9. Juwan Howard – Nook
Juwan Howard had a 19-year NBA career highlighted by an All-Star appearance in 1996 and an NBA title with the Miami Heat in 2012. In the middle of his long career was a 3-year stint with the Houston Rockets from 2004-07.
Howard only has one nickname as far as I was able to determine, and even that one is iffy. While Basketball-Reference lists his nickname as Nook, a Michigan Athletic Associate post from 2009 refers to him as Big Nook. The post states that the scoreboard during his Michigan days would flash the name during his introduction and when he made a nice play.
Then again, there are Air Jordans out there simply displaying the name Nook. What’s missing from every reference to the nickname, however, is an actual explanation for it.
His official website and Wikipedia entry both make no mention of either version of the name, so for now, this will have to remain a mystery.
8. Billy Paultz – The Whopper
Billy Paultz spent 15 years in the NBA, with four of those being with the Houston Rockets from 1979-83. Standing at 6-11, Paultz had an impressive career in the NBA, making the All-Star team three times and winning an ABA title in 1974.
With a name like Billy Paultz, you would think there’s plenty to work with when it comes to figuring out a nickname, yet The Whopper is what stuck. I had to dig deep for this one, but the only record I could find explaining the nickname is from a 1985 article in Orange Coast Magazine by Bob Roe.
In the article, Roe says: “Billy Paultz is known as ‘The Whopper’ for a physiognomy that only a Burger King could love.” The first definition of physiognomy is the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance.
I’m still not exactly sure how that described Paultz, but there you go. Your guess is as good as mine.
Next: No. 7 & 6