In a dark cloud of a season in Los Angeles, Austin Reaves was the silver lining for the Lakers. Undrafted out of Oaklahoma, Reaves earned a spot on the roster than in the rotation with his hustle, defense (one of the few Lakers playing it last season) and high IQ game. Frank Vogel and the coaching staff trusted him and by the end of the season he was playing more than 20 minutes a night (he averaged 7.3 points a game).
Lakers fans were drawn to him, and soon were trying to give him nicknames — “AR-15” and “Hillbilly Kobe” were the most prominent two (Reaves wears No. 15).
Reaves wants to move on from those nicknames, particularly AR-15, he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“I don’t condone any gun violence that happens around our country,” Reaves told ESPN. “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.”
Usually I would say you don’t get to choose your nickname, but Reaves has a point in this case. Not wanting to be associated with a weapon all too often used in mass shootings around the nation is legit (it was the weapon used in the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 people, 19 of them children, dead). Not wanting to be tied that way to the late Lakers’ legend Kobe Bryant also is understandable.
Reaves said he is open to a new nickname if Lakers fans come up with one.
“I’m always open to new ideas,” he said. “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.”
Reaves will be back in the rotation for the Lakers this fall, although exactly what that rotation will look like remains an unanswered question.