The Law Dogs Top 20 Nicknames in (recent) Sports History: Vol. I

The Law Dog is back. After the huge success and controversial picks in his Top 10 Video Games of All Time, he returns, but with a list so big, he had to double it up. Without further ado, I present to you Law Dogs Top 20 Nicknames in Sports.

I love nicknames.  I’ve had quite a few in my day.  The last name Law lends itself to being given a nickname, hence The Wayniac referring to me as Law Dog which became popular after Tombstone (“Law don’t go around here Law Dog”). 

It got me thinking about the best sports nicknames for my next top ten list.  However, I quickly realized there are way, WAY too many great nicknames, and narrowing a list down to 10 didn’t work for me.  I would leave too many off that I consider great.  Although I did make some rules to help me whittle down the list.

1. Your nickname can’t be a shorter version of your actual name (Sorry Gronk).

2. No boxers. I don’t want to include any nicknames from a profession where everyone has one (Sorry Real Deal Holyfield).

3. Your nickname has to be mentioned along with you the majority of the time.  An example of breaking this rule would be one of my all time favorite nicknames, The Round Mound of Rebound. Sorry Chuck, no one ever calls you that.

4. I decided to only go back as far as the 70’s (Sorry Babe).

5. Maybe my most controversial rule…..if you have more than 5 nicknames, all are banned from the list (sorry Shaq Diesel, Shaq Fu, The Big Aristostle, Mayor McShaq, Shaq Daddy, The Big IPO, The Big Shamrock (from those classic Celtic years….err, year), The Big Cactus, etc….etc).

So here are my top 20 sports nicknames since 1970.

20. Iron Mike Tyson

I know, I know, it took me two seconds to break a rule. I’m sorry! But Iron Mike Tyson was a great nickname and it was perfect for him.  Iron Mike is simple, to the point and no one ever just says Mike Tyson….they always say Iron Mike Tyson.  He’d be way higher on this list if its inclusion didn’t break a rule.  I promise this will be my only infraction.


19. Pete Rose AKA Charlie Hustle

I struggled with this one only because I don’t understand where it originated from.  I mean, is his middle name Charlie?  Nope.  I understand why he has a nickname centered around always hustling….I mean no player tried harder every minute on the field.  It’s the Charlie that bothers me.  I don’t get it.  You can’t even say Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose.  It’s more of an alias than a nickname.  Still good enough to make my list.

18.  Christian ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Okoye

Christian Okoye came along during my formative years as a football fan, and I loved him. My brother had his poster and the guy was a beast.  Until Steve Atwater pretty much ended his career (not with injury by the way, just by knocking the crap out of him on a play — he was never the same after that), the Nigerian Nightmare was a one man wrecking crew. My favorite part about Okoye’s story is he didn’t like football because it was too rough. Only after being left off the Nigerian Olympic Team did he decide to give football a try. Three years after picking up a football for the first time, he was playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.


17. Kevin ‘The Big Ticket’ Garnett

My only question here was if the name was used enough to be included on the list.  I don’t care. This is my retirement gift to Kevin Garnett, one of the best players to ever lace them up. He also stars in one of my favorite commercials (him and Marbury for ESPN the Magazine asking for all nude).

16. Jerome ‘The Bus’ Bettis

This nickname was just too perfect. Both teams he played for wore yellow. The guy was an absolute tank. His highlights were Chris Berman’s wet dream (que sound effect of running over people).  He is one of the few that most times is simply referred to by his nickname only.

15.  Frank ‘The Big Hurt’ Thomas

I’m starting to realize there are way too many people with nicknames that begin with ‘The Big ____’.  However, Frank Thomas did put a hurtin’ on a lot of people.  I also consider The Big Hurt to be the last baseball player to be given the benefit of the doubt for being 250 pounds of pure muscle versus being labeled a juicer. Congrats Frank!


14.   Reggie Jackson, Mr. October

While the nickname is great, I’m not sure one game constitutes being labeled Mr. October. I checked out the stats and out of 11 years of postseason play, Reggie hit one home run or less in 7 of them. His career batting average in the postseason is .278.  18 home runs in 77 games is definitely impressive, but if you take out 1977 and 1978, he hit 9 home runs in 56 games. That being said, three home runs in one World Series game is epic and at the end of the day, he deserves the moniker.

13.  Pistol Pete Maravich

Being one of the best college basketball players notwithstanding, the fact that anyone I knew growing up named Pete was called Pistol Pete by Baby Boomer dads is enough to land Pete Maravich on the list. Go look at his stats at LSU. Then apply the fact that there was no three point line and look again. He scored 3,677 points in 83 career games in college! Yes, that’s 44 points a game WITHOUT A THREE POINT SHOT!  The three point shot was introduced in 1979, Pistol’s last year in the league.  It’s safe to say the three pointer would have beefed up his stats. That year he went 10-15 from three point land (67%). He doesn’t even need a last name. All you gotta say is Pistol Pete and everyone knows who you are talking about.

12. Randy ‘The Big Unit’ Johnson

Here we go again with the big this and the big that! However, this guy deserved it.  First off, the name is just hilarious. The sexual undertones were enough to keep us teenagers cracking up every time we heard the name. Second, Randy Johnson was the most imposing pitcher since Bob Gibson. Sorry but Clemens can’t hold a candle to how intimidating Randy was on the mound. The guy is 6’10”, had the mullet of all mullets and great mustache to boot. He killed a freaking bird with a fastball! I’m sorry, he blew a bird up with his fastball. 

11. William Refrigerator Perry

Much like the name Maravich, William wasn’t needed anymore after the nickname Refrigerator took flight. He started a whole fad of giving names of appliances as nicknames. If a guy came in the league that was a little smaller, he was the Freezer.  Even the NBA had a Microwave Johnson.  My dad was a huge Patriots fan and actually got to go to the ’85 season Super Bowl AKA the Refrigerator Perry show. The name just made sense.

You really want to know the Top Ten, don’t you? I bet you do, it’s like the end of Star Wars when…. whoa… that was close.

Stay tuned… Vol. II is right around the corner!

3 thoughts on “The Law Dogs Top 20 Nicknames in (recent) Sports History: Vol. I”

  1. Love the list so far. I’m not sure what the next 10 include but I certaintly think the worm should be included as well as Donnie baseball, the human rain delay Steve trachsel and also the Russian rocket panel bure.Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing the next 10.

  2. Great work again, Ryne. Honorable Philly mention: Jonathan “Pap Smear” Papelbon, Byron “Toast” Maxwell & Andrew “Dufrane” Bynum.

    Next week’s topic suggestion: Where would you punch Chip Kelly first? Why?

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