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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tait

Legends provide relief

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Legends of the Phog postgame press conference

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Bill Self, Paul Pierce, Mario Chalmers and Larry Brown addressed the media after the Legends of the Phog alumni scrimmage Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

For the past few weeks, on a very public stage, Kansas University had been reduced to the role of second-class citizen because of the turbulent conference realignment talk that, at times, left KU in the very unfamiliar position of feeling like an outsider.

Saturday, everything seemed right again.

In front of 16,300 rabid fans, 23 former Kansas basketball players returned to Allen Fieldhouse to deliver the kind of performance that reminded the KU faithful where their school ranked in college athletics.

“This was good for the soul,” KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said.

In the short term, the Legends of the Phog game gave us all a break from talking about the future of the Big 12. In the long term, it’s an event that will be talked about for ages.

“This is truly remarkable. This is unreal,” said Darnell Valentine, an All-American in 1981 who ranks fourth on KU’s all-time assists list. “Are we just crazy in Kansas about our basketball or what? This is a blessing, and we are all feeling the love. Thank you so much.”

The game itself had a little bit of everything. Part Globetrotters, part Late Night, part NBA All-Star game. It also included the one common denominator that led all of these guys to KU during the past four decades — competitive fire.

While the first half was more of a feel-good fest, the players picked it up a notch in the second half. Bodies banged, former teammates battled for rebounds and a little defense showed up.

As the game clock ticked under five minutes to play, one look was all it took to see that no one on the floor wanted to lose. In the end, no one did. Thanks to the kind of clutch shots we’ve come to expect from Paul Pierce, who hit a three for the lead with five seconds left, and, later, Mario Chalmers, who appropriately drained a three to tie it inside the final second, the Jayhawks, old and new, played to a 111-all tie.

While the contest was enough to make the night memorable — so many different generations of some of the greatest KU basketball teams on the floor together — the between-the-action festivities brought it to another level.

During one time out, the members of the 1952, 1988 and 2008 national championship teams who made it back were introduced to the crowd. During others, Chalmers and Pierce manned the mic and several fresh and nostalgic videos played on the video board.

“I don’t think any player can go anywhere in America and be more loved than they are right here at the University of Kansas,” said current KU coach Bill Self.

In the modern era of college basketball, the “One more year” chant has become as popular as almost any other, especially late in the season when the home fans are clamoring for their talented underclassmen to stick around town a little longer.

With players leaving early for the NBA becoming more regular, even at Kansas, fans at Allen Fieldhouse never quite know when they’re watching the final game in the careers of some of their favorites.

Saturday, 10 former Jayhawks who never got the chance to say goodbye gave KU fans the next best thing — one more game.

As great as this reunion went, it may not be the last.

Comments

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 1 month ago

Ron Kellog sighting, wayward is not going to be happy!

And fire sheahorn.

waywardJay 9 years, 1 month ago

Got no Issue with Ron Kellogg.

It's Calvin Thompson who can go to H***

baldwinjhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Where was Dean Smith? Too good to walk out with his 52 national champ teammates? He's from topeka. Nick collison is still the real deal! So smooth...

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 1 month ago

I believe he's suffering from Alzheimer's.

Page Butler 9 years, 1 month ago

You just need to stop posting on this website. I will speak for myself, but I am sure I am not the only one who feels that you should find something else to do instead of being so negative. Go away.

lv_jhwk 9 years, 1 month ago

We can only hope this is the first of many. The question I have that I've never seen addressed is whether this sort of gathering is just a product of the lockout or if it could actually be done in a similar fashion on an annual basis.

jaybirdy68 9 years, 1 month ago

Did I miss it? Where were Jo Jo White and Jacque Vaughn?

fansincewilt 9 years, 1 month ago

There had to be some divine help in that ending. Man just can't cook up something like this. It was too good to be true. It was truly a blessing to all those who love Jayhawk basketball.

FarSideHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey Matt, Any info on Jacque Vaughn (My all-time favorite Jayhawk). Didn't hear anything about him even in the build up of this event.
Was he invited? What is he up to these days? Thanks!

