The time has come for KSR’s trusty readers to cast their first ballot in the great nickname debate.
ICYMI: The BBN has had more than a handful of great nicknamed players over the years. But which one is truly the best in the program’s history? It’s hard to choose. That’s where you come into play.
Each day this week, I’ll be breaking down one “category” of nicknames. You’ve already voted on the best appearance-based nickname and the best skill-based nickname. Now, it’s time for the “Also-Known-As” category. More information is available here.
Here are some things to keep in mind before casting your final ballot:
How original is the nickname? Is it creative? How connected is that player to his nickname? How great did it sound over a broadcast when Cawood Ledford or Tom Leach got excited during a great play? Has it stood the test of time? How did the nickname come to be in the first place? A great “origin” story shouldn’t be overlooked.
Once you’ve made up your mind, cast your vote at the bottom of this post. Any tiebreakers will be decided directly on the KSR Facebook page.
Now, let’s get going with the Also-Known-As Nicknames, or nicknames that often serve as a substitute for a player’s actual first name.
DeMarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins
Considering “Boogie” is one of the most-recognizable nicknames in Kentucky basketball history, it doesn’t come with the same history, comedic backstory or even any fanfare as some of the other infamous nicknames. In fact, it simply started as an off-handed comment from Kentucky’s then-assistant coach, Rod Strickland.
“I would be playing ball and I would do moves that guards would do, and Coach Strickland said, ‘Man, you’ve got a lot of Boogie,’” Cousins told ESPN during his rookie year in the NBA. “Every time I walked into the gym, he would say, ‘What’s up, Boogie?’ and it just stuck.”
Alternatively, Boogie wasn’t the only option for Cousins’ nickname. At one point, KSR’s own Matt Jones wanted to call him “Carl.” They discussed it on the radio show during a live remote last summer, and, well, Cousins didn’t exactly love the idea. It made him say a bad word. You can hear the entire thing (minus the bad word) here.
— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) July 19, 2019
Even though Boogie was the name that stuck, Cousins didn’t always appreciate it. By April 2019, the former Cat wanted to move on completely, saying the nickname connected him with someone he isn’t anymore.
“I don’t want to be Boogie,” Cousins said. “I just wanna be DeMarcus.”
Jack ‘Goose’ Givens
Not unlike Cousins, 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.
Cory ‘Poop’ Johnson
For every player who resists his nickname, there’s a Poop Johnson. The former Kentucky defensive lineman earned the nickname in 2014 when he told LEX18 his weight fluctuated regularly based on his bowel movements.
“I’ll be 290, next day I’ll be 300. Next day I’ll be 280,” Johnson said at the time. “It goes on its own…I guess ‘cause I poop so much… I try to poop five times a day, three times a day. It’s hard to keep weight when you’ve got so much coming out.”
The 6-foot-3, (sometimes) 300-pound athlete recorded 77 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery during his two years with the Wildcats. But of course, he’s typically remembered for his nickname. He found a way to use it as fuel.
“It motivates me. If I play bad, then people are going to call me ‘Poop,’ for real.”
Although Poop saw a 2-10 season during Stoops’ first year in Lexington, he saw the same potential so many recruits have seen since then.
“Some people would watch the season that just went by and might say something negative, but I see nothing but positives,” Johnson said. “The fan base is amazing, so if you could get a winning season at Kentucky, I know it would be probably one of the greatest things you could experience.”
After his time at Kentucky, Poop spent time with the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs during the 2016 and 2017 offseasons, then spent two season with Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League. Last year, he spent a few months with the Toronto Argonauts before being released by the team during free agency last July.
We have released the following players: American DB Crezdon Butler, American DT Poop Johnson and American RB Tyrell Sutton.
— Toronto Argonauts Media Relations (@ArgonautsMR) July 10, 2019
You know the nickname stuck when a professional team tweets it as if ‘Poop’ is actually your first name.
