By Dan Collins

Each of the 31 pictures clues a nickname associated with a (current or former) NBA basketball player, sorted in alphabetical order by last name.

Player Name Nickname NBA Teams Played For
Shareef ABDUR-RAHIMReefGrizzlies, Hawks, Trailblazers, Kings
Ray ALLENJesus ShuttlesworthBucks, Supersonics (today, Thunder), Celtics, Heat
Stacey AUGMONPlastic ManHawks, Pistons, Trailblazers, Hornets, Magic
Charles BARKLEYRound Mound of Rebound76ers, Suns, Rockets
Larry BIRDThe Hick From French LickCeltics
Matt BONNERRed RocketRaptors, Spurs
Kobe BRYANTBlack MambaLakers
Glen DAVISBig BabyCeltics, Magic, Clippers
Kevin DURANTSlim ReaperSupersonics (today, Thunder), Warriors
George GERVINThe IcemanSpurs, Bulls
Harold HAIRSTONHappyRoyals (today, Kings), Pistons, Lakers
Anfernee HARDAWAYPennyMagic, Suns, Knicks, Heat
Kirk HINRICHCaptain KirkBulls, Wizards, Hawks
Allen IVERSONThe Answer76ers, Nuggets, Pistons, Grizzlies
Šarūnas JASIKEVIČIUSJazzy CabbagesPacers, Warriors
Joe JOHNSONIso JoeCeltics, Suns, Hawks, Nets, Heat, Jazz
Andrei KIRILENKOAK47Jazz, Timberwolves, Nets
Moses MALONEChairman of the BoardsBraves (today, Clippers), Rockets, 76ers, Bullets, Hawks, Bucks, Spurs
Vernon MAXWELLMad MaxSpurs, Rockets, 76ers, Magic, Hornets, Kings, Supersonics (today, Thunder), Mavericks
Xavier MCDANIELX-ManSupersonics (today, Thunder), Suns, Knicks, Celtics, Nets
Earl MONROEEarl the PearlBullets (today, Wizards), Knicks
Steve NASHHair CanadaSuns, Mavericks, Lakers
Hakeem OLAJUWONThe DreamRockets, Raptors
Shaquille ONEALThe Big AristotleMagic, Lakers, Heat, Suns, Cavaliers, Celtics
Robert PARISHThe ChiefWarriors, Celtics, Hornets, Bulls
Paul PIERCEThe TruthCeltics, Nets, Wizards, Clippers
David ROBINSONThe AdmiralSpurs
Dennis RODMANThe WormPistons, Spurs, Bulls, Lakers, Mavericks
Brian SCALABRINEWhite MambaNets, Celtics, Bulls
Rik SMITSThe Dunking DutchmanPacers
John WALLOptimus DimeWizards

The last names of the players can then be filled into the grid as below. As the flavor text suggests, a cluephrase can be read off from the crossings between two players that have played on the same team, highlighted in yellow. In all of these cases, it’s actually a team that both players are strongly associated with.

        N                                           H          
        A                         J A S I K E V I Č I U S          
        S       W   B               U               N          
        H A R D A W A Y     M       G               R O D M A N          
                L   R       A       M               I          
  M C D A N I E L   K I R I L E N K O               C          
      U             L       O       N         A     H          
      R         I V E R S O N                 L                
      A             Y   M   E                 L                
      N                 I           P I E R C E                
      T       J         T   M       A         N                
        B     O         S C A L A B R I N E       B            
A B D U R R A H I M         X       I           R O B I N S O N
        Y     N   O L A J U W O N   S             N            
  O N E A L   S   N         E       H A I R S T O N            
        N     O   R         L                     E   B        
        T     N   O         L                 G E R V I N      
                  E                                   R        
                                                      D A V I S

The highlighted letters fit into the blanks below the grid to spell out HARDEN, PER HOWARD. Dwight Howard gave the nickname STEP DADDY to his then-teammate James Harden, and this is the final answer (and fits into the enumeration for the image cluing that Allen Iverson is The Answer).