Kansas to Retire Mario Chalmers' Jersey
Jan. 24, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Former KU basketball standout Mario Chalmers will have his No. 15 jersey retired at halftime of the ESPN College Gameday Texas at Kansas men’s basketball game Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013.
Chalmers was the 2008 Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player on Kansas’ NCAA National Championship team, but is most widely known for his game-tying three-pointer in the title game in KU’s 75-68 overtime win against Memphis.
“Mario definitely deserves to have his jersey hung,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “He was the most outstanding player in a 2008 Final Four, which featured four number one seeds. He was as clutch of a player as we’ve ever had here. He was a guy that seemed like the bigger the stage, the brighter he shined. He had an orneriness and toughness that a lot people didn’t see because they saw the smile. He was an assassin on the court.”
Chalmers’ lists of accolades go much deeper than the aforementioned. The Anchorage, Alaska, native was the 2007 co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and an All-Big 12 Second Team selection during his junior year. He appeared on the league’s all-conference teams all three seasons he was a Jayhawk, including every Big 12 All-Defensive squad.
Besides his 2008 Final Four MOP, he was named to the Big 12 Championship All-Tournament team in 2007 and 2008, the second of which was bestowed on him after he scored a career-high 30 points against Texas in the title game.
Statistically, Chalmers led the Big 12 in steals with 97 in 2007 and 97 again in 2008, which are Kansas single-season records. His 89 steals in 2006 are a KU freshman record and his 283 steals from 2006-08 are second on the school’s career chart list, trailing only Darnell Valentine’s 336 from 1978-81. His 1,341 three-year Kansas point total rank 27th on the KU all-time scoring list and he also is among the school career records in three-pointers made (7th, 180), three-pointers attempted (10th, 430) and assists (14th, 420).
During Chalmers’ three seasons at Kansas, the Jayhawks were 95-16 (85.6 percent) with three Big 12 regular-season titles, three Big 12 postseason championships, two NCAA Elite Eight appearances, one Final Four and one NCAA National Championship.
“Mario cares about winning,” Self said. “Points are great and steals are great and he was the best stealer of the ball we’ve ever had here, but he cares about winning. Guys that play here understand that winning trumps everything and he understood that. Brandon (Rush) understood that, Shady (Darrell Arthur), Sherron (Collins), Sasha (Kaun), Darnell (Jackson), Russell (Robinson), they all understood that. That is what made that (2008) team so cool. There were games when Mario would take four shots in a game and I’d say, `shoot the ball’ and he’d say `Why? Everybody else is making shots.’ It was such a fun team to be around, but he was clutch. Everybody throughout his tenure here would ask me who’s our go-to guy and in our players’ minds there was never a doubt who our go-to guy was. There are not many guys out there, regardless of the school, that have held that distinction. Mario will be remembered for the shot but I will remember him more for being a winner.”
Selected 34th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Chalmers was later traded to the Miami Heat. A two-time NBA Finals competitor, he joined elite company when his Miami Heat team won the 2012 NBA title. Chalmers joined former KU great Clyde Lovellette in becoming only the second Jayhawk to win both an NCAA National Championship and an NBA title. Like Chalmers, Lovellette, who was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in November 2012, was a Most Outstanding Player (MOP) when KU won the 1952 NCAA Tournament. He later won three NBA titles with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1954 and the Boston Celtics in 1963 and 1964.
“I’m proud of the career he has had since he left here,” Self said. “Being a world champion and a national champion, there’s not too many people that could have that distinction. He was an absolute treat to coach. He had great teammates and they all liked each other. It was such a fun time to be around. We’re all so proud of what he accomplished.”
Chalmers becomes the second Jayhawk in the Bill Self era to have his jersey retired. Former KU consensus All-America honoree Wayne Simien, who played at Kansas from 2002-05, had his No. 23 jersey retired during the 2010-11 season.
