There are some stars that are so great and so popular that regular birth names just aren't good enough. Roland Bailey's mother had the foresight to nickname him "Champ" when he was young because she may have know he was going to be one of the greatest NFL cornerbacks ever. But Earvin Johnson? What's an Earvin? That certainly doesn't sound like a basketball player. A backup basketball announcer, maybe, but definitely not a ball player. But Magic Johnson? You can't have that nickname and not be something special.
The NBA has seen a massive amount of nicknames thrown around during its history (Shaquille O'Neal has at least 15). The best ones succinctly describes everything that's great about the player it's attached to, whether it's his on-the-court dominance or outward persona. They sometime sound badass, too. Like, AK-47 for instance. It's hard to go wrong if you're named after an assault rifle, and yet there are a slew of nicknames we deemed better than that one. Check them out on The 40 Best NBA Nicknames of All Time.