Chalmers jersey to hang in Allen Fieldhouse rafters
- Feb. 14, 2013
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Kansas’ policy is to wait five years after a player has left the program before deciding whether or not to retire their jersey. For Mario Chalmers there didn’t have to be a discussion, there was never a doubt his day would come.
That’s just one of the benefits of being a National Championship hero —knocking down a game-tying 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds remaining. The shot may have only evened the score, but anyone who watched it live knew Kansas had just taken an insurmountable lead.
The other benefits include never paying for another meal in Lawrence, instant celebrity status and, of course, a big shiny ring. But only having his jersey retired will allow a player to consider himself among the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, Jo Jo White, Clyde Lovellette and, well you get the idea.
It was only a matter of counting down 1,825 days starting around midnight on April 7th, 2008.
“We set that policy where we should wait five years,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I think it’s a great policy because now kids will definitely respect it more coming back than they would if it would’ve just happened right after they finished playing.”
It might not be possible to respect Chalmers more now than five years ago. There won’t be another parade down Mass Street, even though some fans might argue for one, but there will be a group of students who for the last half decade relived Mario’s Miracle every home game before tipoff, cheering like it’s happening live before their eyes.
His legacy remains untouched, but his legend has only grown.
“One of my goals when I first went to KU was to make a name,” Chalmers said. “And make sure my name lasts forever in Kansas history.”
Even though one shot defines his career, there’s no denying the impact he had with the Jayhawks back when Allen Fieldhouse only held four championship banners.
In 2006, Chalmers set the Kansas record for steals by a freshman with 86, recorded 420 assists over his three-year career (14th all-time by a Jayhawk) and scored 1,341 points.
Perhaps it’s a questionable resume for a jersey retirement, but there’s no statistic for how good a player performs in the final moments of a game. If there were, Chalmers would own the Kansas record for that too.
“He was as clutch of a player as we’ve ever had here,” Self said. “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.”
The smile Self refers to has been immortalized in Allen Fieldhouse for quite some time now in the form of a mural outside of the Jayhawks’ locker room.
It’s just another reminder of what Chalmers’ career has meant to a university that largely defines itself by the game it helped perfect.
Every future Jayhawk running through that tunnel will know Mario’s Miracle, and once they enter the gym and look to the rafters they’ll understand the importance of the man behind it.
“He was just a treat to coach,” Self said. “He actually got out of Kansas exactly what he set out to get out of Kansas.”
Blake is a senior from Chicago, Ill., studying journalism on the news and information track. Read more from Blake Schuster.