Last week, after a ridiculously great performance, Nikola Jokic earned the nickname "Big Honey" from his teammate, Will Barton. Like any good nickname, it seems to have just come out of nowhere but doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, having already caught on with the Denver media.
The newly appointed nickname adds to an already impressive list of player nicknames for Denver Nuggets players. The franchise has had some fairly iconic nicknames throughout the team's history. "Fat" Lever, Birdman, Skywalker, Horse. However, I'm not sure that there has ever been a Nuggets team in the history of the organization that has had this many solid nicknames on the roster at the same time. Let's take a look at all of them, in reverse order.
Randy Foye - According to my research (a google search that lasted roughly 3 minutes), Foye has had a handful of nicknames given to him by fans and bloggers over the years but nothing that has stuck. Foye is a pretty unique and easy to pronounce last name and the three-syllable first/last combo kinda rolls off of the tongue well enough that he doesn't need a nickname. Not everybody can have a cool nickname and Foye is probably a guy that doesn't need one, especially this late into his career.
Jameer Nelson - Apparently he has been called Mighty Mouse at some point in the past but I've never heard anyone in Denver refer to him by that moniker. I have, unfortunately, heard the story of how the NBA's class clown, Dwight Howard, once coined the nickname "Crib Midget." That nickname has been on several all-time worst NBA nickname lists. It's kind of offensive and I'm 99% certain that Jameer hates the name. Unfortunately, like Foye, Jameer is probably too far along in his career to earn a new nickname that sticks. Lucky for him "Jameer" is a pretty unique and cool sounding name. Talk to any NBA fan and mention the name Jameer and they'll immediately know who you are talking about.
14) J.J. Hickson - Technically, "JJ" is his nickname since he is James Hickson Jr. Most "Juniors" go by initials as their nickname and JJ works really well. The abbreviated version sounds better than alternatives; Jim Hickson, James Hickson, Jimmy Hickson, Jamie Hickson, Jimbo Hickson.
13) Michael "Mike" Miller - I've always liked "Thriller Mike Miller" based solely on the fact that I made an awesome photoshop of him as Michael Jackson one time but sadly the nickname never caught on. "Killer Mike Miller" is far too menacing for a guy who rocks a perma-smile and is known as the nicest guy in the world. Denver Stiffs Hall of Famer Nate Timmons tried to get "Magic Mike" to catch on but predictably, it has not. So, sadly he's just "Mike Miller." It's pretty surprising that a guy who is so beloved by every teammate he has ever played for is without a nickname. He's got special handshakes for hundreds of different current and former NBA players yet doesn't have a nickname. According to the Miami Heat website, he "answers to 'Slim'" but I have never heard him called that. Slim is a pretty chill name. And Mike's a pretty chill guy. So I guess it works. But since I have never heard that name until looking it up, he only gets partial credit.
12) King Joffrey - King Joffrey is both really cool and really terrible. It's cool because "King" is such a positive title and it immediately gives Joff a bit of mystique that he might not have otherwise. However, it's also terrible because King Joffrey is the name of one of the main characters in the popular TV show, Game of Thrones. In that show (**SPOILER ALERT**) "King Joffrey" is a sadistic, psychopathic lunatic kid while somehow also being the worlds biggest wuss. It's an awful combo and probably not the person that you'd want to share a name with. Still, I somehow manage to think of our "King Joffrey" as a cool dude and GoT's King Joffrey as a separate person. (Also, it's probably just me but I swear Joffrey looks like Prince John in Disney's animated Robin Hood. Don't ask me to explain this.) Editor's note: JoLo is another nickname for Joff, in the tradition of J-Lo, J-Law, and RoLo.
11) White Mo - I don't think anyone outside of the Cleveland locker room ever knew about this nickname until last December when none other than Lebron James passed Michael Malone in the hallway at Pepsi Center and shouted at the top of his lungs, "White Mo!" Lebron screamed it and then immediately gave out his famous deep chuckle as the two smiled at each other. Malone went on to explain that when he was an assistant for the Cavaliers back from 2005-2010, he was known as "White Mo" and Mo Williams was known as "Black Mo."
10) Garris - Gary Harris has a pretty simple but effective nickname. It's not flashy but good nicknames don't always have to be flashy. Gary is perhaps the only example of a male name that seems to have a distinct era attached to it, in this case, the 70's. (Brenda and Michelle will forever sound like 80's names to me for some reason.) To me, Gary sounds like a tough Philly cop with a thick mustache and a no-nonsense approach. "Garris," on the other hand, is a sharp-shooting, high-flying, defensive juggernaut. Garris is cool. I like Garris.
