It’s a shot that will go down as one of the biggest shots in the history of college basketball. On the night of April 7, 2008, the shot changed the fate of both the Kansas Jayhawks and the Memphis Tigers, but it also changed the fate of Mario Chalmers.
You know the rest of the story. Chalmers’ three pointer tied the National Championship Game and sent it into overtime, where Kansas later prevailed 75-68 to claim the title. As for Chalmers, the night propelled him onto the cover of Sports Illustrated and into the NBA Draft, where he would be selected by the Miami Heat.
Five years later, Chalmers’ shot is replayed ever time the Jayhawks are introduced at Allen Fieldhouse to a raucous ovation and on the night of February 16th, when Kansas battles Texas, the decibel level will be sure to double when Chalmers’ number 15 is retired in the hallowed rafters of the historic old gym.
Chalmers had know for about two months, but Kansas Athletics officially announced it Thursday, immediately making fans, coaches and Chalmers himself recall the night which etched the former guard into NCAA basketball lore, let alone Jayhawk lore.
“Mario is so loved here, as you guys know,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday at his weekly press conference. “I’ve seen the shot more than you guys have, believe it or not and it still gives me goosebumps to see it.”
Chalmers’ shot capped a championship run in which he was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. It’s also fitting that he will become the first from that team to have the prestigious honor of having his jersey retired in Allen Fieldhouse.
It’s also fitting that the honor will come on a night in which the Jayhawks play Texas, a team he had some of his greatest success against, including a career high 30 points in the championship game of the 2008 Big 12 Tournament.
“Mario definitely deserves to have his jersey hung,” 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.”
Self praised Chalmers for his personality and being a teammate, calling him the perfect guy to coach. He also said Chalmers loved the moment and competition.
Self’s biggest compliment came when he called Chalmers the biggest clutch performer in his 10 years at Kansas.
The honor itself for Chalmers is a fitting cap on a career that will never be lost on the now five-year pro and now NBA champion.
“It means a lot to me, being in the rafters with guys like Paul Pierce, Drew Gooden, Wilt Chamberlain. It’s a great accomplishment and it make me proud to be a Jayhawk,” Chalmers said.