30 Nicknames Athletes Wished You Never Knew About
Growing up, everyone had a friend who had a nickname that he or she absolutely despised. Everyone else got a kick out of calling them that, but the friend — who may have been you — would get all riled up at the mention of the nickname.
Well, athletes are no different, and many of them have picked up insulting nicknames during their careers. These bad nicknames could have been given to them by fans, the media or even teammates and could be due to a variety of reasons. An athlete’s appearance or style of play are the most common avenues for these monikers, while personality or what they do off the field are other common paths.
Let's look back at 30 of the most disrespectful nicknames for athletes and how they came to be.
30. Scottie Pippen – No Tippin’ Pippen
Career: 17 seasons (1987-2004)
Stats: 16.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG
Other nicknames: Pip, Robin
* Note: All stats are current through February 2023.
Bottom Line: Scottie Pippen
This nickname wasn’t created via Pippen’s on-court play but rather his off-court frugality, according to some restaurant workers. Despite making over $100 million during his NBA career, Pippen was known for leaving bad tips, if any, at various Chicago establishments. There’s even a rumor that waiters, upon seeing Pippen enter a restaurant or seated at a table, would play Rock Paper Scissors with the loser being forced to wait on him.
Pippen’s stinginess when it came to giving tips was validated by none other than Charles Barkley who claimed that both Pippen and Michael Jordan were some of the cheapest people he knew.
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29. Patrick Mahomes – Fatrick
Career: 6 seasons (2017-present)
Stats: 24,241 YDS, 192 TD, 66.3 CMP%
Other nicknames: Showtime, Mahomeboy
Bottom Line: Patrick Mahomes
Before he was a record-setting quarterback in the NFL, Patrick Mahomes enjoyed his Texas barbecue while growing up in the Lone Star State. That continued when he stayed in state and went to Texas Tech where Mahomes was, in a word, “thicker” than what we see of him with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Thus, the nickname of Fatrick Mahomes was born, and his NFL teammates still kid him about the nickname from time to time, even though he’s slimmed down.
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28. Anthony Davis – Street Clothes
Career: 11 seasons (2012-present)
Stats: 23.9 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.3 BPG
Other nicknames: AD, The Brow
Bottom Line: Anthony Davis
Through 10 NBA seasons, Davis has missed more than 175 games due to injury or the equivalent of more than two full seasons. He’s never played more than 75 games in a year and always seems to have nagging injuries and ailments that keep him out of action for a week or two.
Thus, he’s often on the bench wearing street clothes instead of his NBA gear, which earned him this nickname from Charles Barkley. For the record, Barkley played in more than 125 more games through his first 10 NBA seasons than Davis did.
27. Brandon Belt – The Baby Giraffe
Career: 12 seasons (2011-present)
Stats: .261 BA, 175 HR, 584 RBI
Other nicknames: Sparky
Bottom Line: Brandon Belt
Belt is a first baseman by trade but was forced to play some outfield as a rookie in 2011. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he isn’t exactly graceful to begin with, so when thrust into an unfamiliar position, hilarity ensued.
While tracking a fly ball during a game versus the Brewers, Duane Kuiper, who is an announcer for the San Francisco Giants, described Belt as looking like a “Baby Giraffe.” Belt caught the ball but did so clumsily, and even after he shifted to his natural position of first base, the nickname stuck.
26. Doug Martin – Muscle Hamster
Career: 7 seasons (2012-18)
Stats: 5,356 RYDS, 32 TD, 4.1 YPC
Other nicknames: Dougernaut
Bottom Line: Doug Martin
While Martin, himself, preferred the nickname of Dougernaut, everyone not named Doug Martin preferred to call him the Muscle Hamster. The name originated in college when Martin was dating a gymnast who was diminutive but powerful, like Simone Biles.
Martin’s friend jokingly called the girlfriend a “muscle hamster,” which didn’t sit well with Martin, who’s no giant himself at 5-foot-9 and 210 pounds. The running back then became riled up, and the friend thought that was even funnier, so he started referring to Martin and his girlfriend as “two little muscle hamsters just running around.” The nickname stuck ever since, much to the chagrin of Doug “Muscle Hamster” Martin.
