Bill Self was asked this week whether Saturday's showdown between No. 3 Missouri and No. 4 Kansas will be the biggest game ever played inside Allen Fieldhouse. Self said it's not, and he's likely right. But the idea that such a question can even be reasonably posed is a testament to the magnitude of what will be the final Border War game for the foreseeable future. A KU win would clinch at least a share of an eighth consecutive Big 12 title for the Jayhawks while a Missouri victory would create a tie atop the league standings with one week remaining in the regular season. So, yeah, this is big. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. ET. You can watch it on CBS -- which, I'm told, is America's Most Watched Network.
I spoke with Withey by phone after Kansas’ victory at Texas A&M Wednesday.
What do you remember the most about the loss to Missouri earlier this month?
Jeff Withey: It wasn’t one of my better games. Looking back, I see so many things I could’ve done personally to help the team out a lot, things I’ll need to do this time. If Kim English is on me again, he’s a smaller guy, so I’ll need to post up stronger and try to take advantage of that match-up so that Thomas [Robinson] can go one-on-one with his man. Defensively, I need to try to make sure they can’t drive into the lane as much, maybe block a lot of shots so they won’t even try to come in there very much. I guess just be more aggressive. The first game I definitely wasn’t as aggressive as I should’ve been.
How has this team responded?
JW: We had the game won. To be up by 10 and lose that game, a lot of things had to go wrong. I think the whole team has tried to build off the loss. Sometimes when you lose a game like that you’ll break down (mentally) to the point where it’s hard to come out of it. We’ve done a good job of putting that in the backs of our minds. Instead of dwelling on it, we’ve focused on the games ahead and played pretty well. But I’m not going to lie. We’ve had Saturday’s game circled on our calendar. We can’t wait to play them again. Practices leading up to the game are going to rough and intense. We’re going to get after it and get ready for this game.
…Even though you didn’t grow up in Kansas or Missouri, you’ve certainly learned a lot about the rivalry between these two schools. What stands out the most?
JW: It’s really important for our state and our university. People are really passionate about it. It goes back to Civil War times. Everyone is talking about it on campus. That’s all they care about, us beating Mizzou. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s a fun game, though. I’m glad it means that much to so many people. It definitely makes the game more fun for us, more exciting.
So many teams enter seasons talking about winning national titles, but at Kansas, you don’t look that far ahead. How impressive is it that your team is on the cusp of an eighth straight Big 12 title?
JW: That’s our goal every year, to win the Big 12 title. After that it’s the conference tournament title and after that the national championship. It goes in that order. We know how important this game coming up is. We’ve got a one-game lead right now. If we don’t care of business this weekend, it means nothing. We’re focused right now. We know what’s at stake.
Kansas had shaky moments after leaving Columbia but did just enough at Kansas State and Texas A&M to hold on to victories.
Plus, Self said, he’d like to see a little Novak Djokovic in all of his players. You know, the tennis player who has won the last three and four of the last five Grand Slam events.
“Basketball is a little like tennis,” Self said. “There are certain points you have to win. When you’re down five with 3 minutes to go, you have to get a stop. If you’re up five with less than 2 minutes to go, you have to have a good possession. These are the things you must do to become a good closing team.”
Bill Self doesn't harbor much sentimentality about the end of the Kansas-Missouri rivalry.
He admits that the atmosphere in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, when the fourth-ranked Jayhawks play the No. 3 Tigers for the final time in the regular season, will be more "juiced" than perhaps any other time since the venerable gym opened in 1955.
But he also knows that there is a lot more riding on the game than nostalgia.
"These kids will be fired up to play, without question, for a lot of reasons: A chance to get a ring - at least a piece of it - a chance to play Missouri and, more importantly, a chance to beat a team that beat us the first time we played," Self said. "That will be our focus."
…"I don't know if this is the biggest game we've had," Self said. "If I remember right, Tyshawn's freshman year we played Texas at home, winner-take-all for the conference championship. That was the last game of the season, if I'm not mistaken. But regardless of what I say or how I look at it, people will look at this as a huge game.
"The most important thing, though, is to win the game, and put yourself in position to win the game," Self said. "That's our goal - that's Missouri's goal."
Self may be downplaying the importance of the rivalry coming to a conclusion, preferring instead to focus on the laurels that come with another marquee victory at the Phog.
