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Recounting some of the best Celtic nicknames

And the stories behind many of the top Gang Green monikers

Jared Wickerham

The era of the great nickname seems to be mostly a thing of the past. Most of the best monikers were a product of a time when newspapers and radio ruled information dissemination, and when the media were less critical and more fawning, friendlier with the players, or even traveled with the teams to games.

With less games on TV or available to watch, the often highly-colorful nicknames provided fans, who rarely if ever saw games live, a better, idealized version of their sports heroes. The nicknames helped stimulate their imaginations and create excitement.

The frequently hyperbolic and friendly tone of many of the nicknames also illustrate perhaps a more genteel time as well, when nicknames were almost comic-book like, more creative and less mean-spirited.

While this is by no means meant to be a complete list of Celtic nicknames, here are many of the most memorable or best Boston monikers, and their origins, as best as I could research and from my own memory.

The Hick from French Lick, Larry Legend, Kodak (Larry Bird)

None other than Bird himself supposedly authored the self-described "Hick from French Lick" nickname. Of course, had anyone else pinned him with such a nickname, Larry likely would have objected.

An intentionally tongue in cheek moniker, it illustrates how Bird cleverly learned to take advantage of the preconceived notions of those who underestimated the unusual-looking, supposed hayseed from southern Indiana with double-meaning self-effacement.

As writer Jerry Izenberg said, "Larry Bird was no hick, but he could put a straw in his mouth, play the part and make you believe it." Rival Julius Erving echoed that sentiment: "He had this mask of a hick from French Lick, but if you believed that for one minute, you were in trouble."

After Bird achieved unquestioned superstardom in the 1980's, noted east coast sportswriter Peter Vecsey gave him the alliterative "Larry Legend" nickname for his long string of late-game heroics, MVP awards and unsurpassed career. Bird fans Dan Patrick and Craig Kilborn of ESPN helped popularize the nickname on SportsCenter.

Bill Fitch, Larry's first NBA coach, called Bird "Kodak" after the popular camera at the time, since he had the ability to mentally "take photos" and be aware of where all 10 players were on the court at any time. Bob Knight echoed that observation, saying Bird "had a mind like a camera."

The Houdini of the Hardwood, the Cooz (Bob Cousy)

Bob Cousy was the young NBA's greatest, most popular star in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Also called Mr. Basketball, he was a flashy and entertaining player, a superbly creative passer who wowed the fans with his legerdemain.

At 6-1, he was someone the fans could identify with more than 6-10 George Mikan, the league's first true superstar who led Minneapolis to five titles from 1949-54. He possessed huge hands, muscular legs, a burning drive to succeed borne of an upbringing in the tenements of New York City, flair and a lot of imagination.

Cousy's great court vision, unconventional ballhandling and no-look passing earned him the nickname the Houdini of the Hardwood. He thought nothing of throwing 25-foot overhead passes, or shooting 15-foot left-handed hooks. And these passes usually hit their target, as did the occasionally outlandish shots he took at times.

However, even though he popularized the behind the back dribble, Hall of Fame guard Bob Davies of the Royals is generally considered the progenitor of the move - not Cousy, as is widely believed.

Davies was the NBA's first great guard just before Cousy, and was called the Harrisburg Houdini. It is likely that Cousy's Houdini nickname was a follow-up to and/or play on that of Davies. Regardless, Bob's flashy style of play was worthy of the magician comparison.

By the time Cousy had become a star, Houdini was still vivid in the imagination of the public and the media, having died in 1926. So it was not surprising that the alliterative nicknames popular with the people that came up with the monikers would invoke Harry Houdini to describe Cousy's exciting and entertaining style of play.

The Cooz was just a shortening of his French surname, which also sounded as cool as his playing style, emulating the post 1950's emphasis on cool (think the Fonz) and America's new-found post-war leisure.

Tommy Gun, Ack-Ack (Tom Heinsohn)

Heinsohn was the first great Celtic true forward, and was a noted gunner and scorer. A perennial second team all-league selection, he won the 1957 Rookie of the Year award and took home eight rings in nine seasons.

A dogged competitor and smart player who was pegged as a future coach (and whipping boy by Red Auerbach), he was not known among his teammates for his passing.

Bill Russell, as a TV analyst during an NBA All-Star Game, joked that Heinsohn had a great All-Star showing one year. "He went 18 for 20," said Russell, setting up his punch line. "He got the ball 20 times and shot 18," he joked, then let out his trademark cackle.