25. Artis Gilmore – Rigor Artis
Career: 17 seasons (1971-88)
Stats: 18.8 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 2.4 BPG
Other nicknames: The A-Train, Late Sleeper
Bottom Line: Artis Gilmore
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Artis Gilmore were contemporaries who could do everything on a court that you wanted your center to do. They also played seemingly forever and retired ranking first and second, respectively, in games played (ABA + NBA).
However, while Abdul-Jabbar took up yoga during his career and aged gracefully, the same can’t be said for Gilmore. He was once one of the NBA’s premier shot-blockers but could barely move once he got into his mid-30s. That earned him the dubious nickname of "Rigor Artis" as a play off of "rigor mortis," signifying that Gilmore could barely move in his advanced age.
24. Ryan Fitzpatrick - Fitztragic
Career: 17 seasons (2005-2021)
Stats: 34,990 YDS, 223 TD, 60.7 CMP%
Other nicknames: Fitzmagic
Bottom Line: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Some games he’s Fitzmagic. Some games he’s Fitztragic. And during a Monday Night Football Game in 2018, he was both in the same game. Fitzpatrick played with the Buccaneers at the time, facing the Steelers, and somehow threw interceptions on three straight pass attempts, one of which was a pick-six. The QB had been rolling to that point of the season with a 9:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but Fitztragic reared its ugly head.
Then, in the second half of that game, Fitzmagic appeared as he rallied the Bucs from a 17-point deficit. He led three straight scoring drives and threw two TDs but came up just short as the Bucs fell by three points. But on that fateful night, fans were treated to both Ryan Fitztragic and Ryan Fitzmagic.
23. Louis Oosthuizen – Shrek
Career: 20 years (2002-present)
Stats: 14 W, 1 Major Championship
Other nicknames: Louis
Bottom Line: Louis Oosthuizen
Some athlete nicknames are given due to playing styles or certain habits, while others are simply handed out due to physical appearances. Louis Oosthuizen being called "Shrek" is definitely based on appearance, and you can see why. He has a gap-tooth grin reminiscent of the animated character, and it’s a nickname Oosthuizen has acknowledged if not embraced.
Fortunately for him, it’s not the only thing he’s known for, as he won the 2010 Open Championship. It’s also not the only nickname for the South African as Louis, itself, is a nickname — short for his real name, which is Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen.
22. Fred Taylor – Fragile Freddy
Career: 13 seasons (1998-2010)
Stats: 11,695 RYDS, 74 TD, 4.6 YPC
Other nicknames: None that we know of
Bottom Line: Fred Taylor
Fragile Freddy Taylor was a nickname that developed following a three-year span from 1999 to 2001. Taylor missed 23 of 48 games, and some media members and fans thought Taylor lacked the toughness to play through injuries. But starting in 2002, the nickname vanished as Taylor started 46 straight games through the 2004 season and averaged over 113 scrimmage yards per game over that stretch.
By the time Taylor retired in 2011, and after amassing the 15th-most rushing yards in NFL history, the nickname completely disappeared, and all anyone talked about was his consistency on the field. Too bad they never came up with a new nickname to match.
21. Joe Barry Carroll – Joe Barely Cares
Career: 10 seasons (1980-84, 1985-91)
Stats: 17.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.6 BPG
Other nicknames: Just Barely Carroll
Bottom Line: Joe Barry Carroll
Carroll was an outlier in the 1980s, as he was a cerebral player without a brash personality. He also had a stoic demeanor, which led to his infamous nickname since some thought he didn’t really care about basketball and was just playing for the money.
But those who were paying attention to his facial expressions obviously weren’t paying attention to his play, as he was one of the NBA’s best centers in the early- and mid-80s. Through his first six years in the league, Carroll averaged 20.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while making one All-Star team. But Carroll’s lasting imprint on the NBA is helping ignite one of the league’s greatest dynasties. After all, he was part of a draft day trade, which sent both Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to the Celtics in 1980.
