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Why does Los Angeles Lakers’ Austin Reaves want to change his nicknames?

Nicknames are common, especially in professional sports - CR7, King James, The Refrigerator. Some are clearly better than others, and some are problematic.

Nicknames are common, especially in professional sports - CR17, King James, The Refrigerator. Some are clearly better than others, and some are problematic.
Katelyn MulcahyAFP

Playing a professional sport, and especially playing it well, will often earn you a nickname. Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie Austin Reaves, for example, earned the nickname AR-15. It’s not too difficult to figure out its origin - his initials are A.R. and his number is 15. The problem is that AR-15 is also the name of a semi-automatic assault rifle. That same rifle is the one which has been used in several mass shootings in the United States recently, including one which occurred at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas in May.

Related: US sports teams unite against gun violence

It’s no wonder that Reaves does not want that name associated with him in any way. The nickname was already new for Reaves, who grew up playing as number 12, which was already taken by Kendrick Nunn on the Lakers team. He chose 15, and gained the nickname AR-15.

“I don’t condone any gun violence that happens around our country,” Reaves said. “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.”

Yes, his previous nickname was Hillbilly Kobe, which is perhaps not as tasteless as AR-15, but well, it certainly could be better. So now Reaves tells ESPN he’s open to a new nickname. The University of Oklahoma graduate averaged 7.3 points on 46% shooting from the field and 84% from the free throw line, making a name for himself on the Lakers’ starting lineup…though what that name is will have to go through some adjustments.

If he continues playing the way he has, surely his talent and contributions to the Lakers will earn him a more respectable nickname that he can be proud to call himself.


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