" because it was a nickname given to him by an old high school friend of his and it stuck with him throughout his entire college and professional careers. It symbolized what he was on the b-ball court: a surgeon who operated with unmatched precision and professionalism.
7. "Air Jordan" -- Michael Jordan (51 letters)
Scotch Plains, N.J.
8. "The Answer" -- Allen Iverson (49 letters)
This by far is the best name because Allen Iverson was the answer to all of the Sixers' questions. Questions like; When are we going to be good again? When will we have another MVP? When will we win another championship? Well, Allen Iverson is The Answer to those questions and many more to come, because he plays with heart and talent.
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
9. "The Iceman" -- George Gervin (49 letters)
This is one of the harder choices your readers' polls have presented. I grew up in Minnesota without pro hoops, so I latched on to national stars. Dr. J and Magic were better ballplayers. Pistol Pete could flat out score. And Michael will always be his Airness. But for pure basketball names, the one I could never shake was the Iceman. I looked for his stats before any others in the morning paper. I had to wait a few years to use his name when we played on the local courts because my older neighbor had already claimed "The Iceman" as his own. The Iceman cometh and the Iceman goeth, but the nickname "the Iceman" will forever stayeth.
10. "Larry Legend" -- Larry Bird (48 letters)
Because from the first moment you saw him you knew you were watching history being made even on the storied history of Boston's parqueed floor and you knew that you'd be telling your grandkids about this Legend for decades to come.
Indianapolis Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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