LAWRENCE, Kan. – Eight former Kansas men’s basketball players begin their quest for an NBA title this weekend.
The eight Jayhawks – Darrell Arthur (Memphis), Mario Chalmers (Miami), Nick Collison (Oklahoma City), Drew Gooden (Milwaukee), Kirk Hinrich (Chicago), Paul Pierce (Boston), Thomas Robinson (Houston) and Tyshawn Taylor (Brooklyn) – represent eight of the 16 teams in the 2013 NBA playoffs. Former Jayhawk Brandon Rush’s Golden State team also qualified, however Rush sat out the 2012-13 season recovering from a torn ACL.
Hinrich’s Chicago Bulls and Taylor’s Brooklyn Nets, and Gooden’s Milwaukee Bucks and Chalmers’ Miami Heat will square off in the East quarterfinals, guaranteeing a Jayhawk matchup in the East bracket semifinal. In the West quarterfinals, Collison’s Oklahoma City Thunder and Robinson’s Houston Rockets will meet, which means a Jayhawk will be in the West semifinal round.
Last year, Chalmers joined elite company when his Miami Heat team won the 2012 NBA title. Chalmers joined former KU great Clyde Lovellette in becoming only the second Jayhawk to win both an NCAA National Championship and an NBA title. Like Chalmers, Lovellette, who was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in November 2012, was a Most Outstanding Player (MOP) when KU won the 1952 NCAA Tournament. He later won three NBA titles with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1954 and the Boston Celtics in 1963 and 1964. Chalmers was the MOP when Kansas won the 2008 NCAA National Championship.
Chalmers and Pierce are looking to become the first Jayhawks to win two NBA championships since JoJo White won two titles with the Boston Celtics in 1974 and 1976.
Kansas NBA Champions
Clyde Lovellette (1950-52 at KU), Minneapolis Lakers - 1954; Boston Celtics - 1963, 1964
Maurice King (1955-57 at KU), Boston Celtics - 1960
Wilt Chamberlain (1957-58 at KU), Philadelphia 76ers - 1967; L.A. Lakers - 1972
JoJo White (1966-69 at KU), Boston Celtics - 1974, 1976
Bill Bridges (1959-61 at KU), Golden State Warriors - 1975
Wayne Simien (2002-05 at KU), Miami Heat - 2006
Jacque Vaughn (1994-97 at KU), San Antonio Spurs - 2007
Paul Pierce (1996-98 at KU), Boston Celtics - 2008
Scot Pollard (1994-97 at KU), Boston Celtics - 2008
Mario Chalmers (2006-08 at KU), Miami Heat - 2012
Kansas NBA Finals Most Valuable Players
Wilt Chamberlain - 1972
Jo Jo White - 1976
Paul Pierce - 2008