Poll: The Utah Jazz All-Time Best Nicknames – Semi-Finals

Nov 4, 2020, 2:44 PM | Updated: 2:52 pm

Karl Malone - Utah Jazz...

Karl Malone #32 of the Utah Jazz during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 1, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The Jazz won 94-89. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz fans have spoken, and “The Mailman” has once again delivered. According to voters in the first round of KSL Sports best Jazz nickname poll, Karl “The Mailman” Malone is the early favorite for the best moniker in franchise history.

The eight candidate opening round pitted the best nicknames in Jazz history against one another to decide would earn the title for the franchise.

Malone faced off against “The Man Mountain” Mark Eaton in a one vs. eight seed. The two vs. seven matchup featured “Pistol Pete” Maravich against broadcaster “‘Hot Rod” Hundley. The three vs. six matchup featured Darrell Griffith aka Dr. Dunkenstein vs. Donovan “Spida” Mitchell, while the four vs. five matchup paired fourth-seeded Andrei Kirilenko, known by his nickname AK-47 against the fifth-seeded “Stifle Tower” Rudy Gobert.

Voting In the Jazz Nickname Poll

“The Mailman” easily knocked off “The Man Mountain” in the opening round winning a commanding 94-percent of the vote, making him the odds on favorite to capture the title.

Maravich, known more cordially as “Pistol Pete” dominated “Hot Rod” earning 72-percent of the vote in the first round.

In our biggest first-round surprise (and perhaps a result of recency bias) the lower-seeded “Spida” blew out fellow Louisville product “Dr. Dunkenstein.” Mitchell, who paid homage to Griffith in the 2018 NBA Dunk Contest won an impressive 61-percent of the vote.

Finally, in what was projected to be a close race, Jazz fans overwhelmingly preferred “AK-47” to the “Stifle Tower” in a battle of elite defensive. Kirilenko, a long-time fan favorite won 84-percent of the vote.

The Semi-Finals: One vs. Four

Moving to the nickname semi-finals, Jazz fans will have to further narrow down their favorites to set up a winner take all Finals round.

The matchups will feature “The Mailman” taking on semi-final sleeper “AK-47.” While current star “Spida” will have to prove he’s more venomous than “Pistol Pete.”

Fans can vote throughout the week setting up the championship round next week.

1. The Mailman: The top contender 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.


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 2000s 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.

The Semi-Finals: Two vs. Six

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 player’s 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.


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.

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Poll: The Utah Jazz All-Time Best Nicknames – Semi-Finals