20. Russell Wilson – Robot Russell
Career: 11 seasons (2012-present)
Stats: 40,583 YDS, 308 TD, 64.6 CMP%
Other nicknames: DangeRuss, Mr. Unlimited
Bottom Line: Russell Wilson
If you’ve heard one Russell Wilson interview, then you’ve heard every Russell Wilson interview. He never says anything inflammatory, uses lots of cliches, has the same tone throughout and would always end with “Go Hawks” — even in a more recent interview after he had started playing for the Broncos. Thus, some fans and media members thought that he almost sounded robotic, as opposed to Seahawks teammates like Richard Sherman or Marshawn Lynch who would drop memorable quotes.
From an organizational perspective, Wilson says exactly what the team would want their franchise QB to say, and Wilson is well aware of that. But others want more of his personality in his interviews, and until they get it, they will continue to call him Robot Russell.
19. Darko Milicic – Human Victory Cigar
Career: 10 seasons (2003-12)
Stats: 6.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG
Other nicknames: N/A
Bottom Line: Darko Milicic
Every NBA team has a Human Victory Cigar in that he’s a player who subs into the game only when the game’s result is well out of reach. And despite being the No. 2 overall pick in his draft, Darko Milicic was that player for Detroit Pistons teams from 2003 to 2006. The Pistons went to back-to-back Finals in Milicic’s first two seasons, so they beat lots of teams. And Milicic would seemingly only make his way onto the court for the final few minutes of those games, making him probably the most well-known Human Victory Cigar.
A spin-off of this nickname is the 30/30/30 player. Those are the players who check into a game only when their team is either up by 30 points or down by 30 points, and they only play for 30 seconds.
18. Mike Hargrove – The Human Rain Delay
Career: 12 seasons (1974-85)
Stats: .290 BA, 80 HR, 686 RBI
Other nicknames: N/A
Bottom Line: Mike Hargrove
Hargrove was deliberate both before stepping into the batter’s box and when facing a pitcher. He had an entire routine of equipment adjustments and readjustments that drove opponents and fans crazy. Then, when he finally settled into the batter’s box, Hargrove had a keen batting eye in which he would take lots of pitches and foul off just as many. He twice led the AL in walks and had the batting control to foul off strikes that he didn’t like the location of to wait for a pitch that he did like.
Taking all of that into account, Hargrove was nicknamed the Human Rain Delay for his ability to extend a game’s length all on his own.
17. Pervis Ellison – Out of Service Pervis
Career: 10 seasons (1989-98, 1999-2001)
Stats: 9.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.6 BPG
Other nicknames: Never Nervous Pervis
Bottom Line: Pervis Ellison
While at the University of Louisville, Ellison led the Cardinals to a national championship, and he was named the Final Four’s MOP as a freshman. That earned the calm and cool Ellison the nickname of “Never Nervous Pervis” for his ability to perform in high-pressure situations.
However, after being the first overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft, Ellison was known more for always being hobbled by injuries. Through his first 10 NBA seasons, he played in just 55 percent of games. Thus, critics used Ellison’s unusual first name for a new, backhanded nickname: Out of Service Pervis.
16. Lyle Alzado – Three Mile Lyle
Career: 15 seasons (1971-85)
Stats: 112 SACK, 20 FR, 1 TD
Other nicknames: N/A
Bottom Line: Lyle Alzado
Alzado’s brother once said, "Lyle used football as a way of expressing his anger at the world and at the way he grew up.”
That anger was then cranked up even more when Alzado began using steroids during his career, which contributed to roid rage on the field. The NFL implemented a “no throwing helmets” rule after Alzado did that to an opponent one game, but off the field, he was known as being gentle, caring and mild-mannered.
This split personality of Alzado from on the field versus off the field earned him the nickname of Three Mile Lyle from Hall of Fame teammate Howie Long. The nickname is in reference to the nuclear power plant explosion that occurred on Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979. Everything was calm and cool one moment and then on fire the next moment, just like when dealing with Lyle Alzado.
