Over the past few days, KSR’s trusty readers have been casting their ballots for the best nickname in BBN’s history.
I narrowed the list down to 16 famous nicknames from throughout the BBN’s long and storied history. Of course, there are more out there, but these are the names I consider to be the most recognizable and well known in the year 2020. They come from both football and basketball and span the course of decades. Based on your votes, we’ve arrived at a Final Four: Hefty Lefty, Monster Mash, Kenny ‘Sky’ Walker and Jack ‘Goose’ Givens.
Now, it’s time to cut the final four to the final two.
Hefty Lefty – Jared Lorenzen
Jared Lorenzen was known by a plethora of names during his time in Lexington and throughout the remainder of his football career. There was no shortage of monikers thrown his way, but the Hefty Lefty is one of the most memorable.
From the Pillsbury Throwboy to the Abominable Throwman, Lorenzen found a way to embrace them all with a good attitude.
“I love them. I absolutely love them,” Lorenzen once said of his various nicknames on The Jim Rome Show. “All of these, I love them. I was given them in college, and there were websites dedicated to these things.”
Monster Mash – Jamal Mashburn
Jamal Mashburn is one of the most beloved figures in Kentucky basketball history. His stellar career with the Wildcats culminated in a memorable junior year.
That season, he averaged 21 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game, earning First-Team All-American, SEC Player of the Year and All-Tournament honors in the process. He was taken as the No. 4 overall selection by the Dallas Mavericks in 1993, where he became one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA over the course of his career. He finished as a career 19-point-per-game scorer, made an All-NBA team in 2002-03, and made an NBA All-Star team. His jersey hangs in the rafters of Rupp Arena.
Basically, he was a monster.
He didn’t always think so.
“I don’t really take it to heart,” Mashburn said in a 1992 story by the LA Times. “It’s just one of those nicknames that say the opposite of what you are. I mean, I occasionally play like that.”
The nickname started during his time at Kentucky, and he says it still resurfaces from time to time. Before his son, Jamal Mashburn Jr., grew up and starting making a name for himself on the basketball court as a 2020 prospect, he was a 10-year-old kid who believed the Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett song was referencing his dad, according to a 2011 story by the Kentucky Forward Newspaper.
“My son runs around the house reciting all the words,” Mashburn said in the interview. “He says, ‘Dad, are they talking about you?’”
Kenny ‘Sky’ Walker
Throughout his time in Lexington, Kenny ‘Sky’ Walker picked up four All-SEC honors and two All-American nods. He served as one of the last great talents to stay in college all four years, scoring 2,080 points along the way.
His nickname quickly morphed from just plain Walker into Sky Walker once the BBN witnessed his premier dunking abilities. He could leap from nearly anywhere on the court, and he often finished his plays with a jam. The 1980s featured some infamous dunks, and Sky Walker still found a way to stand out among the best.
Before long, the Skywalker went from dunking on college freshmen to competing against professionals.
His signature moment in the NBA came in 1989, when the former Cat entered the league’s dunk contest. House money was on someone with a nickname of his own – Clyde ‘The Glide’ Drexler. When his father died just three days before the competition, Walker considered sitting this dunk out. After receiving some encouragement from his mom, Walker decided to compete, and his winning dunk became legendary.
Jack ‘Goose’ Givens
Jack ‘Goose’ Givens didn’t always lean into his nickname. He was first tabbed ‘Goose’ in high school, when some of his classmates said he looked like a well-known Harlem Globetrotter, Goose Tatum.
“Of course at that time, I didn’t like it and that made them call me ‘Goose’ even more,” Givens told The Gleaner in 2017.
Eventually, he learned to embrace the moniker. He didn’t really have a choice.
“I introduce myself as Jack and they’ll say ‘No, that’s not your name. Your name is Goose,’ like it’s on my birth certificate,” Givens continued.
The name may not be his given one, but it served him well at Kentucky.
We’ve reached the end of the list for today, so it’s time to cast your vote. Who should win today’s first-round matchup?
The top-two nicknames will become finalists. The winner will be decided on Friday.