They Call Me Goose
My Life in Kentucky Basketball and Beyond
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Sales Date: 03/05/2024
When Jack "Goose" Givens first walked onto the basketball court at Lexington's Douglass Park for the legendary Dirt Bowl league, it was the beginning of one of the most illustrious sports careers in Kentucky history. After being named 1974's Mr. Basketball for the state of Kentucky as a high school senior, Givens signed with the University of Kentucky and went on to amass a string of achievements that place him among the all-time greats in NCAA college basketball—most notably leading UK to the 1978 NCAA Men's National Championship with his 41-point performance against the Duke Blue Devils in that historic game—and being named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for that year.
They Call Me Goose: My Life in Kentucky Basketball and Beyond is an intimate and all-encompassing look at the life and career of the basketball legend, from growing up in a housing project in Lexington, his success with UK men's basketball through his years with NBA's Atlanta Hawks and the Japan Basketball Association, his career as a college and NBA television color analyst, to his recent appointment as a commentator for the UK Sports Network. Givens shares personal and endearing stories from his childhood—how he was initially interested in baseball instead of basketball, the summers spent with his grandmother in Danville, Kentucky, and the teachers and coaches who guided and supported him along his journey. He also speaks candidly about his experiences with poverty, ruinous financial debt, the blowback from sexual assault allegations, and how his faith and his family helped sustain him through hardships and challenges. In collaboration with journalist Doug Brunk, Givens presents fans with the powerful story of a husband, father, mentor, businessman, and ambassador for Kentucky—who also just happens to be an iconic sports legend.
Foreword, by Ralph E. Hacker
2. Growth Spurt
3. Movin' On Up
4. "Come to Kentucky!"
5. "How Did You Get So Good?"
6. The Road to San Diego
7. NIT Champs!
8. Rolling Along
9. Back to the Final Four
10. Life in the Pros
11. Low Point
13. A Matter of Reputation
14. Back to the Bluegrass State
15. The Ties That Bind
About the Author
About the Coauthor
Jack 'Goose' Givens is one of the most beloved figures in Kentucky basketball history. Any fan is going to love Jack's honesty as he walks you through the highs and lows of his life's journey. From his humble upbringings, to being a trailblazer and champion at UK, to finding his path beyond basketball, Jack is as determined to inspire through the lines within these pages as he once was between the lines on the hardwood. This is a must-read for the entire Big Blue Nation, any basketball fan or anyone who wants to learn how to overcome life's challenging moments.~John Calipari, head coach, Kentucky men's basketball
Jack's basketball story is a dream that is still dreamed today by many young players—to grow up to play for the Kentucky Wildcats and to be a star. Jack is a legend for his accomplishments at UK but there's so much more to his story than that incredible performance in the national championship game against Duke. I have followed his career since his high school days at Bryan Station and I have enjoyed working with him calling Sweet 16 games and, more recently, as part of the UK Radio Network. I really enjoyed learning so much more about his story than I ever knew, and I know all Wildcat fans will enjoy this book as well.~Tom Leach, the "Voice of the Wildcats," UK Radio Network
Finding out what we didn't know about 'Goose' is why I couldn't put the book down. Jack and Doug Brunk have you walking a mile in his shoes. That's huge! I understand why he rooted for Texas Western over UK. I understand why a proud black man likes the name Rupp Arena. And, how a kid who grew up not wanting to walk in the white neighborhoods of Lexington has turned into one of UK's terrific ambassadors.~Alan Cutler, longtime Lexington television sports anchor and reporter, coauthor of Cut To The Chase
Jack Givens, will in my mind, always stand out as the greatest performance of any UK Basketball Player in a National Championship Game with 41 points in 1978's win over Duke. This memoir resonates because it shows how one of the first African American players at UK who was home grown in Lexington, remains and continues to grow as one of the most beloved players in UK Basketball history. He shows how his great personality and character has transformed time with his relationship with his teammates as well as the Big Blue Nation. I know you will enjoy this great read.~Jim Host, coauthor of Changing the Game
Kentucky basketball fans want to know as much as they can about their players or the team. That's why this book by Jack Givens and Doug Brunk is a must read for all UKBB fans. Jack digs deep on a wide variety of subjects and gives you the reader, insights never revealed before. Heck, I've know Jack since 1976 and consider him a close friends but even I learned things about Jack that I didn't know!~Kyle Macy, Kentucky All-American and coauthor of From The Rafters of Rupp
Jack Givens' personality is one of a rather calm demeanor. Always, the unknown factor was how Jack or any recruit would react and perform under the bright lights. Little did we know that beneath Jack's calmness was tremendous toughness and the talent of a champion!~Dick Parsons, former UK national champion assistant coach
