The time has come for KSR’s trusty readers to cast their second 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.
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 Skill-Based Nicknames:
The Bucket – Tyler Herro
When he isn’t making fashion statements with floral shirts and unbelievable haircuts, Tyler Herro is busy being a bucket.
Tyler Herro’s nickname of “The Bucket” is unique, seeing as he basically gave it to himself during a singular moment of trash talk. After Herro sunk a pair of clutch free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining in a game, the cameras caught Herro’s words directed at Arkansas player Mason Jones. The clip went viral and sparked debates online, as no one could really tell what he was saying. Laura Rutledge asked Herro about the moment afterwards.
“I know one of the kids on Arkansas, and we were just talking,” Herro said at the time. “He said I should miss one for him, but I knew I was going to make both.”
He didn’t even realize the cameras were on him, and he definitely didn’t expect it to catch on like it did.
“I didn’t expect it anything from it because I say that a lot,” Herro said during an appearance on KSR. “That wasn’t the first time I said it.”
Maybe that moment wasn’t so singular after all. Herro was actually quite the trash talker during his time at Kentucky, especially during road games. He was also known for his prolific free-throw shooting, which finished at 93.5 percent after his lone season in Lexington. When he was at that line, everyone knew he was a bucket.
He may not have expected his nickname to become so well-known, but it caught on immediately. Bucket signs began popping up at Kentucky games, and “I’m a bucket” t-shirts were quickly selling out across the Bluegrass.
What else can I say? The BBN loves a bucket.
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?’”
King Rex – Rex Chapman
Another beloved member of the BBN family earned a heartfelt nickname from the BBN during his time in the blue-and-white uniform.
King Rex Chapman was crowned upon his arrival to Lexington. When he came to UK, he was already a very-familiar face around the fanbase. The Owensboro native and Apollo High School sensation was named Mr. Basketball in 1986, and he further caught the BBN’s attention after a heated recruiting battle came down to Kentucky vs. Louisville.
He picked the Cats over the Cards once, and he dominated the competition in the years that followed.
He led UK during the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons by scoring 1,073 points before declaring for the NBA, where he was selected in the first round by Charlotte Hornets. He was inducted into UK’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
But King Rex didn’t go straight from the NBA to “Block or Charge” stardom.
In 2014, Chapman was arrested for shoplifting $14,000 worth of products from an Apple store in Arizona. That same year, he spent time in a rehab facility in Louisville, “determined break a reliance on suboxone, a medication prescribed to help patients stop using opioid-based pain medication.” By 2015, he stated he’d been battling a prescription pain pill addiction for 17 years, citing 10 surgeries during his 14-year NBA tenure.
He discussed his journey on a 2018 edition of the Matt Jones Podcast, available here.
It was a long and often-winding road for King Rex, but he rose above challenge after challenge. His transformation from a high school basketball standout, to King Rex, through years of struggles, to his present-day status as a social media star and community activist has been well-documented, including in ESPN’s E:60 feature and in his own words for Sports Illustrated.
Currently, Chapman is constantly going viral on Twitter and raising money for COVID-19 relief funds.
King Rex is still a force to be reckoned with in the Bluegrass.
Terry Touchdown – Terry Wilson
On the gridiron, Terry Wilson has been earning his nickname since before he arrived in Lexington. Terry Touchdown originated in 2013 when Wilson – then a high school sophomore – began his team’s season with a touchdown.
“First ball he ever touched in a high school varsity game, we ran a counter read and he pulled the ball and went for a touchdown,” Nick Warehime, Wilson’s former coach at Del City High School in Oklahoma, said. “His first high school play in a real game… We kind of knew then that he had something different.”
“The student section, they gave me that nickname and it really started clicking,” Wilson told the Courier Journal in 2018. “At first, I was like ‘alright, they’re just joking around,’ but I started calling myself that. It’s pretty cool. I like it.”
His sophomore year with the team ended that October with a broken collarbone, but he’d already scored seven touchdowns throughout his shortened season.
“It’s just nice to know people think that much of me,” Wilson told the Bluegrass Daily News in 2017. “It’s an honor to get a nickname like that,”
There’s always been some confusion among the BBN whether or not he’s Terry Touchdown or Touchdown Terry. If you ask Wilson himself, either is fine.
“Everybody gets it mixed up, so it really doesn’t matter,” Wilson said.
Terry Touchdown’s nickname and legacy at Kentucky are the only ones from this list that have not already been firmly cemented in the hearts of the BBN. In his time with the Wildcats, he’s recorded 13 total TDs (11 in 2018 and two in 2019 before suffering his season-ending injury during the second game of the season), but he’s not done yet.
Assuming college football returns in the fall, Terry Touchdown will be looking to back up his nickname and grow his legacy in the Bluegrass.
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?