Chalmers joins Kansas greats in Allen Fieldhouse

At 8:58 Saturday night, a curtain fell from high in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse, revealing Mario Chalmers’s No. 15 jersey, the 27th men’s basketball jersey Kansas has retired in 115 years of basketball.

“It’s something that you always hope for,” Chalmers said. “That was one of my dreams growing up was to leave my mark on whatever school I went to and it happened to be Kansas.”

George Mullinix/KANSAN At halftime of Saturday's game, Mario Chalmers' address the crowd after his jersey's retirement.

George Mullinix/KANSAN
At halftime of Saturday’s game, Mario Chalmers’ address the crowd after his jersey’s retirement.

But if it weren’t for a member of then-coach Roy Williams’ 2001-2002 freshman class, Chalmers might not have lasted more than a year in Lawrence.

Guard Jeff Hawkins redshirted his freshman year at Kansas in 2001, meaning he was a senior when Chalmers was a freshman. After Chalmers arrived in the fall of 2005 and subsequently endured many freshman growing pains, he seriously considered transferring.

Hawkins, a senior at the time, would not hear of it and convinced Chalmers it would be worth it to stick out the tough times. Chalmers singled him out during his speech Saturday night, thanking Hawkins for taking him under his wing.

Kansas scheduled Chalmers’ jersey retirement for this weekend because it’s the NBA’s All-Star weekend, so he had enough time off from playing for the Miami Heat that he could come to Lawrence. Of course, that meant a lot of the other great Jayhawks from the recent past were on hand, too.

Hawkins, Nick Collison, Wayne Simien, Xavier Henry, Thomas Robinson, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Tyshawn Taylor, Mario Little, Jeff Graves, Conner Teahan and Brady Morningstar all attended the game, even though only Teahan and Morningstar were on the legendary 2008 championship team and only them and Hawkins played with Chalmers.

“To get all those cats back, that first row sitting behind the bench I think that that team would be a unanimous No. 1 if that was a college basketball team,” coach Bill Self said.

Chalmers said he’s seen his 3-point shot that tied the 2008 NCAA Championship game about 100 times, but Friday was the first time he’s seen it in about two years. However, he said he still vividly remembers the play.

“The feeling that I got when Derrick Rose missed the free throw, from Sherron dribbling up the court to the ball getting in my hands and me releasing the shot, it’s just a moment in your life you’ll never forget,” Chalmers said.

In his five years since leaving Kansas Chalmers won an NBA title with the Miami Heat and currently plays point guard alongside NBA All-Stars LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

But Chalmers said hitting the game-tying 3-pointer for Kansas against Memphis is still the highlight of his career so far.

“I think that tops the cake for me,” Chalmers said. “This will always be my home no matter what. I love Kansas.”

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  • Updated Feb. 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm
  • Edited by Trevor Graff