Friday, December 18th, 2009 at 8:00 am  |  55 responses

Decade’s Best: Nickname

Look no further than the man called ‘Tough Juice.’

by Khalid Salaam

With the upcoming terrorist trials soon taking place in NY, Khalid Sheik Muhammad has been in the news again. Someone recently asked me if my name ever causes me problems and if I wished I had an American name. I responded by explaining to him that my name has never really been an outright detriment and that I loved my name as anyone loves their name. Now I knew where he was going with his line of questioning and I could have just let it go as is, but this guy caught me on a day when I was feeling awesome so I took it up a notch. I asked his name and he said it was John, to which I replied that his wasn’t American either. Unless your name is Navajo-based, it’s not American. That’s not my opinion, it’s simply truth.

I tell that story to say that given names are obviously important but are more a window into the mentalities of our parents. You can only understand so much in regards to someone’s name. To judge their character by their name is folly for the ignorant. But nicknames, that’s a whole other situation.

Nicknames are essentially given to someone (and occasionally given to oneself) to describe a personality or physical characteristic not evident by their actual names. Actual names are what your parents see in you, nicknames are who you are. Trying to select the best NBA nickname for this decade is not easy. Think of all the amazing nicknames in the NBA right now—Diesel, Big Ticket, The Answer, Birdman, etc. Now of course guys like Shaq, Garnett and AI are attached to the 90s as well, so those players are disqualified by default. I wanted it to be a guy whose presence in the League is based in this decade only. And I won’t do any initials, obviously — that’s not even a nickname, that’s just your name in iniCaron Butlertialized form. It’s the opposite of a nickname because it tells you nothing.

Also, anybody with a shortened name is out too. So no T-Mac’s or J-Smoove’s or BDiddy’s made my list or were even considered. That’s just lazy. SLAM started a nickname contest a few years ago in an attempt to destroy that very thing. My criteria are simple—the name has to denote something non-obvious that captures the essence of your game or personality. And that trait, whatever it is, has to be true. If you can’t jump then the words ‘air,’ ‘sky’ or ‘high’ can’t be anywhere in your nickname.

So my choice for best nickname of the 00s is Tough Juice aka Caron Butler. C’mon, give it up, that’s an inspired choice is it not?? It’s one of those names when you hear it the first time it makes you pause and ponder. It’s interesting, it’s accurate and it’s unique. Butler’s game is physical and his personality is a little intense. When Eddie Jordan gave him that name, everyone around the League co-signed it with ease because everyone knew that it fit. Tough Juice, it’s perfect.


For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/JoshElam JE


  • LeoneL

    Very nice write-up especially the first three paragraphs…and I agree with the choice.

  • Mid Bear

    The Machine?

  • tom

    can somebody please change vujacics nickname to “hair” or something like that and we all (except the laker fanboys) can move on.

  • Babygab

    Good choice ! Also I can’t decide which nickname suits Brandon Roy the most: “Blade” or “The natural”. Must admit that there is something about “The natural” that I really like. Oh well ! Anyway “Tough Juice” is indeed the best nickname of the last decade.

  • got beef?

    the truth? that or maybe the answer, but i think its the truth

  • Babygab

    Hey I know Kobe belongs to the 90′s as well, but the “Mamba” nickname was produce during the last decade. Just saying…

  • http://www.alwaysbball.blogspot.com einstein


  • Cam Jones

    Wow Half Man Half Amazing, Vinsanity or even the Truth might beg to differ with you. I’ll even accept King James, The Chosen One, STAT, or Black Mamba better than Tough Juice.



  • http://www.slamonline.com MooButter

    Tough Juice takes it, hands down. The Truth is dumb and doesn’t mean anything.

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    I like Z-PAC! But The Answer was good as well!

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    No love for Joey “The Vanilla Gorilla” Ghostface Pryzbilla?

  • rainman10

    People gotta read what the article said. The Truth, Black Mamba, the answer, they are disqualified because they played in the 90′s…But I love Joel “Vanilla Gorilla, Ghostface killa” Pryzbilla.

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    FLASH! you know it: simple, effective, awesome

  • sshr

    it’s “tuff-juice”

  • boy sanchez

    Tell me predictable or common or whatever, but The Answer was the best nickname of the decade

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    $ post, Khalid.

  • Mike

    Half-Man, Half-Amazing!! You guys need to figure it out.

  • http://www.michaelcho.com M Cho

    Can’t argue this one. Especially the 1st paragraph. Good call.