Scott Murphy 9 years, 1 month ago

I heard that Jacque who is an assistant for the Spurs couldn't come and be around the players because of the NBA lockout, whether this is true or not I don't know just what I heard.

REHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Would have been tough to script a more appropriate and thrilling final five seconds. The Ghost of the Phog must be grinning at his handiwork.

RockCaCO3 9 years, 1 month ago

No Drew ("I trimmed my toenails cause I knew I'd need my wheels tonight") Gooden?

Paul Rupp 9 years, 1 month ago

Awesome, Awesome Event. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at Bill's house the night before. RCJH.

Bill Woodard 9 years, 1 month ago

Drew couldn't make it but had a really nice, heartfelt taped message that they played on the videoboard.

Funhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

It was good to see Ted Owens. I cracked up when he called the final time out, and with clip board in hand, he was drawing a final play for his team. It was a fun, surreal event to see all these former Jayhawk players on the AFH court at the same time, kind of weird, playing against each other. And, to see Ted seriously drawing that final play, regardless of whether or not the players did what he instructed. I wish Ted Owens the best. Like all the Jayhawk coaches, he was devoted to the end.

jhox 9 years, 1 month ago

Was Ted eating Tums, like they were M&M's, just like the old days?

Clif Roark 9 years, 1 month ago

Matt, Very nice article......especially your ending about the 10 players who never got a chance to say "goodbye."

And thanks for all your excellent reporting on the happenings surrounding the Big 12 and its survival.

rockjacque Clif Roark Morrison, Colorado

Randy Glenn 9 years, 1 month ago

Great event-well worth the 325 mile drive. Well planned and videos were awesome.Thought we left out one of the biggest legends--Max

Gregor Southard 9 years, 1 month ago

What? No whining about the "Kansas University" reference? Good thing Keegan didn't write the article. Matt, any possibility this game makes it on to dvd? thanks

Tim Orel 9 years, 1 month ago

We can compare sales between this and the DVD of the Kittycats winning (whining) in Manhattan that they put out. I know which one people on this site would be buying.

Gregor Southard 9 years, 1 month ago

I'm thinking one helluva Christmas present!

jaybate 9 years, 1 month ago

Is this heaven?

No, its KU basketball.

100 9 years, 1 month ago

Perfect. And so true. It makes me realize with 100% certainty that Naismith, Chamberlain & Daugherty weren't actually missing from the Phog on Saturday... They were right in the thick of it.

Hail_To_Thee 9 years, 1 month ago

Two individuals who were not listed on the Roster, but were definitely in attendance

Dr James Naismith & Forrest "Phog" Allen

hawksfan08 9 years, 1 month ago

The event was incredible. The only thing I would change is that they should've split the stands, one side cheer for blue, one side cheer for white. I think that would've added a lot of energy. That said, I hope they don't do this every year. I think it would lose some of its luster if it happened every year. Every 5 years I think would be perfect.

Alex Berger 9 years, 1 month ago

He couldn't make it because his first child is due around this weekend.

hawksfanatic 9 years, 1 month ago

Tait is very much on target in his first paragraph, but read the subtext. When will KU fans learn that we have to be more than just a basketball school. We can moan and bitch all we want to about the football program, but every fan should get on board about its importance. That's not gonna happen this year with our brutal schedule. Sorry folks, but football drives the business and everyone should get used to it. The economy is not what it was 10 years ago either. You have to adjust to reality. Get a football program in place and watch the prestige and dollars flow to KU. Compare 16,000 fans to 100,000. Don't believe me - watch the replay of the OSU A&M game from yesterday. OSU was once a patsy, too. Look what they have done. It won't happen overnight, but we can excel in both, and if it takes a new coach and talented players, we should make every effort. Think long term and don't dwell in the past.

AverageCitizen 9 years, 1 month ago

Uh, so hawksfanatic, we can't revel in a fantastic night and our love of the basketball program? Why would you pick this article to rail about the greedy power brokers that want to ruin a good thing? And just how are we fans suppose to "get on board' ?

jayhawk96 9 years, 1 month ago

Wow, you must really kill at parties.

