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The definitive 2019-20 Boston Celtics nickname primer

The Celtics are fun again. Let’s enjoy it.

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Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Don’t look now, but the Boston Celtics are fun again. They’re playing with joy in a manner that seemed impossible just one year ago. That’s for the best. Basketball is meant to be fun. With all the positive vibes in the air, we’ve decided to dive into one of the game’s more lighthearted topics: nicknames.

What follows is a full review of nicknames for each player on the team, using those highlighted by as a starting point and a mixture of the internet and some good old fashioned creativity to reach a verdict on the best option for everyone on the roster.

These aren’t meant to be set in stone, so feel free to disagree or agree with them as much as you want. But please, if you don’t like one, make sure you’re coming with an alternative option. No one likes a Negative Ned with no solutions.

Jaylen Brown

Basketball Reference: JB, Old Man

JB seems to be the nickname du jour for Jaylen Brown’s teammates, but Old Man is undeniably intriguing. Our friends the Rainin J’s (formerly of Locked on Celtics fame now of Locked on Celtics and also Anything is Poddable fame) tried to get a joint Gin and Juice nickname started for Brown and teammate Jayson Tatum. It didn’t quite stick, but Juice is clearly the cooler of the two options, associations with O.J. Simpson notwithstanding.

There’s still plenty of room in the world for further exploration of a tandem nickname that is better than The Jays, but for now lets dance with the one we came with.

Verdict: JB works.

Jayson Tatum

Basketball Reference: J, Taco Jay

The fine folks of the Open Floor podcast have taken to calling Jayson Tatum “Twelve Time Tatum.” It has a pleasant ring to it, but it’s a moniker made with the utmost snark, meant to poke fun at Celtics fans that think Tatum’s ceiling includes double digit All-Star appearances. That won’t work for the Boston fan base.

All of the above is really just wasting time though. Taco Jay is possibly the best nickname on the team. It’s really more of something of an alter ego. If you’ve never experienced Tatum eating tacos on Instagram - which is really just Tatum eating mountains of shredded cheese - then perhaps the name means nothing to you. That will change once you have.

Verdict: Taco Jay is unimpeachable.

Gordon Hayward

Basketball Reference: None

It’s somewhat shocking that a player of Gordon Hayward’s stature doesn’t have a single nickname on Basketball Reference. Some refer to him as Gordo, but that’s a bit too on the nose for his bro-y aesthetic. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of great alternatives floating around. If he had his way, Hayward would have everyone in the crowd chanting “Daddy’s always happy” for him, so it’s probably not best to seek input straight from the source in this instance.

I’ve always appreciated Hayward’s transformation from a spindly mop-headed youth into a well-groomed young man - a la classic 90’s teen romance She’s All That. If you’re unfamiliar with the film, Freddie Prinze Jr. - big man on campus - makes a bet with his friend that he can’t turn art nerd Rachael Leigh Cook into the school’s prom queen. Spoiler alert: turns out Cook is a real looker when she combs her hair, much like Gordon Hayward - professional athlete - is when he cuts his (to some at least - yours truly not included).

Cook’s character’s name, you ask? Laney Boggs. Sounds like a nickname to me.

Verdict: See above.

Semi Ojeleye

Basketball Reference: Semi, Muscles Jesus, The Ox, Thor, The Ojeleye Factory, The Man Made of Granite

I have never once heard anyone refer to Semi Ojeleye as Muscles Jesus, but that’s a hell of a nickname. All respect given to weirdcelticstwitter and The Ojeleye Factory, an undeniably great nickname, but Muscles Jesus is an 11 out of 10.

Verdict: Muscles Jesus.

Robert Williams

Basketball Reference: Timelord, Boo Butt

Shout out to The Riffs Man for speaking Timelord into existence. Boo Butt is a pretty solid option as well, and was bestowed upon Williams by his mother which gets it extra points, but there is just too much momentum for the former at this point. Boston’s bouncy big man is even regularly referred to as Timelord by the Celtics’ broadcast crew, in a major victory for the internet.

Verdict: Timelord.

