Chinese internet users have the most incredible nicknames for NBA players

Yahoo Sports

A trade war may be brewing, but when it comes to internet nicknames for NBA players, China has already won the battle against the U.S. in a bloodbath, and the sport of basketball is better for it.

Rutgers University assistant professor Nick Kapur, a historian of East Asia with a Ph.D. from Harvard, shared on Twitter a list of nicknames for high-profile NBA players that Chinese netizens have altered from the traditional translations of English monikers, and the lot of them are, quite simply, amazing.

LeBron James

English nickname: King James
Chinese nickname: The Little Emperor

I’m not wild about this nickname, but it is refreshing to know there are LeBon haters everywhere.

Russell Westbrook

English nickname: Russ or The Brodie
Chinese nickname: Wei Dude

Wei Dude is good, but Dominating Dude is just a massive upgrade in nicknames for Westbrook.

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry is a Chinese internet god. (Twitter)
Stephen Curry is a Chinese internet god. (Twitter)

English nickname: Chef Curry
Chinese nickname: F***s the Sky

End the debate. This is the greatest nickname in sports history. And it’s not even close. Baby-Faced Assassin was actually a decent nickname for Curry when he was younger, but ever since he won back-to-back MVP awards and torched just about every 3-point record in NBA history the past six seasons, he’s needed a new one, and Chef Curry just wasn’t cutting it. This? This is incredible, and I dare Mike Breen to scream it on a broadcast instead of his traditional “Bang” if Curry hits a playoff game-winner.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

English nickname: Greek Freak
Chinese nickname: Letters Bro

Greek Freak is good, but Letters Bro is a fantastic nickname for someone with 13 letters in his last name who has given everyone from Chicago Bulls announcer Stacey King to former President Barack Obama fits trying to pronounce it. But you already knew that. And Giannis already knew it, too. When a Chinese reporter alerted him of this nickname in November, Antetokounmpo said, “It’s cool.” Yes, it is.

Kobe Bryant

English nickname: Mamba
Chinese nickname: Snail Shell

This one needs some work.

Manu Ginobili

English nickname: The Magician
Chinese nickname: The Demon Blade

Ginobili has had some pretty incredible nicknames over the years, from El Contusione to BatManu to Obi-Wan Ginobili, but The Demon Blade tops them all. If the one for Curry wasn’t so good, this would be the greatest. I call for the Eurostep to be renamed The Demon Blade in his honor when he retires.

Shaquille O’Neal

English nickname: Shaq, Diesel, The Big Aristotle, et al.
Chinese nickname: The Giant Shark

The Giant Shark? Not great. O’Fat? Perfect.

Klay Thompson

English nickname: Big Smokey
Chinese nickname: The Buddha

We know China’s affinity for Thompson, and Thompson’s affinity for China, so Buddha seems right.

Carmelo Anthony

English nickname: Melo
Chinese nickname: Melon

Melon is just a good nickname, especially for a guy who put up a couple in the playoffs. #StayMe7on

Kevin Durant

English nickname: KD, Durantula, Slim Reaper
Chinese nickname: Schoolbag Du

Durantula and Slim Reaper are pretty great, but Durant was sued over the former and doesn’t like the latter, so Schoolbag Du is the next-best option and a nice reminder that he used to wear a backpack.

Charles Barkley

English nickname: The Round Mound of Rebound
Chinese nickname: The Flying Pig

The Round Mound of Rebound is pretty perfect, but kudos to Kapur for coming in hot with the “self-explanatory” line there. I have a feeling we’re going to hear about this on “Inside the NBA” for an hour.

Michael Jordan

English nickname: MJ, Air Jordan, His Airness
Chinese nickname: Gang Boss

Instead of the G.O.A.T. debate, everyone should be playing for the title of Gang Boss. Jordan is the Gang Boss for now, but what if LeBron James wins a title with these Cleveland Cavaliers?

Dirk Nowitzki

English nickname: The Dunking Deutschman
Chinese nickname: The German Panzer Tank

Yeah, I’m definitely not on board with any Nazi-related nicknames. None of Nowitzki’s many nicknames have really stuck, but The 7-Foot Schnitzel and The Big Mummy are pretty great.

Tony Parker

English nickname: TP
Chinese nickname: The Little French Sports Car

TP was never a great nickname, if only because of the toilet paper imagery it creates. The Little French Sports Car is a pretty great representation of how Parker played in his prime, so let’s stick with that.

Julius Erving

English nickname: Dr. J
Chinese nickname: J, Ph.D.

If you know Erving, you can call him Dr. J, but this is how you should formally address him now.

Scottie Pippen

English nickname: Pip
Chinese nickname: Second Best Under Heaven

Gang Boss and Second Best Under Heaven has a nice ring to it.

Dwyane Wade

English nickname: D-Wade, Flash
Chinese nickname: Dian Wei

That backstory, though. “He famously died covering for Cao Cao’s retreat when they were ambushed by a rebel army” sounds a lot like Wade’s departure from Miami after LeBron returned to Cleveland following the 2014 NBA Finals, when the San Antonio Spurs handed them a lopsided five-game loss.

Stephon Marbury

English nickname: Starbury
Chinese nickname: Marburyist Political Commissar

Marbury is an even bigger legend in China than he is in the U.S., so they own his naming rights.

Kevin Garnett

English nickname: KG, The Big Ticket
Chinese nickname: King of the Wolves

Garnett does love to howl, but this could use an upgrade after his stay with the Boston Celtics.

Steve Nash

English nickname: Kid Canada
Chinese nickname: Son of the Wind

Should be Sun of the Wind, but still very good.

Tim Duncan

English nickname: Timmy, The Big Fundamental
Chinese nickname: The Stone Buddha

The Big Fundamental is tough to top, but The Stone Buddha has a nice ring to it.

There are so many more in Kapur’s incredible thread. Thank you, Chinese netizens.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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