Gregor Southard 9 years, 1 month ago

I agree. C'mon students! What the heck is so important on a Saturday afternoon that you can't support your team? KU was worse in the 80's yet my friends and I never skipped a game (or left early).

Benz Junque 9 years, 1 month ago

Why? Is Oklahoma State's basketball program somehow helped out by the success of their football program? No.

It would be great if Kansas was great at football, sure. I would have no problem at all seeing the university commit some money to improving the football program and facilities. But I do not think it matters to the basketball program at all. We do not want for anything for our basketball program. They have top notch facilities and get top notch recruits.

Sparko 9 years, 1 month ago

Football is about having 60-75 good athletes and few injuries. Basketball is an athletic art. Football is usually dominated by the teams they don't catch cheating, or allow to cheat. Basketball is all right there in front of you. In a typical year, more fans will watch Kansas basketball than any Division ! football team. The money should be the other way around, and in time, maybe it will be.

Josh Galler 9 years, 1 month ago

collins, morning star and reed in europoe Vaughn I heard the same thing that he is a NBA assistant could not bee around. Hinrich wife gave birth Drew had his Bday celebrations I wonder about Kenny G maybe b/c he is in euro still. Shasha has ball in russia, was scooter playing or there for the 1988 reunion?

Andrew Bary 9 years, 1 month ago

Video anyone? Recording? Tape? Highlights? ANYTHING please for a desperate Jayhawk fan from DC that was swamped at work last night!!! Thanks all. I am loving reading the stories.

James McGuire 9 years, 1 month ago

I think you can still watch the video on AT&T All Access, which you can get to through kuathletics.com. It costs $9.95 for a month subscription and the quality is terrible.

Angus0199 9 years, 1 month ago

Wish I could've been there, Sounds freakin awsome. May be a tough Fall but we be putting the beatin down in a couple of months. We still need to sell out now though.

Alex Berger 9 years, 1 month ago

Man I wonder what the recruits sitting in the stands were thinking during all of this. How do you say no?

okiedave 9 years, 1 month ago

NCAA makes 700 million each year on March Madness. Does the NCAA spread that weatlh to the schools that participate in March Madness? If not they should. Basketball needs the financial clout that football enjoys.

pgittemeier09 9 years, 1 month ago

the ncaa spreads the wealth only after texas gets theirs

blindrabbit 9 years, 1 month ago

If we don't get our football program together, we'll continue to be a 2nd. class citizen in major college sports. Twice in the past 2 years KU has been exposed to the reality of big time college sports, football controls! During the Big12 realignment going-on's, I heard about every Big12 university except KU, KSU, ISU and Baylor having options. Wake up time!!!! Additionally, KU needs to assure that we maintain our academic standing, we know that the PAC12 and the B1G consider academics as important as our sports program. Unfortunately, KU languished under the leadership of Hemenway, and our current administration is still trying to feel it's way.

I hope that during that during the next re-alignment go-around, which will no-doubt occur, KU will be in a better position to control it's own destiny.A real concern is the feel-good attitude of out BB program, that is well deserved, and the fall-off in attention to correcting the football issues. Hope we don't get caught feeling good only about BB while the rest of the country cares abut the "other sport".

hawksfanatic 9 years, 1 month ago

Absolutely concur. See my post above. I don't write this to denigrate the basketball team - we have that history and tradition. But see how long that holds up if you have no Bill Self or talented players because we're now part of a second-tier conference. Yes, we can and should revel in our victories, but not remain a basketball school with a chip on our shoulder, while pretending that a sub-standard football team doesn't matter. Can any of our fiercely fanatic basketball fans really believe that 70-10 blowouts on the gridiron are good for our athletics program, our prestige? Can those who decry the greedy business of college athletics really believe that football doesn't matter? I'm not talking about the quest for No. 1 (although that would be nice); I'm talking about being competitive. One only has to look at the past two years to see the writing on the wall. We can no longer say, "Wait until basketball season." Those days are gone. We need a shift in our thinking at KU, otherwise the McNeese States of the world will be our future foes, and KU will become just another quaint Midwestern institution with a once rich basketball history and a mediocre athletics program.

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