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The top-10 athlete nicknames

The Cardinal Rule

assistant sports editor

Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 01:02

Kevin Durant has said he want his nickname to be “The Servant.” He has been called “The Durantula,” “The Slim Reaper” and “KD,” but none have been satisfactory to him. In light of this, here is a list of the top-10 athlete nicknames of all time.

1. George Herman Ruth — ‘Babe,’ ‘The Great Bambino,’ ‘The Sultan of Swat’
Ruth initially received the nickname “Babe” because of his childish antics and chubby baby-face. The nickname of “The Great Bambino” because of his Italian fans, who called him Bambino, which is Italian for Babe. He was also called “The Sultan of Swat” because of the way he would hit home runs; he would just swat them.

2. William Perry — ‘The Fridge’
Perry was a defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears from 1984-95. Bears coach Mike Ditka decided to put Perry in at fullback in short-distance situations. He came to the Bears with the nickname “The Fridge” from college, where they called him that for being — wait for it — as big as a refrigerator.

3. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson
Jackson played for the White Sox during their controversial 1919 season that saw the team fix the World Series. However, he is most remembered for his nickname which he claimed he received in a game when he took off his cleats because they were hurting him. A fan noticed him running the bases in his socks and called Jackson a “shoeless son of a gun,” and the nickname stuck.

4. Julius Erving — ‘Dr. J’
Erving was a basketball player in the ’70s and ’80s. He received his nickname for the way he “operated” on the basketball court or how he “doctored” shots. In any case, he was dubbed “Dr. J” and carried the name through most of his career.

5. Reggie Jackson — ‘Mr. October’
Jackson has been considered one of the most clutch postseason hitters ever. He claimed five World Series championships and two World Series MVP awards. He was also the first player ever to hit three home runs in one World Series game, which he did as a Yankee in game 6 of the 1997 World Series against the Dodgers.

6. Jack Nicklaus — ‘The Golden Bear’
Nicklaus won a record 18 golf major championships in his day. He was nicknamed “The Golden Bear” for his blonde hair and his stocky build. People also attach the bear reference to him being from California — which has a bear on its state flag — and the fact that you don’t want to wake a bear.

7. “Iron” Mike Tyson
Tyson was a heavyweight champion at the tail end of boxing glory days. He was nicknamed “Iron Mike” simply because of his strength and fast, hammering fists. The nickname followed him throughout most of his professional career.

8. Earvin “Magic” Johnson
This is a nickname that has basically become Johnson’s name. He is just recognized as “Magic” Johnson. Why do people call him that? Simply because, from a young age, his play was magical.

9. Ozzie Smith — ‘The Wizard,’ ‘The Wizard of Oz’
Smith was nicknamed “The Wizard,” for his stellar defensive play. He is widely recognized as the greatest shortstop in Cardinals history and one of the best in MLB history. With a name like Osborn and a nickname like “The Wizard,” it was just too easy to call him “The Wizard of Oz.”

10. Adam “Pac-Man” Jones
This is simply a funny name. Jones was known for his stellar returning ability, but while convenient, the nickname did not stem from that. “Pac-Man” was given the nickname by his mother when he was a kid, because he would change direction very abruptly and quickly like the video game character.

Jeffrey Dahdah is a sophomore studying statistics and journalism. He is a die-hard Cardinals, Rams, Jazz and Aggies fan. He loves sports statistics and loves using them to analyze sports and prove his points. If you have something to say to him, feel free to email him at or tweet at him @dahdahUSU

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