Thus the New Jersey native who attended Holy Cross was known as Tommy Gun for his quick trigger shooting after the infamous Prohibition-era weapon known for its high volume of autmoatic fire. He as also known as Ack-Ack for the sound anti-aircraft guns made when shooting.

Heinsohn was a two-time champion Celtic coach and long-time announcer, and thus his Hall of Fame playing career often gets overlooked. But he was a very key member of eight title teams and was a good clutch player.
His steal off a rebound and two free throws helped clinch the 1964 title vs. the Warriors as he scored a team-high 19 points in a 105-99 game five victory.

The year before, his crosscourt steal and ensuing layup off a floating Jerry West pass late in game six also helped Boston win the 1963 crown in Bob Cousy's last game, 112-109. Again, Tommy Gun scored a team-leading 22 points in the clinching triumph.

Heinsohn, who was chased home from school during the war years regularly because of his German ancestry/surname, later became an accomplished painter.

Hondo (John Havlicek)

John Havlicek's east European surname was hard to pronounce for some of his friends growing up in Bridgeport in rural eastern Ohio. In 1953, John Wayne starred in a popular 3-D western called "Hondo" that a young Havlicek went to see with friends.

One of his friends noticed that Havlicek, who was a strong, silent type like the character Wayne played, also resembled big John (both ended up 6-5 as well).

So his tongue-tied pal started calling John Hondo, and the moniker stuck throughout an All-American career at Ohio State and 16 Hall of Fame seasons with Boston.

Big Red (Dave Cowens)

The uber-intense play of Dave Cowens was topped off by his bright red head of hair. The 6-8.5 center played with incredible fire, so the nickname was an easy one to pin on him.

The chewing gum Big Red was introduced in America in 1976, the same year Cowens led Boston to the NBA title over Phoenix. But it is likely that his nickname pre-dated the cinnamon-flavored gum.

The Chief (Robert Parish)

Cedric Maxwell accurately gave Parish this nickname when he joined the Celtics in a major 1980 trade. Noting the stoic demeanor and prominent facial features of his new teammate, Maxwell felt he resembled Chief Bromden from the extremely popular and acclaimed mid-1970's film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

It turned out to be one of the best and most enduring nicknames in the NBA during that time. One could often hear teammates calling for outlet passes by yelling "Chief, Chief."And the quiet Parish played with great pride and in a dignified manner.

Cornbread (Cedric Maxwell)

Maxwell, like Bird, wore number 33, played forward/center in college and led an unheralded team to the Final Four in the late 1970's - and also did not win the coveted NCAA title.

The versatile Maxwell took North Carolina-Charlotte to the national semifinals in 1977, but they lost to eventual champion Marquette on a last-second basket to end their title dreams.

Like Havlicek, Maxwell earned his nickname via a teammate from a movie. "Cornbread, Earl and Me" was a 1975 film about a young boy traumatized by the murder of his basketball star friend, played by UCLA/Warrior/Laker star Jamaal Wilkes.

Although Maxwell did not like the nickname that UNCC teammate Melvin Watkins pinned on him, it caught on and was popularized by the New York media after Cedric led the 49ers to the 1976 NIT title in Madison Squre Garden.

Duck (Don Chaney)

This one is after Donald Duck, and also for the 6-5 Chaney's incredible 82-inch wingspan. Not sure how having unusually long arms translates to Duck, but maybe it was one of those opposite nicknames since ducks don't have arms, like when people call someone overweight Slim or Tiny.

The nickname was reportedly given to him at the University of Houston, where he teamed with Elvin Hayes to stop the 47-game win streak of Lew Alcindor and UCLA in the famous Astrodome contest of 1968, 71-69.

Westy (Paul Westphal)

From a simple shortening of his last name, southern California native Westphal was also a fan of Laker great guard Jerry West and wore number 44 like Mr. Clutch.

Even his surname was close to Jerry's name, and the nickname Westy of the All-Star guard was even closer. 
Westy played a key role as seventh man on the 1974 Celtic title team in his second season. A year later, Boston traded him to Phoenix, where he blossomed into a three-time, first team All-NBA guard and perennial All-Star.

Nellie (Don Nelson)

Again, another shortening of a surname. A college standout at Iowa, Nelson was released by the Lakers and ended up winning five titles with Boston, three at the expense of Los Angeles in 1966-68-69.