Marcus Smart

Basketball Reference: Cobra

Basketball Reference should be ashamed. Cobra is fine, but it’s more a reference to a signature move of Smart’s - the Cobra Strike - than an actual nickname. Any self-respecting Celtics fan that is even the slightest bit online knows that Smart’s actual nickname is Smarf, a reference to a truly bizarre (and bordering on disturbing) puppet character in a 70’s/80’s sitcom theme song parody video.

Verdict: So weird it’s not worth investigating to closely, but Smarf is the answer.

Romeo Langford

Basketball Reference: None

There’s gotta be some sort of low hanging fruit related to Romeo and Juliet to be taken advantage of here. Let’s workshop this moving forward.

Verdict: Still to be determined.

Grant Williams

Basketball Reference: The General

The General? Like the little cartoon man in those strange commercials with Shaq? Or the team that the Globetrotters used to beat up on all the time? It’s actually a reference to Ulysses S. Grant apparently, but it invokes too many uninspiring options. We can do better than this.

I’ve begun calling Williams General Operating Grant, as a nod to my full-time job writing grants for a nonprofit and a reference to the fact that he basically makes everything operate more effectively without any restrictions on how he can be used. I consider it a vast improvement over The General, but acknowledge it’s a tad niche.

Verdict: General Operating Grant for me. Choose your own adventure for you.

Kemba Walker

Basketball Reference: None

Kemba doesn’t need a nickname. His name is Kemba.

Verdict: Kemba.

Carsen Edwards

Basketball Reference: C-Boogie, Eddie House

It tickles me that one of Carsen Edwards’ nicknames is just the name of an older player he reminds people of. Eddie House was a delight to watch, and Edwards’ game does smack of House’s, but we should let him be his own person.

Some have referred to him as a bucket for his propensity to score the ball. Others have fascinated on his ludicrously muscular thighs (100% of the people I’ve watched a game with that hadn’t seen Carsen Edwards before remarked on the size of his legs and the tautness of his shorts - no joke). Podcast megastar Sam “Jam” Packard may have struck the perfect chord between the two worlds by calling him Meat Buckets.

Verdict: Meat Buckets, until otherwise challenged.

Daniel Theis

Basketball Reference: None

My wife - much like Daniel Theis - is German, so it comes as no surprise that the third-year big has no nickname to me. The Germans are an efficient people, with no time for the frivolity of nicknames. I say this in jest, but the German language is, in fact, very straightforward in its description of things (though not its rules), so let’s come up with something that fits.

Verdict: Der Basketballspieler. It means the basketball player.

Enes Kanter

Basketball Reference: Enes The Menace

Unfortunately for Enes Kanter, his most well-known nickname is “can’t play Kanter” a reference to a comment his former coach Billy Donovan once made about whether or not Kanter could hold up in the postseason, which Donovan alleges he never said. Some have tested out “can play Kanter” as an alternative, but it conjures a few too many memories of the original.

We’ll stick with Basketball Reference for this one.

Verdict: Enes The Menace. It fits with his image as a general irritant to opponents.

Brad Wanamaker

Basketball Reference: None

My cursory internet searches for Brad Wanamaker nicknames yielded nothing to add to Basketball Reference’s list of nothing. Just a heads up, maker and misser jokes are quite a bit of fun, but they’re not nickname material.

Wanamaker always gets the job done with few frills or fanfare. He’s a real professional.

Verdict: The Professional.

Tremont Waters

Basketball Reference: H20 Kid

Like Waters. Get it? H20 Kid it is!

Verdict: H20 Kid.

Javonte Green

Basketball Reference: None

You don’t need a nickname when you can dunk like Javonte Green. People are too busy staring at you in amazement to call you anything.


Tacko Fall

Basketball Reference: None

Tacko is perhaps the person in the world least in need of a nickname. He’s got universal name recognition already. People show up to games dressed in taco outfits.

Verdict: No nickname required.

Vincent Poirier

Basketball Reference: None

Before we dive into nicknames, make sure you’ve watched this video of Vincent Poirier. He’s incredibly endearing. The big takeaways are that he loves his dog, and he wants people to know he’s friendly. I’m particularly partial to the part where he mentions how busy his day is and then basically proceeds to explain how all he does is eat, workout, rest, and sleep.

None of that really matters. The most important thing is that he is French. I don’t know who coined the name “Le Grand Baguette,” but there’s no topping that.

Verdict: Le Grand Baguette.

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