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. Today, it’s the appearance-based ones. 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 Appearance-Based Nicknames:
The Brow – Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis became synonymous with his unibrow during his time at Kentucky, eventually going so far as to actually trademark the terms “Fear the Brow” and “Raise the Brow” during his single season in Lexington. Even though he couldn’t make money off of the “Brow” merchandise in college due to NCAA eligibility rules, he knew he’d be able to eventually. He leaned into the nickname that began as an insult.
“I don’t want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me, and then try to make money off of it,” Davis told CNBC at the time. “Me and my family decided to trademark it because it’s very unique.”
The university had to work on his behalf to ensure the trademarks were being respected
“We sent a half a dozen cease-and-desist letters,” said Jason Schlafer, the school’s associate athletic director for marketing in 2012. “But towards the end of the season, people were getting really creative.”
The unibrow is a look only a mother could love. And clearly, she does.
AD is still constantly referencing (and profiting) from The Brow. Just the thought of shaving it seems to be enough for a reoccurring April Fools Day prank from the former Wildcat, so people must still be falling for it. Either way, it’s clear he’ll never really lost the unibrow (the hair or the nickname).
Twin Towers – Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin
This is a unique nickname, even on this list, as it features not one but two Wildcats. In an era where full teams acquired nicknames, this particular group never found one that stuck. Settled in the decades between iconic names like Rupp’s Runts and the Untouchables and Unforgettables falls this 1984 team. Instead of one name to represent the entire group – which went to a Final Four, by the way – the team became known for its big man duo.
“We didn’t have an official nickname as a team,” Kenny Walker, who was a sophomore on the ’84 team, told Mark Story and the Herald Leader in 2014. “That team was far more known for the ‘Twin Towers,’ Bowie and Turpin, than for any team nickname.”
The actual twin towers located in the World Trade Center in New York City had just been built in the early 1970s, and they briefly held the record for tallest buildings in the world (before being surpassed by the Willis /Sears Tower in Chicago). But the Sears Twins just didn’t have the same ring to it.
Although the Twin Towers nickname became synonymous with the duo, they each earned their own nicknames, too. Sam Bowie was occasionally referenced as Sam ‘Boo’ Bowie. For Turpin, it was “Dinner Bell Mel,” a moniker based on his struggles with his weight and conditioning regimen.
Turpin died by suicide in 2011 at just 49 years of age. The Twin Tower duo was no more.
“Melvin Turpin’s name will forever be alongside of mine. I’ll be forever thankful for the contributions he made to make my game look better,” Sam Bowie said after his teammate’s tragic death. “There’s no way I would have been the second pick in the NBA draft if it wasn’t for Melvin Turpin. There’s no way I’d be in the position I’m in today if it wasn’t for Melvin Turpin’s self-sacrifice for the betterment of Sam Bowie.”
“Let the commonwealth know they lost a good human,” Bowie continued. “We were more than just teammates.”
I wasn’t around when the Twin Towers graced UK’s campus, but multiple websites have referenced the “mascot on stilts” Kentucky unveiled during the early 1980s to pay homage to the duo. I can’t find photographic evidence anywhere. Can anyone confirm this is real? If the Twin Towers really did lead to a Wildcat mascot walking around Commonwealth Stadium and Rupp Arena on stilts, I’d have to award bonus points.
Baby Magic – LeRoy Byrd
Listed at just 5-foot-5 and weighing in at 145 pounds, Byrd remains the shortest Wildcat to play at Kentucky. The Lexington native was a standout at Bryan Station High School before signing with UNLV. After just one season, he made the decision to transfer home and play for the Wildcats.
He played just 24 total minutes during his first two seasons in Lexington, and he appeared in 22 games during his final year in the uniform. He finished his collegiate career with 41 points and 29 assists.
He’s best known for his short stature and the accompanying nickname, Baby Magic.
In 2018, Baby Magic himself caught up with Oscar Combs and relived his playing days at Kentucky.
You can listen to their full-length conversation here:
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.”
Here at this website, it’s no secret Jared Lorenzen was and always will be part of our KSR family. We miss the Hefty Lefty everyday.
Jorts – Josh Harrellson
Josh Harrellson was a beloved figure for the BBN. His jorts… not so much. The big man became known for his jean shorts thanks to this very website. That’s right – Kentucky Sports Radio basically invented the name ‘Jorts.’ The story is a good one…
Harrellson first arrived on UK’s campus for the football team’s annual spring game, and someone snapped a picture of the recruit wearing a pair of snug jean shorts during his visit to the Joe Craft Center. Somehow, KSR’s own Matt Jones got ahold of “the free throw picture” and uploaded it to this very website. The “Jorts” nickname only grew from there. He didn’t seem to mind.
“Everywhere I go, people call me that,” Harrellson said at the time. “I get a kick out of it. I don’t mind the nickname at all. I actually like it because I think it identifies me.”
He retold the story himself just last week, when KSRs current videographer Bradley McKee caught up with the former Wildcat.
As the years wore on, the BBN became more and more obsessed with the jean short “trend” Harrellson brought to Lexington. During his senior night, the Rupp Arena crown fully embraced the name.
“Seeing everybody wearing Jorts shirts or wearing jean shorts, that just puts a smile on my face.”
In 2011, KSR held our own “Jorts” day. Matt Jones wrote an article (available here) about how Harrellson offered to help, and even sent in some funny pictures to contribute to the day’s fun. Unfortunately, those pictures now seem to be missing, lost somewhere within the internet as it was in 2011. If anyone has them… You can send them to me on Twitter. @MaggieDavisKSR and I’ll add them back into the post.
His Jorts weren’t the only lovable part about Harrellson. Relive his best ten moments as a Wildcat here.
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?