Becoming a near-yearly tradition in Lawrence, ESPN College Gameday will originate from Allen Fieldhouse for the fifth time in the eight-year history of the show.
Former Jayhawk Legend Mario Chalmers
On having his No. 15 jersey retired and hanging in Allen Fieldhouse:
“It is a great accomplishment and it makes me proud to be a Jayhawk.”
On if he expected that KU would someday retire his jersey:
“I wouldn’t say I expected it, but you know something? One of my goals when I first went to KU was to make a name (for myself) and make sure my name lasts forever in Kansas history.”
On how often do people bring up the shot to him:
“Not as much anymore. It’s been five years, so I don’t hear about it as much anymore.”
On how he was able to achieve something as prestigious as having a jersey retired:
“Just by working hard every day. I had great teammates. We had a family atmosphere, great coaching with Coach Self, Coach (Joe) Dooley, Coach T (Kurtis Townsend) and my dad (Ronnie Chalmers). It was a great system at KU.”
On remembering the first time he looked up in the rafters at all those different names and what his impression was:
“The first time would probably be Late Night 2004 when I went to it. Just being there for the first time, experiencing the atmosphere, just seeing what KU was all about.”
On recognizing the names he saw in the rafters:
“I recognized a lot of those names. I was a big basketball fan growing up. I watched college basketball all the time just because I knew I wanted to be there one day.”
On what he plans to tell his fans during his speech:
“I don’t know yet, I am still trying to get that together. This is all new to me so I got to come up with some stuff.”
On what he remembers most about his time at KU:
“All of my teammates, coaching staff, college campus. You know, you never forget your college experience. Those were three of the best years of my life I made some close friends there. I just really became a man at that school.”
On if he has seen the pregame video that shows his infamous shot:
“Yea I’ve seen that a couple times. It is one of the more amazing things I’ve seen.”
On if he’s surprised that part of the video is one of the loudest ovations every game:
“No I am not surprised. (That shot helped) bring a championship to the program, I am sure people are going to appreciate it for a long time.”
On what it meant to come back and play in the Legends of the Phog game last year:
“It was good to be back in Kansas colors, playing in the Fieldhouse – and good to go against some of the greats and just go out there and have fun. I am looking forward to the next one.”
On his thoughts regarding Coach (Self) saying he was the most clutch player that he has coached:
“That means a lot. Coach Self has had players like Deron Williams, Dee Brown, and he has had a lot of people throughout his coaching experience so that is a great accomplishment for me. I thank Coach Self for that.”
On which is the better feeling, being the point guard for an NCAA Championship team or an NBA championship team:
“That’s a tough one. I would have to say maybe the NBA team because you are doing it at the highest level.”
Kansas Men’s Basketball Retired Jerseys
Tus Ackerman – 1923-25
Charlie B. Black – 1942-43, 1946-47
Charlie T. Black – 1922-24
B.H. Born – 1952-54
Bill Bridges – 1959-61
Wilt Chamberlain – 1957-58
Nick Collison – 2000-03
Paul Endacott – 1921-23
Howard Engleman – 1939-41
Ray Evans – 1942-43, 1946-47
Max Falkenstien – 1946-2006
Drew Gooden – 2000-02
Gale Gordon – 1925-27
Kirk Hinrich – 2000-03
Raef LaFrentz – 1995-98
Clyde Lovellette – 1950-52
Danny Manning – 1985-88
Al Peterson – 1925-27
Paul Pierce – 1996-98
Fred Pralle – 1936-38
David Robisch – 1969-71
Wayne Simien – 2002-05
Bud Stallworth – 1970-72
Darnell Valentine – 1978-81
Jacque Vaughn – 1994-97
Walter Wesley – 1964-66
Jo Jo White – 1966-69
Kansas Women’s Basketball Retired Jerseys
Angela Aycock – 1992-95
Tamecka Dixon – 1994-97
Lynette Woodard – 1978-81
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