How Lakers Guard Alex Caruso Really Feels About His ‘Bald Mamba’ Nickname

A Lakers fan favorite, Alex Caruso is known for his scrappy play and tough defense. His entrance into the NBA was anything but easy, so the guard enjoys his time in the spotlight. Now, a key contributor to the Lakers’ success and LeBron James’ secret weapon, Caruso is the spark the team needs. He also takes a lot of ribbing from his teammates — mainly for his looks.

While his appearance isn’t that of a typical NBA player — maybe an accountant or tech geek — Caruso turned his regular-guy looks and male pattern baldness into a profitable gig.

Alex Caruso’s tough road to the NBA

Alex Caruso of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after being called for a foul
The Lakers’ Alex Caruso being called for a foul | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Making it to the NBA wasn’t easy for Caruso. He played college ball for the Texas A&M Aggies, averaging 8.0 points and 4.7 assists per game. After going undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft, Caruso spent time in the NBA Summer League with the Philadelphia 76ers. He eventually signed with the NBA’s G League. In 2017, he joined the Lakers Summer League and finally moved up to the big time, playing his first NBA game in October 2017.

Caruso might not put up the big numbers, but he doesn’t need to. There are other guys on the team for that. Instead, he does the little things to help change the course of the game. He’ll play tough defense that results in a turnover or make a shot to change the entire game’s momentum. Things like that can’t be taught, and it’s one of the reasons fans and teammates love Caruso.

Anthony Davis, Caruso’s teammate, only had praise to give when talking about him to SI. “He’s not the highest-paid or has all the accolades or the credentials. And a lot of people don’t notice him. But he plays the right way. He locks up defensively. He makes tough shots. He’s scrappy.” 

Alex Caruso doesn’t mind his ‘Bald Mamba’ nickname

He’s scrappy, but fans have better nicknames for him. Called Bald Mamba or Bald Eagle, Caruso is quick to embrace the love. Telling GQ, “For me, coming from being undrafted and going through the G League, the fact that I just had fans that were excited to give me a name or celebrate some success? I was all for it. I know their intentions are right and there’s never a harmful sense to it. It’s mostly Lakers fans.”

Bald Mamba has his own signature look too. From his receding hairline to his headband, fans instantly know it’s him on the court. He even has his own headband celebration move — another reason he’s loved by fans and teammates alike. 

Caruso takes advantage of his baldness

Caruso partnered with Manscaped, the men’s grooming brand last year, to raise money for testicular cancer by completely shaving his head. The partnership led to his first endorsement deal with the company, promoting the Lawn Mower, a body grooming trimmer for the groin area. As for his receding hairline, Caruso doesn’t give it much thought. “Whatever you want to do, do it. That’s honestly for hair, for life. So you want to go get a toupee, you want to put some plugs in, go for it. If you want to shave it all, shave it all. At the end of the day, it’s your life.”

He’s joining an elite crew of other famous bald athletes, like tennis star Andre Agassi or soccer great Zinedine Zidane. And of course, one of the greatest basketball players of all time was bald: Michael Jordan. But it’s not his looks that matter; it’s Caruso’s ability to create plays and change the course of the game that makes him a key component of the Lakers. 

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