Some of the greatest athletes and some very interesting characters have played in the NBA and have been given nicknames that follow them their whole career. Even some of the old timers had nicknames. George Gervin was the called ‘The Ice Man” because nothing rattled him and he could make shots fro anywhere. Oscar Robinson was the “Big O” and Bill Russell was so great his nickname was “Bill”.
Walt Frazier was called “Clyde” after the character in Bonnie and Clyde. Nicknames really became prominent in the 1980’s as the hip-hop era took hold a player’s nickname was used more often. Everyone knows the Michael Jordan is “MJ”, “His Airness” or “Air Jordan”. Only the players that transcend the game get multiple nicknames. Shaquille O’Neal is known as "Shaq", "The Big Aristotle", "The Big Diesel", "The Big Cactus", "Shaqtus”, his reference to playing in Phoenix and the "The Big Witness" in reference witnessing the king Lebron James.
Kobe Bryant is known as the “black Mamba” because he can strike and score so quickly or “Mr. 81” after scoring 81 points in a game. Magic is used moor often than Ervin Johnson and Julius Erving was known as “Dr. J” for his sweet jumper and Chamberlin was “Wilt The Stilt” because of his height.