A Lion King Is Born: The Origin of Justin Anderson's Nickname ‘Simba'

OKLAHOMA CITY -- There's "The Process," "Sauce" and now "Simba" on the Sixers.

Justin Anderson came to Philadelphia with a nickname he has had since childhood. There's no secret meaning. "Simba" is from exactly what it sounds like -- the Disney blockbuster "The Lion King." 

Anderson was only a year old when the film was released in 1994. Growing up, it became his favorite movie as he drew a connection to the main character. 

Anderson liked that Simba was protective of his father, Mufasa, who was killed by Simba's jealous uncle in a plot to inherit Mufasa's throne. He also liked that Simba "was the cool kid on the block" and didn't back down to adversity. In the movie, Simba flees the kingdom after believing he was to blame for his father's death and later returns to take back the throne. 

Anderson explained how he transformed from "Justin" to "Simba:"

"Obviously, it comes from 'The Lion King.' It's my favorite movie. Even I'll watch it today. Actually, I found it was Jahlil's (Okafor) favorite movie as well. I love the character Simba. My mom knew. He's just cool, he's relentless, all over the place, excited, hyper. 

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"As I got older, I loved the character even more because 'The Lion King' is one of those movies where you keep learning underlying themes as you get older, life lessons and things as you keep watching. You just saw how relentless he was. 

"'Lionhearted' was a thing. Players talked about being lionhearted and I felt like I played like that. Going through high school, it was something was low key. My teammates would just call me that. I didn't make it a big thing. But then I changed my Instagram handle to YoungSimba23 in high school and it kind of caught on. 

"Then I got to college and I made it (Instagram) HooNamedSimba, as in (University of Virginia) Wahoo. Our broadcast guy, said, 'Dude, that's pretty sick. That goes exactly along with how you play.' For me, I was excited to hear that. I had a beard, a little mane if you would, in college and the NBA too. Then from there, he just said it and then it just caught on.

"I got to the NBA, Dallas, and got popular in Texas. Now I'm in Philly and one of the first tweets the Sixers tweeted at me with was like the lion. Every year it just progressively got bigger. I'm just waiting for my big moment in my career and I'm sure it'll take off." 

You won't find Anderson's home filled with Simba stuffed animals, but he may have something even better. He said his labradoodle Penny (yes, named for Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway) looks like the real thing.

M y S o n. #Penny

A post shared by Justin Anderson (@jusanderson1) on Dec 28, 2016 at 8:26am PST

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