It may not be exactly like watching the Kansas Jayhawks celebrate a national basketball championship, but it still was a treat to see former Jayhawk Paul Pierce's boyish glee Tuesday night after the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship.
Kansas was well represented at the celebration. Pierce was named the most valuable player for the NBA finals. Former Jayhawk Jo Jo White received the same honor when he played for the Celtics in 1976 and was in the stands Tuesday night. On the bench because of injuries, Scot Pollard, another former Jayhawk also will wear a championship ring as a member of this year's Celtics team.
Pierce had paid his dues for this victory. He was disappointed to be picked so low in the NBA draft in 1998 and spent the next 10 years as the star without a supporting cast on a disappointing Celtics team. In 2000, he was in the wrong Boston club at the wrong time and was stabbed 11 times in an incident that could have ended his career or even his life.
This year, that all melted away, when two other top players joined the Celtics' roster to help Pierce out. The result was an NBA championship that ended with a blow-out game against rival Los Angeles Lakers.
After the game Pierce thanked the Celtics' fans, coaches and owners for "sticking with" him for the last 10 years. The fact that Pierce also "stuck with it" and kept working and improving for the sake of his team is a tribute to him and perhaps to the lessons he took from his time at KU with coach Roy Williams.
It's another chapter in the storied Jayhawk basketball tradition. Congratulations to Pierce and Pollard. You've represented your former university well.