15. Russell Westbrook – Westbrick
Career: 15 seasons (2008-present)
Stats: 22.5 PPG, 8.4 APG, 7.3 RPG
Other nicknames: The Brodie, Russ, Mr. Triple Double
Bottom Line: Russell Westbrook
This nickname is pretty obvious, as Russell Westbrook will never be confused for Steph Curry when it comes to shooting. He’s never reached 35 percent on 3-point attempts, which is considered league average, in any season of his NBA career, and he’s also led the league in missed field goals four different times.
This nickname likely would never have flown on the radar if not for Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic who made it popular by tweeting it in 2019. Blazers fans then caught on and piled on by bringing posters and props whenever Westbri … Westbrook visited Portland.
14. Lance Berkman – Fat Elvis
Career: 15 seasons (1999-2013)
Stats: .293 BA, 366 HR, 1,234 RBI
Other nicknames: Big Puma
Bottom Line: Lance Berkman
The longtime Astro preferred the nickname of “Big Puma” because he said, just like a puma, he is agile, sleek and athletic. But everyone not named Berkman thought the "Fat Elvis" moniker was more appropriate because of the obvious resemblance to the King of Rock 'n' Roll in his later years.
At 6-foot-1 and a (generous) 220 pounds, Berkman certainly didn’t have the chiseled physiques of fellow Astros’ teammates Jeff Bagwell or Craig Biggio. And toward the end of his career, even Berkman would have admitted that the puma nickname, and especially the sleek part, didn’t fit as well as Fat Elvis.
13. Armen Gilliam – Charmin Gilliam
Career: 13 seasons (1987-2000)
Stats: 13.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 APG
Other nicknames: The Hammer, Black Hole
Bottom Line: Armen Gilliam
Gilliam was from a tough, blue-collar city near Pittsburgh and had bulging biceps on his 6-foot-9, 230-pound frame. But despite looking like Tarzan, some say he played more like Jane and never reached his full potential because he was more of a finesse player.
Thus, he earned the nickname of "Charmin," as he was seen as soft as the toilet paper brand. Some have attributed Charles Barkley with coming up with that nickname, but Barkley has denied it. However, there’s no denying that there was bad blood between the two after they played together with the 76ers.
12. Mark Schlereth – Stink
Career: 12 seasons (1989-2000)
Stats: 140 GS, 2x Pro Bowler, 3x Super Bowl Champion
Other nicknames: N/A
Bottom Line: Mark Schlereth
Every player in the history of football was likely eligible for the “Stink” nickname at some point during their playing days, but Schlereth getting the moniker goes deeper than beyond the smell of his pads. During a preseason game in 1990, Schlereth was sitting on the bench with the rest of the 300-pound offensive linemen, and he decided to relieve himself. He just didn’t feel the need to go to the locker room or even have some trainers shield him with towels, as he just went then and there in his football gear.
From there, he just decided to urinate on himself anytime he had to go for the rest of his 12-year career, which disgusted teammates (and surely equipment managers). And with Schlereth being low on electrolytes during these times, the stench was quite strong, and thus a nickname was born.
11. Michael Jordan – Floor Jordan
Career: 15 seasons (1984-93, 1995-98, 2001-03)
Stats: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG
Other nicknames: Air Jordan, MJ, The G.O.A.T., His Airness
Bottom Line: Michael Jordan
The first Air Jordan sneakers were created in 1984, and Jordan only added to his gravity-defying mystique by winning back-to-back NBA Slam Dunk contests in the 1980s. But when he had his second NBA comeback with the Wizards in 2001, Jordan was 38 years old and not the high-flying act he was in his younger days.
Jordan had 89 dunks during his last year in Chicago (1997-98) but had just 41 combined dunks during his two years in D.C. (2001-03). Thus, with his game having changed so much, he was jokingly given the nickname of Floor Jordan to add to the dozen or so other nicknames he had accumulated during his career.