Smart and a good shooter, his high bounce basket that hit the back rim and went 14 feet in the air before settling back cleanly through the hoop clinched a game seven title win at Los Angeles in 1969.

Easy Ed (Ed Macauley)

Charles Edward Macauley, Jr. is the forgotten first Celtic superstar big man before Bill Russell. Nearly 6-9, he was a perennial All-Star and a three-time first team All-NBA pick with Boston.

Ed was traded to his St. Louis hometown in 1957 in the Russell draft deal. Due to the incredible success of the Russell era, Macauley's deeds have been kargeky forgotten. But he became the youngest player ever elected to the Hall of Fame in 1960 shortly after he retired, and was later a deacon and author. And he helped the Hawks win the 1958 championship over the Celtics.

Macauley, Jr. went by Ed and got his nickname when as team captain, one of his duties was to lead his top-ranked St. Louis college team's charge onto the floor for warm-ups.

The intense Macauley ran out for the layup drill before one game, but the rest of the team did not follow him as the national anthem had just begun. After Ed made a layup while no one followed him, a few fans yelled at him "hey take it easy, Ed."

The alliterative nickname stuck as the slender, high-scoring big man also had a graceful, easy style of play.

Future 6-9 Celtic forward Ed Pinckney also went by the same nickname, often spelled E-Z Ed to differentiate him from Macauley. Pinckney, star of the 1985 Villanova Cinderella NCAA champions, was a strong offensive rebounder for Boston from 1988-94.

He was acquired by Boston along with Joe Kleine in the Danny Ainge/Brad Lohaus deal, when ironically Russell was GM of the Kings.

Norman Bates (Fred Roberts)

The athletic Roberts was a solid backup forward on the great 1986-88 Celtic squads. But because of his inconsistent play, intense gaze and lanky, wide-shouldered build somewhat reminiscent of Anthony Perkins (who played Norman Bates in the famous Alfred Hitchcock 1960 thriller "Psycho"), Fred often drew the ire of the Boston fan base.

Ironically, Perkins had played a college basketball star in the 1960 campus farce film "Tall Story" opposite female lead Jane Fonda. At 10, Perkins moved to Boston and he later portrayed troubled former Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall in "Fear Strikes Out." But I digress.

When Roberts would enter an important game at a key juncture, especially in the playoffs, many Celtic fans would gasp or moan audibly, as if to say "oh, no not HIM." Certainly this home crowd reaction did not help his shaky confidence. Still, Fred was a high flyer, a good finisher in transition, a solid defender and a capable, if inconsistent scorer.

Roberts was one of three BYU grads on the Celtics of that era, along with former Cougar mates Ainge and Greg Kite. Coming to the defending champions from Utah as a free agent after the death of top pick Len Bias, Roberts felt a lot of pressure to perform.

With the myriad injuries n 1986-87 to Wedman, Walton, McHale and the death of Bias, Fred was pushed into playing more in big moments than he was probably ready for at the time.

That and his inconsistent usage helped the performance of Roberts become more up and down. For example, he scored 16 points off the bench in game two of the 1987 Finals, yet scored only six more total points the rest of the series. Puzzlingly, he did not even play in the pivotal fourth game, despite a short bench that fatigued the starters, brutal intensity and all the injuries.

I always wondered if Boston would have been better off starting Roberts in the 1987 Finals due to his health and athleticism, and moving the injured McHale to his old sixth man role to give the weak bench much-needed scoring punch off the pines.

As evidence of Fred's ability, however, Roberts scored 33 points for the Bucks in a 96-94 playoff loss to the eventual champion Pistons, a defensive juggernaut, in 1989.

DJ (Dennis Johnson)

Brent Musburger of CBS gave Dennis this nickname during the 1978 NBA Finals because his Seattle team and Washington had three players named Johnson playing key roles in the championship series. Predictably, Brent called John Johnson of the Sonics JJ and Charles Johnson of the Bullets CJ.

The short nickname stuck as Dennis led Seattle to the 1979 title, then won two more rings as a Celtic in 1984 and 1986. Bird, in his southern Indiana drawl, liked to call him "Dee-JAY", with the emphasis on the second initial.

Tiny, the Skate (Nate Archibald)

The diminutive Archibald got this nickname well before he joined Boston in the late 1970's. Generously listed early in his career at 6-1 and 160 pounds, he was even smaller than that in reality.

