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#pounditThursday, September 29, 2022

Lakers guard looking to ditch controversial nickname

Austin Reaves in warmups

Nov 6, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Austin Reaves (15) warms up prior to a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

One Los Angeles Lakers player is officially on the hunt for a new nickname.

Lakers guard Austin Reaves told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin this week that he is looking to ditch the controversial “AR-15” nickname he got as a rookie last season. Though the nickname is a play on Reaves’ initials and jersey number (No. 15), Reaves is looking to distance himself from its association with gun violence. Reaves also said that he would like to phase out another nickname he has gotten, “Hillbilly Kobe,” out of respect for the late Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

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

“I’m always open to new ideas,” Reaves went on. “Because there is always another one that might stick and could be better than another one that was previous. So I’m always open to new things and for people to really open up their brains and kind of think of new things for me. That stuff helps us out too in branding situations and stuff like that.”

The 24-year-old Reaves shares other thoughts on the “AR-15” nickname as well as the season to come for the Lakers in the interview with McMenamin. You can read it in its entirety here.

After entering the league as an undrafted rookie, Reaves became a cult hero of sorts for the Lakers fanbase last season with his surprisingly strong play. He put up 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game, carving out a consistent role in the rotation with his defense, hustle, and shotmaking.

Reaves’ decision to shed his controversial nickname is very similar to what another athlete in a different sport also did earlier this week.

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