Lukasz ‘Woo’ Obrzut
It’s hard enough to hide when you’re seven feet tall. It’s even harder when the sound “WOOOOO” follows you everywhere you go. His thick accent and lovable personality made ‘Woo’ a fan favorite for years in the BBN, and he’s since become part of our KSR family.
Way back when (in 2006), KSR’s fearless leader Matt Jones wrote about his own love for Woo, calling him “the ultimate team player” for Tubby Smith’s Wildcats.
There are serious reasons to love Woo. There is no one who takes more pride in wearing the Kentucky jersey than Lukask Obrzut. I still remember him saying to me after the Louisville game last year that he wanted to win because “the whole world loves Kentucky basketball, and I do too.” He hustles, he scraps and he takes whatever role that Tubby Smith gives him and puts 100 percent into it. He is the ultimate team player.
And then there is the goofy. Whether it be the answers he gives in the media guide to the questions (two favorites: Question: what food did you eat growing up that you dreaded? Answer Dry Steak. Question: what fact do people not know about you that is interesting? Answer: I speak polish) or his hilarious camouflage hat that he wore during the SEC Tournament (“Matt, it is time to go to battle”), Woo always brings a smile to my face. One of the highlights of my year was watching Woo, Shagari [Alleyne] and Jared Carter in a dunk contest early before one game, and seeing Woo attempt dunks that he had no business trying (like the Vince Carter between the legs dunk) and making a team that was often divided, come together in laughter.
These are a few of the reasons the BBN came to love Woo during his time in Lexington. Shortening Lukasz (pronounced WOO-Kosh) was how the fanbase repaid him.
Wallace ‘Wah Wah’ Jones
Wallace Clayton Jones earned his nickname at a young age. And like Woo, it grew out of convenience.
Before the Harlan native became an All-American for Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant while also finding time to earn All-SEC honors in baseball and letter in track, he was just a kid with a hard-to-pronounce name. His younger sister, Jackie, struggled with the name Wallace. She’s the one credited with tabbing the multi-sport star as ‘Wah Wah’ when they were young.
He was one of the original members of the Fabulous Five, a gold medal winner in the 1948 Olympic Games in London, a two-time National Champion in basketball and the only player to be elected as a “Living Legend” for both football and basketball in the SEC. He was also a member of the inaugural Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame.
After he retired from the game(s), Jones went on to serve as the Sheriff in Fayette County and the founder and president of Blue Grass Tours charter bus and tour company. To this day he’s considered one of the best “all-around” athletes the state of Kentucky has ever seen. He was honored at Big Blue Madness in 2012.
When he passed away in July of 2014, Mitch Barnhart said it best.
“The word ‘legend’ is used frequently in our society but it is truly fitting when considering Wah Wah Jones,” Barnhart said at the time. “Wah Wah holds a legendary place in the athletic history of our state.”
With a legendary nickname to match.
Edrice ‘Bam’ Adebayo
Like Wah Wah, Adebayo’s nickname goes way back… Way back. As the story goes, little Edrice flipped a coffee table over while watching The Flintstones, much like the show’s character Bamm-Bamm Rubble. His mom gave him the nickname then and there, and it stuck.
“She just felt like it fit,” Bam told USA Today High School Sports in 2015. “Everyone’s been calling me that ever since… Other people hype the name and, hey, I just let it ride.”
Bam’s nickname stands out (even among this list) because it’s so engrained with his daily life. Even his ESPN profile lists his name as Bam. His “real” name is rarely said, at least not from the broadcast booth during Kentucky games or throughout his time with the Miami Heat.
“Bam Bam” became a major part of the broadcast during most Kentucky games that season.
Throughout his four years 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 SkyWalker 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.
We’ve reached the end of the list for today, so it’s time to cast your vote. There are a lot of good options in this collection of nicknames, but which one is your favorite?
Because there are so many options today, the top two nicknames who receive the most votes will advance to the Final Four. Then, they’ll compete against “Hefty Lefty” and “Monster Mash”