In fact, when he was a rookie with the Cincinnati Royals playing for Bob Cousy, security would not let him through the player's entrance to the arena because they did not recognize him and thought him too "tiny" and young-looking to be an NBA player.

Nate the Skate was simply a rhyming nickname referring to his incredible quickness.

Satch (Tom Sanders)

Defensive ace Tom Sanders was given the nickname Satch as a shortened version of Satchel Paige, one of his baseball heroes growing up in New York.

Everyone in the schoolyards of East Harlem where he grew up playing ball had a nickname. Sanders later led NYU to the Final Four and won eight NBA titles in Boston.

The Kentucky Colonel (Frank Ramsey)

The 6-4 Ramsey, an early swingman and the first great Celtic sixth man, was a native of Madisonville, Kentucky. He starred on the 1951 Kentucky NCAA title team and won seven crowns with the Celtics.

Ramsey later coached the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA in 1970-71, a team led by former UK stars Dan Issel and Louie Dampier.

The Incredible Hulk (Scott Wedman)

Sharpshooting forward Wedman was acquired from Cleveland in 1983 via a lopsided deal for draft bust Darren Tillis. A vegetarian and physical fitness buff, Wedman was one of the league's first major, non-center weightlifters.

He became so muscular that the Celtics called him the Incredible Hulk after the comic book superhero who also had a TV series around that time. The green color the Hulk would transform into when angry also fit nicely with Celtic green.

The Truth (Paul Pierce)

Paul Pierce's nickname was an example of his splendid all-around skilled game, which overcame a lack of supposed athleticism. It also seemed to be in response to Allen Iverson's contemporary nickname of "The Answer."

Reputedly, future Celtic teammate Shaquille O'Neal gave Pierce the nickname in 2001.

Boston's Mr. Clutch (Sam Jones)

Sam Jones was a contemporary of Laker great Jerry West, who was nicknamed Mr. Clutch. But the underrated Jones was called "the real" or Celtic Mr. Clutch by teammate Bill Russell because of his great shooting under pressure.

In nine career decisive playoff games, the bank-shooting Jones averaged 27 points per game to help lead his Celtic teams to a perfect 9-0 record.

His one-footed, off balance shot from the top of the key at the buzzer in game four of the memorable 1969 Finals tied the series 2-2 with a thrilling 89-88 win that allowed Boston to go on and win the title.

The championship won in LA 108-106 in game seven was the last game for Russell and Sam Jones, who won 10 titles in 12 NBA seasons. The consistent Jones scored 24 points in his final game and averaged 18.7 ppg in the 1969 Finals at age 35, a point over his career average of 17.7 ppg.

The Whale (Willie Naulls)

Naulls got his nickname Willie the Whale when he was a player at UCLA due to his rather ample waistline, especially for a basketball standout. At 6-6, he tipped the scales at 262 pounds in his debut for the Bruins, and frequently drew the ire of coach John Wooden.

During his pro career he slimmed down to around 225-230 pounds.As a key Celtic in his final three seasons of 1964-66, Naulls averaged 10 ppg in about 20 minutes of playing time as Boston won the championship each year. While he started much of the time, sixth man Havlicek got many more minutes.

Muncie Mortar (Ron Bonham)

Bonham was a standout long-range marksman from Muncie, Indiana, hence the mortar shot moniker. An NCAA champion at Cincinnati, he was a 6-5 reserve swingman for Boston in the mid-1960's who didn't get a lot of playing time with the talented Celtics.

He had his right thumb broken while fouling Wilt Chamberlain, which ruined his shooting hand and all but ended his career.

In high school, Bonham starred for tradition-rich Muncie Central and led them to the state finals. He was named Indiana Mr. Basketball and graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Hoosier high school annals, no small feat.

For his long-distance shooting skills, he was called Muncie Mortar as well as the blonde bomber, 15 years before another more famous blonde marksman from Indiana starred for Boston.

The Sheriff (David Thirdkill)

Thirdkill was a good defender and backup forward on the 1985-86 Celtic champions, arguably the greatest team in Celtic and NBA history. His tough-guy reputation was augmented by a large facial scar and his tough defensive style, hence the Sheriff.

Bags (John Bagley)

The stocky Bagley was the Big East Player of the Year at Boston College, and was a solid if unlikely-looking but clutch playmaker on the Celtics of the early 1990's. Bags was simply short for Bagley.

