Former Kansas University All-American Danny Manning had kind words for KU on Tuesday when his No. 25 jersey was carried to new heights in Allen Fieldhouse.
Manning, who led KU to the 1988 NCAA championship, had his jersey retired during a halftime ceremony at the KU-Georgia game.
"It's something all my teammates deserve credit for," Manning said. "I was very fortunate to play on teams for four years with unselfish players."
A replica of his jersey was unfurled on the north wall of the fieldhouse after he spoke to the crowd.
"You're the best fans I've ever played for," said Manning, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA.
Manning's jersey was retired, not his number. Six other former KU basketball players have been honored the same way, including Clyde Lovellette.
KU coach Roy Williams said he respects Danny Manning as a player and person.
"Danny has been very special," Williams said. "The '88 team, he and coach (Larry) Brown, that's truly one of the great stories in college basketball."
KU planned to retire Manning's jersey last season, but delayed the ceremony unti he could return to Lawrence for a game.
Manning's father, Ed Manning, and Danny Manning's wife and daughter, Julie and Taylor, were at the ceremony. Manning said his mother and sister couldn't take time off work to attend.
During the game, Manning sat behind KU's bench near the student section. This was the second game he's watched in Allen Fieldhouse since leaving KU.
"It's something I've wanted to do for a long time," he said.
Manning, the first player selected in the 1988 NBA draft, said college basketball has advantages over the pro game.
"For the atmosphere, the college game is much better. In part, because I played here," Manning said.
He said he fed off the energy of fans at college games. It's different in the NBA, he said, where the crowds can be tougher to please.
"A lot of (NBA) fans look at it like, you do something great and we'll clap. You do something wrong and we'll let you know it," he said.
The Manning-Brown duo didn't end at KU. Brown is now coach of the Clippers.
"When we come into the locker room it seems like everything he says I'm hearing for the tenth time," Manning said.
Manning is averaging 22.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game with the Clippers. The team's record is 7-6.
"I feel we're close to really putting a string of victories together," Manning said.
Williams speculated before the game that Manning would be proud of KU's current basketball team.
"If you asked him he'd say he feels good about our program," Williams said.
What about it Danny?
"He's doing a great job," Manning said. "I've known coach Williams some time. He recruited me (in high school) when I was living in North Carolina."