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The short history of the great nicknames of NBA players

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The short history of the great nicknames of NBA players


“My Favorite Nickname” for Adrien “Chewy” Pommepuy, illustrator. “Who is still talking about Earvin Johnson? Magic erased his first name and even his last name. » Given by a journalist in high school, the nickname “Magic” then put a little pressure on the future star of the Lakers, who did not adopt it right away. “And his mother, very religious, considered this nickname evoking magic a little inappropriate for a good Christian”, recalls Vincent “Baby TER” Reculeau, author of the texts.


“It was Stevie Wonder, who went to Sixers meetings in Philadelphia in the 1970s, who was told about the game by a friend. His imagination and his poetry did the rest and he nicknamed “Éclair de chocolat” this basket smasher who gave nicknames to his dunks, such as “The Go-Rilla”, “The Rim Wrecker”, “The In Your Face Disgrace”. »


Among the most intriguing in the book. Vincent Reculeau: “Nance won the first dunk contest, in 1984. The Suns launched a contest to find a nickname for him. “Flash Nance” was discarded, along with “Slambassador”. He kept this one, long and funny. » For the illustrator, “The negative resonance of ‘ayatolla’ also evokes ‘AK47’, Andrei Kirilenko’s nickname, for his initials and for his hometown (Izhevsk), where the Kalashnikov is made. »

Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon. (Adrien Pommepuy/“NBA All Star Names”/Amphora Publishing)


“A nickname that sticks to the game of the Serb from Denver, explains the author: atypical, like the joker in a card game. »“There is also this side that does not take itself seriously, for the designer. It was given to him by a teammate, Mike Miller, who couldn’t pronounce “Jokic”. This is what happens to many Europeans like the Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo, nicknamed “The Greek Freak”. »

“NBA All Star Names” by Vincent Reculeau, illustrations by Adrien Pommepuy, Amphora editions, preface by Thomas Pesquet, €29.95.

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