"Rivalry Renewed" KU-MU Border War revival on tap for Saturday night
It’s Border War time in Kansas City again and Jayhawks and Tigers everywhere have people on both sides of the storied rivalry to thank.
At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, Mo., nearly 20 former KU and MU players will get together for what’s being dubbed “Rivalry Renewed,” a game between alums that will be for both bragging rights and charity.
The game came about when Steve Gardner, a 1991 KU graduate and die-hard Kansas fan, was contacted by former Missouri standout Kareem Rush about putting the game together.
The two have a mutual friend who lives in Los Angeles and after Rush mentioned the idea to him a couple of years ago, the friend told Rush he should get in touch with Gardner. Rush did and, a year and a half later, the two are on the brink of the first of what Gardner hopes will be many summers of Rivalry Renewed type games.
“This is something that has been on the radar and talked about and we’ve gone back and forth on for a while,” Gardner said in a Friday interview with the Journal-World. “And now it’s here. We’re thrilled and we’re ready to go.”
KU and MU, of course, have not met in an official college basketball game since KU's epic comeback victory at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 25, 2012, when the Jayhawks stormed back from 19 down in the second half to win in overtime.
Last September, the two teams got together for an exhibition game at Sprint Center — also won by KU — to raise money for hurricane relief. At least for now, after Missouri's decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, it's exhibitions and games like Saturday's that will have to satisfy the Border War cravings of KU and MU fans.
Gardner, who has more than 20 years of experience in the sports agency world, putting on events that feature pro athlete speakers, said there was some uncertainty early on about whether the game would actually happen this summer or if they would have to put it off until a year from now. But once Intercom came on board and helped promote and market the game, a couple of sponsors followed and things went fast and furious from there.
Gardner said they already have sold more than 2,500 tickets for the event and the majority of the money raised — after expenses — will go to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City, the This Too Shall Pass charity and Rush’s Rush Forward Foundation.
General Admission tickets are $38 apiece and VIP tickets, which include admission to the game and a VIP event at Harrah’s Casino from 7-10 p.m. on Friday night are $129 apiece.
The goal, Gardner said, was to raise $20,000 for the charities and between the game and the VIP event, which also will feature a silent auction hosted by former KU great Calvin Thompson. Gardner said he believes they are well on their way to reaching that goal.
The game, which will be broadcast live on 610 Sports Radio, will feature regular college rules, 20-minute halves, referees, ball boys and “even people to wipe up the sweat on the floor.”
“They’re going to get after it,” Gardner said. “But we may give the guys just a touch longer during timeouts to catch their breath.”
Former KU guard Sherron Collins, who recently was a special guest at Frank Mason's camp in Lawrence, was hoping to play, but, as of Friday, Gardner was not sure whether Collins would suit up.
“I’ll probably play," Collins told reporters at the Mason camp. "Too much of a competitor to sit out, especially a Mizzou game.”
If the game were featuring anyone other than Missouri as the opponent, Collins probably would pass.
"There isn’t another way to put it, I just hate those guys," he said. "I hate everything about Mizzou. There is a kid from Chicago that is going to Mizzou, I know him real well. I just told him I can’t support him. I just hate them, I hate everything about them. I hate going there, I hate them coming here. I feel like K-State was a rivalry, but it was more of a respected rivalry. I just don’t like (Mizzou).”
Regardless of what Collins elects to do, the rest of the KU squad will feature Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson, Travis Releford, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Jeff Hawkins, Jeff Graves, Nick Bradford as a player/coach and maybe one or two more.
The MU group will include: Kareem Rush, Keyon Dooling, Rickey Paulding, Leo Lyons, Johnnie Parker, Jevon Crudup, Stefhon Hannah and more.
“When we first started planning this, we were thinking if we could sell 1,500 tickets, that would be great,” Gardner said. “So we’re well past that goal and really looking forward to having some fun. Being a KU guy, and even with Kareem being my business partner, I certainly think we’re going to beat them pretty good.”