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Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves has played in just one NBA season, appearing in 61 games for a 33-49 Lakers squad that missed the playoffs for the second time in four years.
Reaves has earned the respect of his Los Angeles teammates, including LeBron James, who told Lakers fans on social media they “have something special” in Reaves.
Austin Reaves (15) of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after hitting a 3-pointer against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena April 10, 2022, in Denver, Colo. (Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
But Reaves has a couple nicknames he reportedly would like to shed.
Reaves, who wears the number 15, picked up the nicknames “AR-15” and “Hillbilly Kobe” in his first year in Los Angeles, nicknames he’d like to move away from.
“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.”
Reaves is the second athlete to discuss moving away from the nickname “AR-15” after University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson distanced himself from the moniker last week following a wave of mass shootings in the U.S.
Austin Reaves of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles before a game against the Golden State Warriors April 7, 2022, at Chase Center in San Francisco. (Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images)
“After discussions with my family and much thought, I have decided to no longer use the nickname ‘AR-15’ and the current apparel line logo, which features a scope reticle, as part of my branding,” Richardson wrote on his website.
“While a nickname is only a nickname and ‘AR-15’ was simply a representation of my initials combined with my jersey number, it is important to me that my name and brand are no longer associated with the assault rifle that has been used in mass shootings, which I do not condone in any way or form,” .
Reaves, who went undrafted out of the University of Oklahoma, said he is hopeful that Lakers fans will come up with a new nickname for him as he enters his second season in the NBA.
Austin Reaves of the Los Angeles Lakers in action during the first half of a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena March 31, 2022, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
“I’m always open to new ideas,” Reaves said, according to ESPN. “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 started 19 games for the 2021-2022 Lakers, averaging 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 23.2 minutes per game.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report
Joe Morgan is a Sports Reporter for Fox News.