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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Who are UK’s Top 5 Living Icons?


This has been a bad year for music icons as both David Bowie and Prince have passed away.  An argument could be made that each was a Top 5 music icon at the time of their death.  And it led to an interesting conversation amongst friends and social media about who the Top 5 music icons alive are now following the death of Prince.  Now what makes a music icon?  I think longevity and worldwide recognition are the top 2 factors.  Having a long career at or near the top of the music world and having the ability to be recognized by a large majority of people.  If people wouldn’t know you if you were standing in front of them, I’m not sure how big an icon you are.  For instance, some argued Robert Plant should be considered.  I would argue most people wouldn’t know if he was eating at the table next to you.  My opinion on the current Top 5:

  1. Sir Paul McCartney: 1 of 2 unarguable locks
  2. Madonna: The other lock.
  3. Bob Dylan
  4. Mick Jagger
  5. Stevie Wonder (even though he isn’t blind)

Others under consideration would have to be Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and Bono, in my opinion.  And I would bet 30 years from now we might see Justin Timberlake or Taylor Swift on that list but not for a while.

But let’s bring this back to UK land.  What would the 5 for UK (in all sports) be?  Remember, these people have to be living.  My top 5:

  1. Dan Issel: The greatest college career in UK history by a looooonnnnnggggg way.  The best pro career.  This can’t be questioned him being #1.
  2. Joe B. Hall: Done more for his image and popularity after his coaching tenure than during it.  Still had a great tenure too.  Will be a sad day when he passes.
  3. Goose Givens: Best nickname.  Best single game clutch performance.  Still easily recognized by all fans.
  4. Kenny Walker: I don’t know if he’s one of the 5 best players in UK history, but he’s remained around the program, always shows huge support for the team and remains a fan favorite.
  5. Rex Chapman: Despite his recent struggles, UK fans still love the King.  He’s an icon.

Now, this list doesn’t mean there aren’t other icons still living for UK.  I think Jamal Mashbuirn is a living icon.  Pat Riley is an icon although not as much for his UK days.  Hell, John Calipari should probably be considered for this list and he certainly would make it sooner than later but I’d like to see him coach 10 years before we give him Top 5 icon status.

What do you think?  Who should and shouldn’t be on the list?

By the way, of the players/coaches who have had a jersey retired at Rupp, a total of 26 of 43 still remain alive (Hagan, Ramsey, Evans, Rose, Bird, Burrow, Hatton, Cox, Nash, Dampier, Riley, Issel, Grevey, Givens, Robey, Macy, Bowie, Walker, Feldhaus, Farmer, Woods, Pelphrey, Mashburn, Delk, Hall, Pitino)

Article written by Bryan the Intern

28 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Who are UK’s Top 5 Living Icons?

  1. shelby
    8:07 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    Hmmm. I would have to put Steven Tyler above Dylan and Stevie wonder. How about George strait, Garth brooks, and Stevie Nicks–I would put all of them above Dylan and Wonder.

    • CapitalBlue
      10:12 am April 27, 2016 Permalink

      You should take this comment out into a field, Mozambique drill it, douse it with kerosene, light it on fire, bury it, and then salt over its grave.

  2. za
    8:16 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    This might be the worst post I’ve read on this site.

  3. CatK
    8:21 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    There are more than the top five artistes you listed. Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Sting, Pete Gabriel, Elton John, Bono(U2).

    Issel, Hall, Macy, Walker, Chapman… More recent. Tubby(Say what you will), Wall, Cousins, Davis, Murray, and Ullis will all be part of this conversation in 20 years.

  4. kevin823
    8:31 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    As much as I hate to admit this, Pitino should be a legend for obvious reasons. He brought the program back from its lowest point ever, won a title with one of the greatest UK teams ever assembled and played an unforgettable brand of bball. I would put Mashburn and Delk in that group too.

  5. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    8:34 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    What a horrible article this is. I like the idea of it fine, but Robert Plant was the lead singer for Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was the guitarist. Talking about Joe B. Hall passing away. Saying Stevie Wonder isn’t blind. Mentioning Madonna at all.

  6. CATSby90.5
    8:56 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    “This has been a bad year for music icons as both David Bowie and Prince have passed away.”
    — No mention of Merle whatsoever?

    • Duuuuuude
      9:01 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

      Glenn Frey

  7. LesIsMoreKY
    8:56 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    I think the guitarist you are looking for is Jimmy Page. I agree that Elton John should be a lock for top 5.