But once he stepped out of the locker room for practice Thursday afternoon and saw hundreds of students already lined up for prime seats - many had arrived at the break of dawn on Sunday - he couldn't deny the significance of one more win over Missouri.
"I mean, I love playing Missouri. I loved playing them when I was at Illinois. I've loved playing them here," he said. "But that's not anything I'm going to lay around, sit around, think about, `Oh, I wish.' I just don't think that strongly about it."
Rex Walters, KU guard, 1991-93
“It’s awful. They broke tradition and natural rivalries for money I guess. I loved playing against Mizzou and we will miss those type of games....but we still have K-State,” said Walters, head coach at University of San Francisco who went 6-0 vs. MU.
“I just remember Norm (Stewart, who went 33-41 versus KU) yelling at Richard Scott and myself. We really didn’t know what he was saying — I would have definitely said something back if I understood him .... bad habit that coach (Roy) Williams couldn’t break me from — so Rich and I looked at each other and started laughing ... that and the score probably made him even more upset.
...Milt Newton, KU forward, 1985-89
“The SEC is not in our region so it’s funny to think of MU playing in that conference,” said Newton, who went 5-4 versus the Tigers. “Let’s face it, the SEC has historically been a football conference, with a sprinkling of some basketball teams with Kentucky being the constant. We’re going to miss beating up on them on a regular basis.
...Brett Ballard, KU guard, 2000-02
“After we won my senior year, I was running off the court and a Mizzou fan threw a cup and hit me. The funny thing was the CBS camera was on me for some unknown reason so it was on TV and it definitely gave my friends and family a laugh. Also my senior year the Antlers kept calling my apartment phone. The night before our home game my roommate was on the phone with them for 45 minutes and they thought it was me. We always hang a KU flag on our locker room door at opposing arenas. At Mizzou a couple of years ago they took it down and said we couldn’t do that. Needless to say we put it back up and it stayed up (and we won).”
...Scooter Barry, KU guard, 1985-89
“One year, the rumors of coach Brown leaving were floating around and we came out to an oversized cardboard construction of a bus towing a smaller cardboard construction of a U-Haul with giant headshots of coach (Ed) Manning driving coach Brown across the court! Even the coaches had to crack smiles as they taunted them on the bench. They made giant cartoon characters of players. I remember Kevin Pritchard depicted as a Wolf-Boy and a feminine version on me that was accompanied by chanting, ‘Scooter, you’re the daughter your father always wanted!’ They were hilarious!”
...Tyrel Reed, KU guard, 2008-11
“I was so excited every year knowing we were going to play them twice and all of us players are a little bit more amped to play that game. It may be cliched since it’s the most recent memory and seems to be the one people talk about, but it would be when I hit the three last year at MU in the corner and yelled at the crowd. I didn’t say anything in specific just got caught up in the moment I guess. I mainly remember seeing the replay on the Internet after the game and seeing coach (Kyle) Keller go crazy, which was hilarious to me.”
...Wayne Simien, KU forward, 2001-05
“My favorite memory in Columbia was my junior year when they made the mistake of scheduling us to play the last game ever in the Hearnes Center. We won, 84-82, when David Padgett hit a shot at the buzzer. Also my freshman year when we completed our 16-0 Big 12 undefeated season in Columbia. In Lawrence, it was the year we were both in the top 10 and we smashed them.”
...Eric Chenowith, KU center, 1998-2001
The students always sold shirts that said ‘Muck Fizzou’ which I thought was hilarious. My senior year I wore one under a white Dri-Fit shirt while I was shooting around before the game and the students picked up on it so I had to do a quick change before coach saw. By the way, we won that day.”
...Ted Owens, coach, 1964-83
“As sad as it is, after all these years the anti- and pro-slavery battles across the border and so forth, there still are ill feelings between Missouri and Kansas. You would notice in recent years things Missouri (fans) wore. I’m not pointing at Missouri. We did enough things that were probably not right, ourselves, but even as late as two or three years ago they wore T-shirts praising Quantrill for killing all the people in Lawrence, at the Kansas-Missouri game (football) in Kansas City.”
...Keith Langford, KU guard, 2001-05
You hear ‘Border War’ and assume that the meaning behind it all is the fact the Kansas and Missouri are neighboring states. I kept this understanding all in school spirit until a day in history class when I found out the true meaning of Kansas and Missouri despising one another. Learning about Bleeding Kansas, Missouri being a slave-advocating state and details of the Missouri compromise has a profound effect on my views of the rivalry.