10. Colin Montgomerie – Mrs. Doubtfire
Career: 35 years (1987-present)
Stats: 54 W, Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame
Other nicknames: Monty
Bottom Line: Colin Montgomerie
One of Robin Williams’ finest performances was in the 1993 film "Mrs. Doubtfire," in which he dresses up as an elderly woman with a British accent — and many people thought that longtime British golfer Colin Montgomerie resembled Mrs. Doubtfire in appearance. Obviously, the comparison wasn’t meant as a compliment, and Montgomerie’s surly reputation certainly didn’t endear him to fans, nor did his rotund figure.
However, Montgomerie, who has been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, lost over 40 pounds recently, so those “Mrs. Doubtfire!” shrieks from the gallery have died down.
9. Jared Gaither – Big Lazy
Career: 5 seasons (2007-09, 2011-12)
Stats: 37 GS, 1 FR
Other nicknames: N/A
Bottom Line: Jared Gaither
Gaither’s reputation was first earned in college when academic problems made him ineligible for the 2007 season. Thus, he entered his name into the NFL’s supplemental draft where he was taken by the Ravens. When he was motivated, Gaither was one of the best tackles in the NFL, but when the motivation wasn’t there, “Big Lazy” reared its head.
Gaither was motivated enough in his first few NFL seasons to earn a $24.6 million contract from the Chargers in 2012. But after he got paid, Gaither subbed out, and Big Lazy tagged in, as he would play in just five games after signing that big deal. He was often on the sideline with what he called back spasms, but the Chargers didn’t buy it and actually questioned the severity of his injuries. The Chargers grew tired of Big Lazy and cut him just one year into his four-year deal. Unsurprisingly, Gaither didn’t make an effort to find another team and played his last game at 26 years old.
8. Jason Kidd – Ason Kidd
Career: 19 seasons (1994-2013)
Stats: 12.6 PPG, 8.7 APG, 6.3 RPG
Other nicknames: J-Kidd
Bottom Line: Jason Kidd
It’s somewhat miraculous that when Jason Kidd retired in 2013, he had the third-most made 3-pointers in NBA history. What makes that amazing is that, in his early years in the league, Jason was nicknamed “Ason” because he had no J. He shot just 32 percent on 3Ps through his first three years in the NBA, despite the league having a shorter 3P line than it has now.
But Kidd clearly spent hundreds of hours in the gym, and he knocked down over 40 percent of his 3-pointers later in his career in Dallas.
7. Kiko Alonso – Goldilocks
Career: 6 seasons (2013, 2015-19)
Stats: 588 TKL, 10 INT, 7 FF
Other nicknames: N/A
Bottom Line: Kiko
It wasn’t the blonde, flowing locks that saddled Alonso with this nickname but rather a forgettable night in college. After Oregon’s Spring Game in 2011, Alonso celebrated his performance in the exhibition by drinking tequila, and lots of it, at a party. He then made his way home by walking but couldn’t get in his door and started pounding on it. However, the door he thought was to his home was actually to a woman who then called the police. The woman, completely terrified, then fled her home as Alonso broke in and proceeded to pass out.
When the police arrived and searched the house, they found Alonso sound asleep in bed … just like Goldilocks.
6. Magic Johnson – Tragic Johnson
Career: 13 seasons (1979-91, 1996)
Stats: Stat 1, Stat 2, Stat 3
Other nicknames: Magic, The Magic Man
Bottom Line: Magic Johnson
Even the greatest point guard in NBA history isn’t immune to a humiliating nickname. "Tragic Johnson" stems from Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Lakers were leading by five points with under a minute to go and on pace to go up 3-1 in the series. But Johnson had a turnover that led to Celtics points, and Boston eventually pushed the game into overtime. Then, Johnson missed two crucial free throws, and the Celtics were able to escape with the win, and they would ultimately win the Finals.
Boston fans were the ones who gave Magic the nickname of Tragic Johnson, and it was one of the few times Johnson came up short in a clutch situation.
