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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Former Jayhawk Brandon Rush excited, nervous for jersey retirement at Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush salute each other in overtime Monday, April 7, 2008 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush salute each other in overtime Monday, April 7, 2008 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

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On a night when the current Kansas basketball team can help clinch a share of a record-tying 13th Big 12 regular season title, one former Jayhawk who played a huge role in delivering three of those titles will share the spotlight with the 2016-17 team.

Former KU great Brandon Rush will have his No. 25 jersey retired and sent to the Allen Fieldhouse rafters during a ceremony at halftime of Wednesday’s KU clash with visiting TCU.

During a conference call with local reporters on the eve of his big night, Rush admitted he was equal parts excited and nervous.

“I was talking to my wife about that (Monday night),” said Rush, 31, now with the Minnesota Timberwolves in his ninth NBA season. “She asked if I was nervous and, yeah, I am kind of nervous. I really don’t like public speaking and speaking in front of 16,300 people’s got my nerves a little rattled.”

Those nerves figure to be calmed by the adoring roar of the Allen Fieldhouse faithful who watched Rush help lead the Jayhawks to 95 victories in three seasons, including the 2008 national title.

While acknowledging that the 2008 team’s comeback win over Memphis in the NCAA Tournament championship game was an all-time favorite memory, Rush pointed to a less celebrated moment as one of his other favorite KU memories.

“Bouncing back from my ACL injury and just hearing the crowd at my first game back was a real special moment and I’ll never forget that,” Rush said.

That injury, which kept Rush from turning pro after his sophomore season, was one of the first key steps in KU’s run to the 2008 national title.

Currently playing with former Jayhawks Cole Aldrich and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota, Rush said he thinks about the 2008 title “all the time” and added that he and Aldrich, who was a freshman on that team, talk about it a lot.

KU’s leading scorer during all three seasons he played at Kansas (2006-08), Rush was a three-time all-Big 12 first-team selection, a two-time Wooden Award All-American and the 2006 Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

He currently ranks 23rd on KU’s all-time scoring list with 1,477 points and his 205 career 3-pointers are the fifth most in KU history. Rush knocked those down at a 43.5-percent clip, which sits as the third best KU career 3-point percentage of all-time.

Rush has known about Wednesday’s ceremony for a while and actually found out about sooner than he was supposed to. Before Self could tell him the news, one of Rush’s friends, whom he did not name, “spilled the beans a little early.”

Despite getting wind of the plans a couple of months earlier than planned, Rush said his reaction to the news would not have been any different no matter when he found out.

“I was really excited,” he said. “I knew sometime it was gonna come. But for me and my family it’s a really exciting time for us.”

Rush said KU teammate Mario Chalmers was planning to be at Wednesday’s game to celebrate the second member of that title team going up into the rafters.

“Mario loves it,” Rush said. “He’s been waiting on that day to happen for me since he got his jersey retired in 2013. He’s definitely excited. He’s gonna be there.”

Rush and Chalmers are far from the only Jayhawks looking forward to the retirement ceremony.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing him. I haven't seen him in a bit and I know that he's excited to be here," KU coach Bill Self said. "He said he only needed 16 tickets, which is about 16 less than I thought he'd ask for. I hope people, which I'm sure they will, will show him the appreciation he deserves."

Asked to list the first things that come to mind when the name Brandon Rush is brought up, Self jumped right in.

"Best teammate. Most liked," he began. "Everybody liked him no matter if you're a senior and he's a freshman or you're an 18-year-old and he's a 22-year-old. Everyone got along with B. He was ornery, but did it in a very quiet way, kept to himself in so many ways and I don't think people that didn't know him really got a chance to understand his humor because he's really, really funny and he's very dry."

One of Self's favorite funny-guy moments from Rush came in a number of KU practices.

"He used to tell us all the time, 'Hey, run this play,'" began Self, explaining that he always asked why Rush wanted to run that particular play. "'Because Mario doesn't know it. Watch, watch, watch.' And we'd run it in practice and Mario doesn't know where he's going and, sure enough, that'd stop practice and he'd just giggle and chuckle the whole time."

