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Lakers guard Austin Reaves wants to shed his two nicknames

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Austin Reaves was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreary 2021-22 season for the Los Angeles Lakers.

From the start of the schedule, he showed an ability to hit outside shots, handle the ball, make plays for others, defend and hustle.

He quickly earned two nicknames as a result: “Hillbilly Kobe,” an ode to his rural Southern upbringing, and “AR-15,” a reference to his initials and jersey number.

But Reaves wants to drop both nicknames.

Via Lakers Daily:

“Lakers fans gave him two different nicknames, but out of respect for gun violence victims and the late Kobe Bryant, Reaves seemingly wants to distance himself from the nicknames ‘AR-15’ and ‘Hillbilly Kobe.’

“‘I don’t condone any gun violence that happens around our country,’ Reaves told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. ‘But you can’t really control what [nickname] people give you. I mean, I didn’t come out and say my name was that. There’s been others, like the “Hillbilly Kobe,” that probably aren’t the best thing in the situation that’s going on, with Kobe’s passing.'”

The AR-15, a popular semi-automatic rifle, has reportedly been used in several mass shootings across the country, including the one at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Reaves’ name has come up in trade talks lately, a sign that he is seen as valuable around the league. But there is no sign the Lakers are open to trading him for someone such as Kyrie Irving or Buddy Hield.

The 6-foot-5 wing has been working hard on his craft this summer, as he has reportedly gained over 10 pounds of muscle.

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