    What about the Unforgettables? That name alone suggests they are icons. I know Richie is as recognizable as any but his reputation has suffered. No one has mentioned a single football player. What about Tim Couch or Derrick Ramsey? Probably not top 5 but worthy of mention.

    • Duuuuuude
      9:03 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

      Art Still? And what about Valarie Still who scored more points in her career than any other male basketball player?

    • Sentient Third Eye
      9:29 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

      You bring up a good point. This is supposed to be for all sports, but BTI’s top five were all basketball. Couch, Art Still, Dermonti Dawson, Derrick Ramsey, And Valerie Still, for women’s basketball, must be mentioned. And what about Brandon Webb in baseball? Jenny Hansen, in gymnastics, is the only person in history to win three consecutive individual national championships in her sport.

  8. fauxbobknight
    9:12 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    Dan Issel, Rick Pitino, Calipari, Karl Towns & Tyler Ulis (which means honorable mention for Dan Dakich LOL)

  9. Sentient Third Eye
    9:30 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    My Top FIve UK Icons:

    1. Dan Issel
    2. Valerie Still
    3. Tim Couch
    4. Brandon Webb
    5. Jenny Hansen

  10. Sentient Third Eye
    9:31 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    My Top Five UK Icons (Mens Basketball Only):

    Honestly, I could go with BTI’s list on that.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      10:43 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

      I’m not sure what the criteria is. I would agree that Joe B. Hall is an icon. And Dan Issel although I’m not sure I would recognize him other than his height. I feel Jamal Mashburn is more iconic than Rex Chapman…maybe it is just my age.

  11. Nerds
    9:56 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    This is one of those “articles” that should be lead out to pasture and shot.

    • ukbradstith
      10:21 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

      95% of people wouldn’t recognize Page or Plant if they were on stage performing Led hits.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      10:36 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

      Robert Plant is considerably more recognizable than Bob Dylan who made BTI’s list. What is the criteria for an “icon”. Is it that they are recognizable only? I think Seal would be very recognizable…or Rod Stewart…doesn’t really make them icons.

  12. Willis Wolf Tattoo
    10:04 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    Including Garth Brooks in that discussion and not even mentioning Sir Elton John is beyond horrible. I would also probably include Eric Clapton.

  13. leshearer
    10:51 am April 25, 2016 Permalink

    Rex Chapman does not belong in the conversation. I mean, so many Great Players that could be on that list. Chapman bailed, and never really accomplished anything noteworthy in the pros. Forget the off-court issues, because everyone messes up in their lifetime. Art Still and George Blanda deserve consideration, for certain. I would even put Kyle Macey on the list in front of Chapman…

    • CatBlue in LR
      12:26 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

      These are LIVING icons. I believe Mr. Blanda has left the building…

    • catsincebirth
      2:11 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

      First off, I think this is more of an opinion piece than a factual piece, so to each his own (including BTI). Secondly, sorry but for anyone who was old enough to follow UK hardcore in the 80’s I do view Rex as iconic. He was a KY kid who was semi-legendary before he even came to UK. His play against rivals such as Louisville and Tennessee was the stuff I remember. He also played with such a flair and athleticism that really stood out. Again, to each his own.

  14. nybrasky
    1:22 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

    Even before his struggles, putting Rex here is a stretch and I would put Mashburn or Couch over him. Hell, I may even put Kyle Macy. Since his struggles, he’d definitely be replaced by any of those three or Anthony Davis and John Wall (the two most ‘iconic’ of the Cal era & Davis has a ring).

    For Walker/Rex’s spots it comes down to 2 of these: Walker, Couch, Mashburn, Davis, Wall, Still, Macy.

    Or, you can count the Unforgettables as 1 like we do with the banner, and they’re in the conversation.

    • nybrasky
      2:59 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

      Add Randle Cobb to the mix as well.

  15. Kentucky Chrome
    1:52 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

    I would argue Dolly Parton has a place on that list, obnoxious as she may be.

    Relative to UK’s most iconic folks… I think at this point you have to include Anthony Davis, right?

  16. Supa
    3:18 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

    Axl Rose and Slash are more iconic than most of your list. And I doubt in 30 years anyone remembers Taylor Swift.

    Kenny Walker is definitely top 5. Did you watch him play?

  17. CatGotMyTongue
    9:11 pm April 27, 2016 Permalink

    Randall Cobb, Dermonti Dawson, Dan Issel, Tim Couch, Wallace Jones.