BEN ANDERSON

Poll: The Utah Jazz All-Time Best Nicknames – Round One

Oct 27, 2020, 3:07 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2020, 1:55 pm
Donovan Mitchell at the Spiderman premiere. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)...
Donovan Mitchell at the Spiderman premiere. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA has a long history of great nicknames. From Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain to Magic Johnson to Air Jordan, these monikers encapsulate the essence of the greatest players in basketball history. The Utah Jazz are no strangers to great nicknames, especially during the career of legendary broadcast “Hot Rod” Hundley who assigned shorthand identities to Jazz players as easily as John Stockton dished out assists. But what is the best nickname in Jazz history?

To answer this question, we turn to you, the Jazz fan to decide which Jazz player has the best nickname in team history. We’ve set up a playoff-style bracket with head to head matchups that allows you the fan to determine which Jazz player has the best nickname during the team’s 40-plus year history.

Matchup One: “The Mailman”  vs. “The Man Mountain”

1. The Mailman: The top seed in the bracket is unquestionably Karl “The Mailman” Malone who earned his name at Louisiana Tech because he always delivered in the post. The nickname was so iconic it was universally known before Malone even reached the NBA, as then head coach Frank Layden announced to Jazz fans “We’re going to bring a mailman to Utah” when the Jazz drafted the future Hall of Famer with the 13th pick in the 1985 NBA draft.

8. Man Mountain: Surprisingly “The Man Mountain” Mark Eaton’s name isn’t more well known among casual NBA audiences. Perhaps that’s because Eaton played against some of the best centers in NBA history which overshadowed the Jazz big man’s All-Star resume.

Eaton both earned the name due to his massive size, standing 7’4, as well as residing in the mountainous landscape of Utah.

Matchup Two: “Pistol” Pete Maravich vs. “Hot Rod” Hundley

2. Pistol: The best nicknames in basketball tend to have a  few things in common. They must elicit imagery of the player’s game, they traditionally have some alliteration, and by themselves can replace a players government name. “Pistol” Pete checks all of those boxes as the former Jazz star electrified the game with a nickname more synonymous with the Hall of Famer than his real name, Peter Maravich.

Pistol earned his title in high school as he shot the ball from his hip like a revolver, though the moniker eventually grew to represent both his sharpshooting and his flashy style of play. He was so widely known by the name that he even wore “Pistol” on the back of his jersey during his career.

7. Hot Rod: “Hot Rod” Hundley’s nickname is equally iconic among Jazz fans who grew up listening to the longtime broadcaster’s Appalachian twang both on TV and the radio. The nickname is so strongly tied to Jazz legend that simply calling him Rod Hundley would throw fans for a spin. “Hot Rod” or simply “Hots” earned his nickname due to his showboating style of play a West Virginia where he was a consensus All-American and the number one overall pick by the Cincinnati Royals in 1957.

Matchup Three: “Dr. Dunkenstein” vs. “Spida”

3. Dr. Dunkenstein: Some nicknames are so audacious they become more infamous than the player themselves. That may very well be the case for Darrell Griffith who was a star player at Louisville before winning the Rookie of the Year for the Jazz, though his overall career never lived up to his hype coming out of college.

Dr. Dunkenstein hails from Parliament’s funk hit Dr. Funksentein, which singer George Clinton later adopted as his alter-ego. Griffith’s brother liked the song so much he renamed his brother Dr. Funkenstein, which followed him throughout his career. It’s an all-time great nickname, even if Griffith wasn’t an all-time great player.

6. Spida: It’s a little surprising the “Spida” label has stuck so well with Donovan Mitchell considering it lacks a lot of the traditional elements that make for a strong nickname. It’s not alliterative, it doesn’t roll off the tongue particularly well, and the origin story is pretty plain. Mitchell liked to dunk so a high school teammate’s father called him “Spida.”

Yet, behind the magic of marketing from Adidas, “Spida” has become one of the more recognizable nicknames in the modern NBA and it’s helped the Jazz young star become one of the most celebrated faces in the game.

Matchup Four: “AK-47” vs. “Stifle Tower”

4. AK-47: Teaming a player’s initials with his jersey number to create a nickname was a bit of a fad in the early 2000’s and has continued to find a footing in the modern league. Kobe Bryant was briefly called KB8,  Chris Paul still carries the nickname CP3, while Paul George is commonly referred to as PG-13.

Truthfully, they’re lazy nicknames and rarely do much beyond abbreviating a player’s name. However, Andrei Kirilenko’s “AK-47” bucks that trend by both incorporating his initials and jersey number, while providing a cultural reference to the one-time All-Star’s Russian heritage. Kirilenko was too cool to not have a nickname, and AK-47 fit him perfectly.

5. Stifle Tower: Hailing from longtime Jazz beat writer Jody Genessey, Rudy Gobert’s “Stifle Tower” nickname is a terrific title that captures Gobert’s size, stifling style of play, and French background.

The only thing that drops the nickname this far down the list is the numerous fantastic alter-egos Gobert has, including the “French Rejection’ and Gobert’s personal favorite “Gobzilla.” But, like Gobert, “Stifle Tower” stands above the rest.

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Poll: The Utah Jazz All-Time Best Nicknames – Round One