Jack 'Goose' Givens' performance in the NCAA Final in 1978 was a true March Madness magical moment. His 41-point game vs. Duke to spark Kentucky and Joe B. Hall to the 1978 title is legendary. Jack was a genuine solid gold PTPer (Prime Time Player).~Dick Vitale, college basketball broadcaster, ESPN
I knew about 'Goose' Givens the basketball player, but I didn't know Jackie Givens the man. His story is one of perseverance, hard work, and overcoming many obstacles not of his making. Like me, you will have even more respect for Jack after reading his book!~Dan Issel, former UK basketball star and NBA Hall of Famer
The year before I went to UK, the guy I looked up to from afar was Jack Givens. In high school I tried to emulate Jack's game and demeanor. He earned 'Mr. Basketball' honors at Bryan Station High School and just seemed like a great guy. Once I arrived at UK and met him, played with him, lived in Wildcat Lodge, and won a NCAA Championship with him my admiration for "Goose" only multiplied. To this day he is one the classiest guys I have ever met. He is a true friend! As we grow older my admiration for Jack continues to grow.~Dwane Casey, former head coach of the Detroit Pistons
I covered Jack Givens' career from the time he was a rising star at Bryan Station High School, through his All-America performances at Kentucky. Since then, he has become a broadcast partner, colleague, and friend. This book helps me re-live those days but also helps me know him even better. Jack takes us not just through the glory but also the trying times that few of us ever knew about. It's an honest account of a life that's known incredible thrills and frightening heartache, all of which have combined to produce a man well worth knowing. As a silky, left-handed shooter, Jack was a marksman. This book is another bullseye.~Dick Gabriel, host, Big Blue Insider radio show
I first crossed paths with Jack Givens in Lexington's Bluegrass-Aspendale neighborhood more than 50 years ago, and we have been friends ever since. Reading Jack's book brought back great memories of competing against him in high school for three years to sold-out crowds (him for Bryan Station High School and me for Henry Clay High School), and then joining him as a teammate for the University of Kentucky Wildcats in 1974. Four years later, we helped bring a NCAA national championship back to Lexington after a 20-year drought. Jack had one of the greatest games of his life in St. Louis, scoring 41 points, and for me to end that game with a dunk was the greatest night of our friendship! There are few people prouder of Jack and his accomplishments in life than me.~James Lee, former UK basketball star
Having covered the UK basketball program for over 50 years, I can honestly say there has never been a team which enjoyed greater influence over the Big Blue Nation than 1978 NCAA champions. The "Goose" was certainly 'gold' the night he scored 41 points as UK beat Duke 94-88 in St. Louis. Off the court, Jack Givens is one of the friendliest people you'll ever meet–seemingly always takes time for a chat with fans or to sign an autograph. But the emotions and openness in the way Jack writes in this book about certain times of his life gave me chills. I learned things I never knew about adversities he faced and overcame. You are sure to be inspired from reading these pages.~Oscar Combs, founder and former publisher of The Cats' Pause
Jack Givens has written a book that every fan of UK basketball should treasure. It's poignant, powerful and perceptive on so many levels, and Doug Brunk has provided the support to make this must reading. Enjoy.~Neil Amdur, former sports editor for The New York Times and producer, "Win or Else"
Jack Givens was the right player at the right time for the University of Kentucky. He was a good player who had tremendous character. He stood out because of his play on the basketball court and as a stellar student-athlete. The respect that Jack earned from the people of Lexington quickly extended more broadly throughout the state of Kentucky. He was a player and a person that all the citizens of the commonwealth were immensely proud of. Jack and his high school teammate, James Lee, were well-known for their positive energy on the court. Both players hailed from great high school programs in Lexington, and each brought the enthusiasm and positivity that had been instilled in them to the basketball program at the University of Kentucky. Ironically, I recruited both Jack and James when I was at Austin Peay, and they were in their first years at Kentucky when I began to work for Coach Hall.~Leonard Hamilton, head coach, Florida State University men's basketball
Jack Givens and I entered UK as freshmen in 1974, were co-captains of the 1978 NCAA Championship Wildcats, and have remained close friends ever since. By reading this book I learned so much more about Jack than I ever knew. He shares important advice to draw from when life throws you curve balls.~Rick Robey, former UK basketball star
When I witnessed Jack Givens' historic 41-point performance in the 1978 NCAA Championship game I was a young coach at Hoke County High School in Raeford, North Carolina, trying to make my way. Jack became a hero not only to me, but to the young men I was coaching—many of whom were also African Americans like me. The "Goose" inspired us then, and he inspires us now with his powerful life story.~Orlando "Tubby" Smith, former head coach, Kentucky men's basketball