There's a lot to love about sports, like the excitement of close games and the thrill of playoff races. We admire the pure ability of great athletes and watch them closely as they work hard to be the best. Sometimes players get nicknames based on these abilities. Other times, they earn nicknames based on their personalities. This NBA season, LeBron James has been all over the news. Fans and reporters have started calling him King James, because he is arguably the best player in basketball. Throughout sports history, there have been many other great nicknames for popular players. Here are some of our favorites:

Babe Ruth: The Babe is probably the most famous athlete of all time. However, not everybody knows that his real name is George Herman Ruth. He earned the nickname "Babe" when he was a teenager playing minor league baseball. That was just one of many nicknames that The Babe earned throughout his career. As he became the greatest home run hitter that baseball had ever seen, his list of nicknames grew: the Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout and the King of Swing.

Air Jordan: Before Michael Jordan came along, few pro basketball players were known for playing above the rim. Jordan, however, changed the game. He amazed fans with the way he soared through the air during his magical dunks and seemed to hang in the air forever. Jordan defied gravity, earning this legendary nickname.

Shoeless Joe Jackson: Playing in the minor leagues in the early 1900s, Joe Jackson bought a new pair of cleats. Midway though the game, the cleats were giving him a blister so he took them off. He ran out to play third base in just his socks, and everybody started calling him Shoeless Joe.

Sweetness: There wasn't much not to love about Walter Payton. The Chicago Bears running back was one of the great players of the 1970s and 80s. He helped the Bears win Super Bowl XX in 1986 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. He earned his famous nickname not only because he was a pleasure to watch, but also because he was such a nice person to be around.

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