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  • http://nicekicks.com MeloMan2.0

    @Babygab: true, mamba was from this decade, but it was also a self given name. Nicknames whould be given to u. Air canada or half man-half amazin get my vote…

  • http://www.sonicbids.com doyouwantmore

    Anyone who gave themselves a nickname (Mamba) should be struck from the list too. Giving yourself a nickname because no one else wants to is just gay. For the record I think Flash is the best nickname.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    can you all re-read the article and RECOGNISE that nicname’s derived for players that were in the league prior to the year 2000 are instantly void of selection. so for the record, the answer IS OUT, the truth IS OUT, black mambe IS OUT, air canada IS OUT half man half amazing IS OUT. wake up get your sweaty hairy hands off yourselfs and grow the F up.

  • moneyshot

    I think AK-47 was a cool nickname

  • http://slamonline.com The underrated one

    what about flash? the paperboy paul millsap?

  • Sporting-Lisbon-Blazers

    joel “the vanilla gorila” Pryzbilla and halfman half amazing are better!

  • Sporting-Lisbon-Blazers

    flash also good

  • erik

    1/2 man 1/2 amazing. or black jesus

  • J

    flash somehow doesn’t fit dwade. flash is called well.. flash because of speed, and wade isn’t the fastest guy in the league. “flash” is the epitome of the fastest, and would fit more on a guy very fast in the likes of rondo, parker, paul,. how about dwades leaping ability? his toughness? i think that’s not flash..

  • Michael Scorn

    I vote “White chocolate” as the worst and way overused nickname for any white basketball player tries a behind the back pass. There has to be 10,000 players in america with the name white choclate. Completely unoriginal.

  • J

    tough juice is a great nick, great choice.

  • Yesse

    Ohh come on i’ve heard better ones.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    At least it wasn’t a self-given nickname…

  • fatjeansince88

    Worst “best of the decade” article. AND I COSIGN Mr. Michael Scorn 100%

  • http://www.in-n-outnba.blogspot.com Lucas

    Hahaha yes. Tough Juice might be getting traded soon.

  • Trout

    Hibachi … that really deserves more consideration.

  • jonny c

    i like Tough Juice, but i have to go with the Brazilian Blur

  • Josh

    Just because you played in the 90s doesn’t mean you didn’t have a huge impact on this decade. I think its choices like these that take away from the integrity of the decades best series, because this is not right. Worst choice yet.

  • robb

    I like “Skip to my Lou” better

  • Jakeh

    Psycho T
    Brazilian Blur

    Top 3 names (not players) in 2000s

  • buugi

    Joey “The Vanilla Gorilla” Ghostface Pryzbilla


  • black pinoy

    booooo yeah id go for Joey “The Vanilla Gorilla” Ghostface Pryzbilla too.. just painfully hilarious.. but great write up..especially the part when they asked you if your name bothers you.. my first name is CLARKENT ..for real…and whats worse is im black…so i know how it was in grade school buddy :D

  • ab_40

    two words… ru paul . wow clarkent. that is just wow. but I’m not gonna hate on your parents for doing that.

  • Rnz

    “…given names are obviously important but are more a window into the mentalities of our parents. You can only understand so much in regards to someone’s name…”

    I like what you said above. I am an Indonesian Moslem, and there is a saying here (I dont know if its Moslem or Indonesian) that names are the parents prayers for their children..

    shares pretty much the same idea

  • chintao

    Tom Chambers wants royalties. Youngsters, look it up. Pryz is Ghostface. Case closed.

  • davidR


  • Darren

    Brandon Roy AKA Boy Wonder

  • Cam Jones

    The Chosen 1 (Lebron), Superman and Krypto-Nate, Hibachi (Gilbert Arenas, STAT (Amare) are all drafted this decade and are all better nicknames than the lame in my opinion Tough Juice whose doesnt even have the coolest nickname on his team. Hibachi

  • Cam Jones

    The Chosen 1 (Lebron), Superman and Krypto-Nate, Hibachi (Gilbert Arenas, STAT (Amare) are all drafted this decade and are all better nicknames than the lame in my opinion Tough Juice whose doesnt even have the coolest nickname on his team. Hibachi

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    chosen1? please, he gave himself that name. HIBACHI! and he didnt give it to himself. if i recall correctly, haywood gave it to him

  • FoCo

    I was always partial to Starbury myself.

    Honorable mention to The Truth

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  • derrick

    pop wondering eye jones? never mind

  • DS44

    The Vanilla Gorilla wins.