5. Jimmy Garoppolo – Porn Star Jimmy
Career: 9 seasons (2014-present)
Stats: 14,289 YDS, 87 TD, 67.6 CMP%
Other nicknames: Jimmy G, Prince Aladdin
Bottom Line: Jimmy Garoppolo
It didn’t take Garoppolo long to realize that you’re under a bigger microscope when you’re a starting quarterback as opposed to a backup. Jimmy G found that out in 2018, as the then-26-year-old Niners QB went out on a date with 41-year-old porn star Kiara Mia. TMZ and the paparazzi snapped photos of the pair, and even though it was during the offseason, Garoppolo was bombarded with questions about it once training camp started.
He was bashed by the media who described it as unbecoming of a starting NFL quarterback, and it was ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith who started calling Garoppolo "Porn Star Jimmy." Garoppolo would later call it a “learning experience,” and if he’s continued to date porn stars, he’s at least no longer doing it publicly.
4. Wilt Chamberlain – Big Musty
Career: 14 seasons (1959-73)
Stats: 30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 4.4 APG
Other nicknames: Wilt the Stilt, The Big Dipper, The Record Book
Bottom Line: Wilt Chamberlain
Chamberlain set many records on the court, and he may have set records off the court for shortest shower time. He reportedly hated showering after games, or if he did shower, it was essentially a bird bath where he’d just splash some water on himself.
A biography written about him said he preferred to just put on large quantities of deodorant to help cover the stench, which was often noticeable by teammates. It was Lakers teammate and fellow Hall of Famer that dubbed Chamberlain “Big Musty,” but maybe pheromones were part of his plan.
3. Jared Lorenzen – The Pillsbury Throwboy
Career: 2 seasons (2006-07)
Stats: 28 YDS, 0 TD, 50 CMP%
Other nicknames: Hefty Lefty, He Ate Me, Quarter(got)back, The Abominable Throwman, The Round Mound of Touchdown
Bottom Line: Jared Lorenzen
Lorenzen was the Man of a Thousand Nicknames, and they all had something to do with his girth. He was a record-setting QB at Kentucky, where he was known just as much for his big arm as his big belly. He then weighed in at 288 pounds at the NFL combine, and when he made his pro debut, he became the heaviest quarterback in NFL history. Lorenzen threw just eight NFL passes in his career, but he also nabbed a Super Bowl ring as part of the 2007 New York Giants.
After his playing career ended, Lorenzen’s weight ballooned to over 500 pounds, and he passed away in 2019 due to heart and kidney problems.
2. Dave Winfield – Mr. May
Career: 22 seasons (1973-1988, 1990-95)
Stats: .283 BA, 465 HR, 3,110 H
Other nicknames: Winny
Bottom Line: Dave Winfield
Winfield is a Hall of Famer, a member of the 3,000-hit club and is one of three people to ever be drafted by four sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, ABA). Yet, some people only remember him from this quote in 1985 by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: "Where is Reggie Jackson? We need a Mr. October or a Mr. September. Winfield is Mr. May."
Ouch! Steinbrenner was saying that Winfield was someone who only put up big numbers in the regular season, or in May, rather than the postseason or the push for the postseason, which would be September and October. The "Mr. May" nickname wasn’t helped when Winfield hit a dismal .182 in his only postseason appearance with the Yankees. But, ironically, when he retired after the 1995 season, Winfield had the exact same career batting average (.277) in May as he had in September and October.
1. Charles Barkley – Round Mound of Rebound
Career: 16 seasons (1984-2000)
Stats: 22.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.9 APG
Other nicknames: Sir Charles, The Incredible Bulk, Boy Gorge, The Crisco Kid, Wide Load from Leeds, Ton of Fun, Goodtime Blimp
Bottom Line: Charles Barkley
It was at Auburn where Barkley first got the moniker "Round Mound of Rebound" due to both his prowess on the boards and his expanding waistline. His listed college weight was 284 pounds, and he used that girth to outmuscle opponents on the glass, averaging at least 9.5 rebounds in each of his three years at Auburn.
Barkley dropped some weight once he joined the NBA but not enough to drop his college nickname. Sir Charles even became better on the boards in the NBA, as he led the league during the 1986-87 season, and he retired ranking 15th all-time in rebounds.