Austin Reaves is need of a change.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard revealed to ESPN he’s hoping to distance himself from two nicknames that emerged last season: “AR-15” and “Hillbilly Kobe.”
“I don’t condone any gun violence that happens around our country,” Reaves 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.”
The undrafted University of Oklahoma product was a bright spot for the Lakers, despite the forgettable 2021-22 season where they missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record.
Reaves is open to receiving a new nickname from the Lakers’ fan base.
“I’m always open to new ideas. 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 averaged 7.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for the Lakers last season. He became a fan favorite for his strong defensive play as well.
His discussion about the nicknames comes after University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson posted a statement Sunday about his decision to move on from “AR-15”:
Reaves said he saw Richardson’s remarks and applauded him taking a stance.
“I’m happy for him. I want him to use his voice,” Reaves told McMenamin. “Everybody should be able to speak freely on what they believe. I feel like more people need to take stands like this and say what they’re really feeling because that’s how you get things brought up. That’s how you pose questions to raise eyebrows and look into things.”