The Celtics seemed to have the market cornered on slower-footed, chunky Big East point guards with Bagley and Sherman "the General) Douglas of Syracuse, so named for his leadership skills and solid passing. Douglas played for Boston from 1991-95, averaging 11.1 points and 6.8 assists per game.

Doggie (Alvin Julian)

Red Auerbach's predecessor as Celtic head coach from 1948-50, Julian coached Holy Cross and Bob Cousy to the 1947 NCAA title. I could not find a reason for the Bucknell multi-sport standout's nickname, but liked it. 
Future Marquette NCAA champion coach Al McGuire started out as an assistant coach and head recruiter for Julian.

Doc (Chris Ford)

Steady Celtic guard and future coach Chris Ford was called Doc by his early 1980's teammates after he threw down an unexpected slam dunk over 76er star Julius "Dr. J" Erving.

Long Gene (Gene Conley)

Conley, the only man to win a World Series as a pitcher with the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Celtics, was a tall, lanky reserve on the NBA champs of 1959-61.

The 6-8, 220-pound leaper won 91 games in 11 seasons as a pitcher, and was a four-time All-Star who was the winning hurler in the 1955 mid-season classic. For five seasons the Washington state high jump champion played both major league baseball and in the NBA.

Big Bird (Brad Lohaus)

Lohaus was a perimeter-playing seven-footer long before imitating Dirk Nowitzki was fashionable. A blonde, large-nosed southpaw with a good if somewhat inconsistent shooting touch, he was a reserve for the Celtics from 1987-89.

The lanky Lohaus was traded to the Kings along with Danny Ainge and went on to play eight more years. Perhaps the slender seven-foot shooter out of Iowa was just before his time.

Big Baby (Glen Davis)

The tubby but nimble Davis was given his lifelong nickname by a youth football coach for crying when he was deemed too big to play peewee football.

He also had a notable crying fit as a key Celtic reserve and was admonished on the bench by Kevin Garnett. Nevertheless, Davis helped Boston win an NBA title as a rookie and was a solid reserve who also helped LSU to the 2006 Final Four.

Goose (Mel Counts)

The former 6-11 Celtic, Laker, Sun and Jazz center started out with Boston in the mid-1960's. The somewhat bumbling Counts helped the USA win gold at the 1964 Olympics, and starred for the 1963 Oregon State Final Four team.

He got his nickname from his gangly physique and long arms, reminiscent of long-limbed Globetrotter Goose Tatum. His Heisman-winning hoop teammate Terry Baker started at guard on the 1963 OSU national semifinalist club.

Employee Number Eight (Antoine Walker)

Walker, a no-conscience three-point bomber in the late 1990's and early 2000's, did a series of commercials calling himself "employee number eight" due to his uniform number.

Never Nervous (Pervis Ellison)

The 6-9 Ellison was called Never Nervous Pervis after he led Louisville to the 1986 NCAA title and won Most Outstanding Player honors as a mere freshman. Ellison scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Cardinals' tense 72-69 title game win over Duke.

The 1989 number one overall draft pick was chronically injured throughout his NBA career, and at one point he was cynically (and hilariously) re-nicknamed "How About Some Service Pervis."He averaged just 4.7 ppg and five rebounds for Boston from 1994-2000, appearing in only 193 games.

Pistol (Pete Maravich)

College basketball's all-time leading scorer earned the nickname Pistol Pete for his shoot from the hip style of getting the ball up to the basket as a spindly youth - as well as his volume shooting.

Pete Reiser, a hustling Dodger outfielder and 1941 batting champion who had his career shortened by repeatedly running into outfield walls, may have been the original Pistol Pete. Tennis great Pete Sampras also appropriated the nickname in the 1990's.

Maravich only played 26 regular season games with Boston in his final season of 1980, but he averaged 11.5 points per contest in just 17 minutes a game, and helped the Celtics to the league's best record in Bird's 61-21 rookie season.

The Black Hole (Kevin McHale)

McHale, who spent his first four seasons as a great sixth man, was nicknamed the Black Hole by Bird and Ainge for his reluctance to pass the ball, even out of double teams.

However, given the fact that McHale was nearly unstoppable inside and that he was a reserve early on, it is understandable that Kevin looked to shoot most times he got the ball.

Red (Arnold Auerbach)

Arnold Auerbach, like contemporaries William Holzman, Johnny Kerr and Eugene Rocha, was nicknamed Red for his hair color. For most of his career as Celtic coach and GM/president, his hair was gone on top, and then white.