9) Ill Will - Wilson Chandler has this nickname and it's pretty dope. Fits his style and personality too.
8) The Bosnian Beast - Jusuf Nurkic is one of the five strongest guys in the NBA so "beast" is certainly a proper descriptor. The nickname comes from the same naming style as "The Italian Stallion" and it has the same cool effect. It represents his home country and gives him a fierceness that he undoubtedly deserves. If there is one small drawback it is that "The Bosnian Beast" is kind of long and not the type of name you use too often like during a Sportscenter highlight or during a live game. It's more of a name that only comes out for special occasions. His more common everyday nickname is Juka, which is also pretty cool but only adds to the Jokic/Nurkic confusion.
7) Mad Eye Mudiay - I love this nickname. I'm upset that it isn't more common. No one else in the NBA has or ever will go by "Mad Eye" so it is completely unique. And man-o-man, is it cool. It's fierce, menacing, intense, and even has a nice rhythm and alliteration to it.
6) Big Honey - I have no idea what it means and perhaps it's best to never know. Big Honey is just a cool nickname for one of the league's best rookies, Nikola Jokic. There have been a handful of "Big" nicknames in NBA history. Sam Perkins was Big Smooth, Tim Duncan is The Big Fundamental, Shaquille O'Neal was the Big Aristotle (among many others), Chauncey Billups is Mr. Big Shot, Wilt Chamberlain was The Big Dipper, Kevin Garnett is The Big Ticket, Robert Horry was Big Shot Bob, Ben Wallace was Big Ben, James Worthy was Big Game James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was Big Z, Glenn Robinson was Big Dog, Glen Davis is Big Baby...okay the list is starting to fall off a bit. But Big Honey fits a nice tradition of "Big" nicknames and Honey is right up there with Smooth as one of the best.
5) E-Z Ed - Apparently, Ed Pickney's nickname is E-Z- Ed. The name might be well-known to Villanova fans of the 80's as it appears that is where the Nuggets assistant coach first earned the nickname for his easy going and likable personality. According to this very interesting excerpt from the book "Tales from the Villanova locker room," E-Z was a guy that teammates and classmates just got along with. E-Z is easily one of the best nicknames on the team.
4) Darth - Like Garris, Darth is a perfect blend of Darrell and Arthur and a lucky coincidence that it is also the name of one of film's greatest villains.
3) Gallo/Rooster - Danilo Gallinari has two cool nicknames. Gallo, which is just a diminutive for Gallinari, and Rooster, which is the English translation for Gallo in Italian. Both are pretty cool. When it comes to nicknames, I prefer unique more so than intimidating. That's why I love that New Orleans rebranded themselves as the Pelicans. Pelicans don't have to be terrifying like Grizzlies, they just have to be unique to the city they represent. In college, we (Colorado College) was one of six teams in our conference with "Tigers" as our mascot.
Roosters aren't tough or trendy or anything like that and that is why the name is so cool. Gallo is full of coolness. He's one of the coolest guys in the NBA. He's so cool that he can grow out a horrible neckbeard for months at a time and still be infinitely cooler and better looking that all of us combined. He doesn't need to go by "Hawk" or "Falcoln" or some name that tries to artificially pump up his cool factor. He's got so much cool that he can be called Rooster and make it sound cool. That's cool.
Bonus - Gallo's Dad, Vittorio Gallinari was known as Pistol-Gallo, one of the all-time great nicknames.
2) The Manimal - Allegedly, Kenneth Faried was given the nickname at the NBA combine because of his ferocious work ethic and energy in drills and scrimmages. He's been going by that nickname ever since and Manimal has become one of the more iconic nicknames in the NBA. It's one of the rare nicknames that is known about as well as the actual name.
1) The People's Champ - Will Barton is a 2nd round draft pick. He arrived in Denver as a guy that was struggling to get minutes in Portland and was in a situation that was wasting away what little chance he had of developing a long NBA career. So when he arrived in Denver, he was already an NBA underdog story. It's that underdog mentality that makes Will Barton such an easy guy to root for. He truly is the people's champ, the underdog who fought through adversity and has arrived as one of the break out stars of 2015-16. He truly is the people's champ.
Bonus: Two Denver Stiffs staff writers have a pair of very cool nicknames: Jeff Morton is known all over the world as the King of Thornton while Andy Feinstein is affectionately referred to as The Big Stiff.