Rush will become the 28th former KU men’s basketball player to have his jersey hoisted into the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse. There is no formal criteria for inclusion on the exclusive list of KU’s all-time greats and Self said Rush’s status as a three-time all-league pick, leading scorer and national champion made him a slam dunk.

His will be the first jersey raised at Allen Fieldhouse since Chalmers had his retired in February of 2013 and Rush will be the third former Jayhawk to wear No. 25 to have his name and number hanging high above the south end of Allen Fieldhouse, joining B.H. Born and Danny Manning.

“It means that all the hard work has paid off. Growing up 30 minutes outside of Lawrence and being able to have my name in the rafters is a pretty big deal for me and my family.”

Comments

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 6 months ago

With all the drama associated with Brandon's older brothers and Kansas, it's got to be some kind of galactic karma reversal for Brandon to emerge to be the only one to attend KU and he became the star of the group.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 6 months ago

So well deserved. Congrats to a great player and a classy individual.

Dave Miller 2 years, 6 months ago

This is something that should have been done in 2013 also. Congratulations Brandon Rush for an honor that is richly deserved.

Ben Kane 2 years, 6 months ago

"He used to tell us all the time, 'Hey, run this play,'" began Self, explaining that he always asked why Rush wanted to run that particular play. "'Because Mario doesn't know it. Watch, watch, watch.' And we'd run it in practice and Mario doesn't know where he's going and, sure enough, that'd stop practice and he'd just giggle and chuckle the whole time."

might be my favorite ever behind the scenes story.

Chad Smith 2 years, 6 months ago

Who do you think is my profile pic?

Perhaps my favorite jayhawk of all time. When I figured out he would be back for his junior year, I said to myself, "this could be our season."

Underrated defender, athletic, good shooter and finisher. The complete package at the 3 spot.

What may be lost in all this is some clutch buckets he made to beat davidson and the defense he played against UNC and Wayne Ellington in the first and second half runs.

Salute Mr. Rush. You're awesome

Bryce Landon 2 years, 6 months ago

Now that I think back on that period, I think Brandon Rush might have been my favorite player on those three KU teams. He was so good at almost everything he did on the court. Meanwhile, I don't recall UCLA retiring JaRon's jersey or Missouri retiring Kareem's jersey. Brandon was clearly the best of the Rush brothers.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 6 months ago

My favorite Brandon Rush moment might have been the 3-pointer he hit to put Kansas up 38-12 on North Carolina in the Final Four, prompting Billy Packer to say, "This game...is OVER!"

Edward Daub 2 years, 6 months ago

CBS decided to "retire" Billy Packer at the end of that season. Those words probably did him in, since NC rallied back later. CBS Execs noticed the TV's turned off around the country, after Billy shouted out? I even remember Jim Nantz trying to bail him out asking Billy , "Are you sure?".

Jonathan Allison 2 years, 6 months ago

seems like UNC clawed back to make it a 4 pt game at one point before Kansas slammed the door shut on them.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 6 months ago

I never liked Billy Packer much. It seemed he was always rooting for the other team when he called a Kansas game. The way he called KU's 2002 Final Four game against Maryland and the 2003 title game against Syracuse - pro-UM and pro-SU - made the memories of those losses all the more painful for me. But still, this was a funny moment on his part.

Andy Tweedy 2 years, 6 months ago

Same memory but I believe that was the shot that had Bob Davis yelling "the 'Hawks are cookin'!"

Tony Bandle 2 years, 6 months ago

Billy Packer never quite recovered from the 1988 telecast of the KU NC win over OU when everything he predicted in the pregame show virtually giving the title to OU went wrong. Even his goofy broadcast partner Brian Mushberger, sensed something special was happening and Billy just refused to recognize it until the half ended.

Nick Thompson 2 years, 6 months ago

BRush is the best. I remember when he came back from surgery against Washburn. Pretty special moment. Congrats to Brandon -- so well deserved.

Here is the video of the return if you want to smile:

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