The most well-known Steve Francis nickname is clearly Stevie Franchise. He got the name in his early days in the NBA when he was doing absolutely everything for his Houston Rockets teams. Francis was also called Wink as a child and put that name on his Sneakers: the Reebok Wink DMX.
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Why was Steve Francis nicknamed Wink?
Steve Francis grew up in Takoma Park, Maryland, a city that is part of the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. His childhood featured many difficulties including having a father who served twenty years in federal prison.
At times in his childhood Francis lived with more than a dozen people in a small apartment in Takoma Park. He spent a lot of time in the streets and started dealing drugs at a very young age.
Francis did not end up playing much basketball in high school because of the tough stuff in his life. He played only two games in high school for six different schools.
Possibly the worst thing that happened to him was the loss of his mother when he was only 17. Francis’ mother Brenda passed away of cancer and at that point he withdrew from school completely.
During his difficult childhood, he got the name wink. We do not know exactly where it came from but we know it was a name Francis liked because he chose to name his sneakers after it.
After Francis’ third season, Reebok put out the sneakers. In the advertising for the Wink Reebok DMX, Francis is quoted as saying:
“It’s the hottest thing to touch the earth since I was born.”Stevie Franchise
This sneaker review says the shoes were just average, but Steve Francis was most certainly not an average player!
Why was Steve Francis’ nickname Stevie Franchise?
After barely playing in high school, Francis got attention on the AAU circuit and ended up at junior college where he dominated. The attention he got at junior college, including a night where he had a quadruple double with the Maryland coach Gary Williams in attendance, led him to play for his hometown University of Maryland Terrapins in the ACC.
Francis was a 2nd team All American in his one year at Maryland and then declared for the draft. He forced his way out of Vancouver after being drafted 2nd overall by the Grizzlies and landed in Houston.
Houston looked like they might be teaming the young phenom with both Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon, but both Hall of Famers were hurt and missed most of Francis’ rookie season.
It was in that rookie season that he became Stevie Franchise. As a 6’3” inch guard, Wink did it all: he averaged 18 points 5 rebounds and 6.5 assists as a rookie. He was everything for that team and people started calling him, rightly, Stevie Franchise.
Francis went on to do everything for the Rockets over his first five seasons and for two more with Orlando. Francis was not just a shooter or scorer. He averaged 6 assists and 5.5 rebounds for his whole career.
He had the sick crossover that people could not stay in front of and for, about seven seasons, he was The Franchise.
Alas, things did not break Steve Francis’ way forever. After those seven pretty strong seasons, he fell apart suffering from knee injuries that robbed him of his otherworldly quickness and from the difficulties of a life hard-lived.
It is widely reported that Francis suffers an alcohol addiction and he has had multiple run-ins with the law in retirement including at least one DUI. I certainly hope he finds his way.
Francis’ career tailed off after he was traded from Orlando to the Knicks and did not turn around in a second stop in Houston. But for those early years, he was incredibly entertaining to watch and he was The Franchise.
Did Steve Francis Have Other Nicknames?
If you check his basketball reference page, they say Steve Francis had the nickname city. I can find no references to this outside the basketball reference page itself.
I’ll have to take their word for it. They are certainly right when it comes to the stats!
Summary: Steve Francis’ Nickname
Steve Francis had one nickname that all fans knew him by: Stevie Franchise. He earned that name in his early NBA years with the Houston Rockets by filling up the stat sheet and doing everything for his team. Francis was also called Wink as a child and named his Reebok shoes after that nickname.
I have been a Boston sports fan for more than forty years. I write about games, players and seasons from the past.