Lakers Star LeBron James Gifts Austin Reaves Viral New Nickname

Getty Images Austin Reaves of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Austin Reaves hit a huge game-winner against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday and quickly garnered a viral new nickname from his Los Angeles Lakers teammate LeBron James.

James has taken pride in dubbing his teammates with interesting nicknames — from the GOAT, Alex Caruso, to Dennis The Menace, aka Dennis Schroder, and Andre Drummond’s Drum Dog Millionaire label. While Reaves initially became known as Hillbilly Kobe, he’s leaving that moniker in the past. Reaves will now be known as AR-15, which are his initials plus his jersey number.

“Extremely proud and excited for AR-15,” James said referencing the rookie’s nickname, which became a trending hashtag on social media after his game-winner in overtime. So perhaps it’s a nickname popular that was popular in smaller circles prior to the big shot against the Mavs, but it’s likely all he’ll be known by from now on. An if Reaves keeps rising up for big shots, it’ll make a ton of sense.

Back in the locker room, Reaves got the royal treatment in the locker room for his first NBA game-winner.

“We don’t go around playing the game or doing what we do and try to get somebody’s expectations of us,” James told reporters after the game. ‘We try to talk about what we need to do on the floor, and things of that nature. As a group — that’s all the matters. How we collectively carry each other, how we collectively hold each other accountable, and how we continue to celebrate each other when one has a moment. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Reaves Humble in Early Success With Lakers

Austin Reaves, Lakers

GettyLakers rookie Austin Reaves.

Outside of a brief stint of being out due to injury, Reaves couldn’t have asked for a better start to his career, capitalizing on his opportunities. With the Lakers shorthanded due to COVID-19 protocols, Reaves played nearly the entire fourth quarter and overtime, logging a season-high 32 minutes. Reaves was grateful to be celebrating in a room full of NBA veterans, who couldn’t have been happier for him.

“You don’t see that much, especially with the type of guys that we have on this team — six Hall of Famers and then all the guys that have been in the league for 10-12 years. So, really just the genuineness of it is just special,” Reaves told reporters after the game. “I’m lost for words. I mean, I’ve grown up watching all of these guys play, so for them to … for me to even just be teammates with them is special.”

Reaves was an undrafted free agent and there was little fanfare when the Lakers brought him aboard, with more attention going to Mac McClung and Joel Ayayi.

“I mean, it’s basically been the story of my life,” Reaves said. “I’ve always been underrated. Didn’t go to a big high school, so didn’t get recruited much, but at the end of the day, you got to produce on the basketball court and for me to hit that shot, for my teammates to have the trust in me to take that shot is very, very special.”

Reaves Credit Level-Headed Approach to Game

Just before Reaves hit the game-winner he was being ripped into by James, who was lecturing him over Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber getting free for the game-tying 3-pointer.

“The discussion was that I messed up on defense,” Reaves said of the intense conversation. “I didn’t get to the shooter, or whatever. He made the shot. But, I mean, it’s basketball. The other team is trying to achieve something, too. So, things go wrong, things go right, but I don’t think so. I try to just stay level-headed throughout everything regardless of who I’m playing or what teammate I’m playing with. I think it’s kind of just my nature and my mentality is just even-keeled. Never too high, never too low.”

Thanks to Reaves’ heroics, the Lakers have won six of their last eight and are starting to make a move up the Western Conference standings. LeBron, AR-15 and the rest of the Lakers will look for another win Friday against Minnesota.