Ukraine Train (Vitaly Potapenko)

Potapenko was a powerful, bruising post player out of Wright State via the Ukraine, and played in the much-maligned Pitino era.

Ray Ray, Sugar Ray (Ray Allen)

Allen, aka Jesus Shuttlesworth for his role in the Spike Lee film "He Got Game", was called Sugar Ray for his sweet, smooth game, a la boxers Sugar Ray Robinson and Leonard.

Sweet Due (Terry Duerod)

Duerod was the popular 11th man guard on the 1981 Celtic championship team, nicknamed for his likeable demeanor and sweet shooting stroke.

A good outside shooter who was a supportive teammate, he did not complain about a lack of minutes. When he did get in the game, he was sort of the human victory cigar of that time.

Duerod made six of his 10 three-point shots in 1980-81, and averaged 2.5 ppg in Boston that year. He played just 114 minutes in 32 contests.

The popular Duerod was let go when Boston signed Danny Ainge midway through the 1981-82 season.

Ziggy (Larry Siegfried)

A fine shooter who won a pair of NBA free throw percentage titles in the 1960's, Siegfried was a star at Ohio State and the best friend of Buckeye and Celtic teammate John Havlicek.

Ziggy, so nicknamed in the German-accented shortening of his surname, won five NBA titles with Boston. An athletic and steady 6-3 backcourt man, Ziggy was a combo guard who could handle the point or shooting guard duties capably.

He averaged 11.6 ppg in seven seasons with Boston before being snagged by Portland in the 1970 expansion draft.

The Tank (Bob Brannum)

Brannum was a bruising 6-5 power forward out of Michigan State for the Celtics from 1951-55. He averaged 6.2 points and seven rebounds a game for the Celtics in just 24 minutes per outing.
Also known as Beeb, presumably for his initials BB, he retired two years before the Celtics finally broke through as NBA champions.

White Mamba/Ginger Ninja (Brian Scalabrine)

Scalabrine was an underrated, versatile forward on the 2002-03 Net NBA runner-up teams, as well as the 2008 Celtic champs. A solid ballhandler, passer and shooter, the 6-9 redhead usually produced when given a chance to play. He was more athletic and skilled than his appearance may have let on.

Scal was a fan favorite humorously nicknamed the White Mamba in contrast to Laker star Kobe Bryant (Black Mamba). The reserve's hair color, penchant for hitting clutch three-pointers and pale skin also lent himself to being called the Ginger Ninja.

Jungle Jim (Jim Loscutoff)

"Loscy" was a very physical power forward on the Celtic title teams of the late 1950's and early 1960's. He was called Jungle Jim for his wild, all-out style of rugged play, and was often called one of the NBA's early hatchet men.

He wore #18 before a pair of other more skilled Celtics who also played with all-out intensity donned the number and made the Hall of Fame: Bailey Howell and then Dave Cowens.
Loscy averaged 6.2 points and 5.6 rebounds a game in 10 years for Boston from 1955-64, winning six titles.

Big Hesh (Harry Boykoff)

A three-time All-American at St. John's in the 1940's, Boykoff later enjoyed an acting career decades long after he retired from the NBA.

Possessing thick, bushy eyebrows, expressive ethnic features and a large physique, he made a memorable impression. He appeared in commercials and the film "Star Trek", was in "The Nanny" and "Frasier" on television, as well as the Warren Beatty film "Town and Country."

A 6-9, 230-pound center for Boston in 1950-51, Boykoff was the league's highest-paid player at $15,000 that season. He was nicknamed Heshie or Big Hesh likely as a reference to his Jewish heritage, with Hesh a derivation of Herschel.

One of the college game's first dominant big men, he was one of the centers, along with Mikan and Bob Kurland, responsible for rulesmakers instituting the defensive goaltending rule. Back then, big men could set up near the hoop and swat away opposing shots, or guide in teammate's shots that were a bit off.

Moose (Ed Stanczak)

The Fort Wayne, Indiana native played for the Celtics in 1950-51 with Boykoff. Although not known, presumably his nickname was for his muscular (for that time) build.

In 1949, Moose helped the Anderson (In.) Duffy Packers win the final NBL title before the league merged with the BAA to form the NBA.

KG (Kevin Garnett)

Garnett was given this nickname for his initials well before he became a valued Celtic from 2007-13.

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