“I changed from ‘Oh, I don’t like these Mizzou guys,’ to ‘How could they go to this school?’ I went from thinking that the Mizzou fans in the stands cheering against, attempting to spit on, and yelling racial slurs at us were just showing school spirit to ‘maybe this does have a deeper meaning.’ In turn it gave me a deep disdain for the entire build-up of the game and the fact that it was still called the Border War. Of course I understand that guys who enroll there probably are not aware and probably don’t care as long as they can get a degree and further their basketball careers, but I do believe that awareness of what you represent and ‘fight’ for are critical. I’m also saying that using hindsight. So I do bid the ‘Border War’ adieu but we all would be naïve to think that we have seen the last of it.
...Jeff Boschee, KU guard, 1999-2002
“My last year at the Barstow School, we are playing in the championship game at a tournament at Cass Midway. It is a rural Missouri school with surrounding communities attending. We were playing Adrian, and their fans — literally, I think — would have kicked my butt if they could have. As I am coaching, everytime something went wrong with my team, two at least 50-year-old men, with their Mizzou shirts on, would stand up and yell and harass me. I would just look down and smile at them. They had the look of death in their eyes. As the game went on, they kept yelling at me, yelling at the officials, till finally they got kicked out. As the two were walking by me right by my bench, one would say ‘M-I-Z,’ and the other would say ‘Z-O-U.’ Then one stopped right in front of me, and said to me, ‘You stupid Jayhawk arranged us getting kicked out here ‘cause we were Missouri fans!’ I just chuckled and went on my way.
Must Read from LJW: The end of the Border War in the words of former KU players
Big 12 Minute: Kansas v Missouri
NYT: Hating you was easy, losing you is hard
When faced with the task of going up against Kansas junior forward Thomas Robinson, Ratliffe said you don’t stop him, you just try to contain him. Ratliffe said he wants to limit Robinson’s open jump shots andallow zero dunks “because that gets the crowd into the game,” he said.
Last year, Ratliffe played Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse for the first time and said it was a crazy, loud atmosphere.
“It was definitely the best crowd I’ve witnessed. They’re all in unity. They all hate us,” Ratliffe said. “It’s kind of scary at first to jump tip. Then you try to just block it all out. A lot of people just heckling at you, people that you don’t even know and that don’t know you just yelling at you for no reason. It’s kind of like, ‘Why are you mad at me?’”
Ratliffe plans on using former Missouri coach Mike Anderson’s tip to deal with the hostile environment — pretend like the crowd is cheering for Missouri instead of Kansas.
Columbia Missourian: Other's kindness graces Steve Moore's path to Missouri
Because Missouri is moving to the SEC next season, Saturday’s Tigers-Kansas game will mark the end of a series that began in 1907, and a bitter rivalry.
Asked about it Friday, Williams, the Jayhawks’ former head coach, said he was sorry to see it end.
“It’s just a wonderful rivalry, passionate -- more passionate than you can imagine, because it goes back past football and basketball, it goes back to the border wars and Quantrill’s Raiders coming in and burning down Lawrence. So it’s not just somebody shot a jump shot and blocked it.
“The state line running right down the middle of Kansas City, you live on the Missouri side or the Kansas side. Norm Stewart refusing to ever spend any money in the state of Kansas so they would either drive over on game day or stay in Kansas City, but stay on the Kansas side. There’s some hard, hard feelings there -- it’s not just who is going to win this game. The difference is, that it’s over every spectre, too -- it’s over basketball, football, baseball, they really do have it.
“The passion of the rivalry is really off the charts, and we had some great games. When I first got there, they beat us the first four tmies, and we got them the next six. And I figured out I liked that a heck of a lot better. But it’s truly one of the great rivalries in college athletics. And from a distance, now, 1150 miles or whatever, I would hate to see that end, because it is one of the great rivalries.”
QUESTION: Who wins Saturday’s Border War between Missouri and Kansas, and why?
This entire Mizzou season has been a major surprise, perhaps the biggest in college basketball. So don’t count out the Tigers tomorrow, not for a second. But for all the hoopla around the last scheduled meeting in the series, MU most will have to overcome a Kansas team mindful of how it let one get away in Columbia and do it in a venue where Mizzou has lost by an average of 20 points on its last four trips. If Mizzou can contain Thomas Robinson this time and Jeff Withey again, the Tigers can win. Expect a close one befitting the moment but a narrow Kansas win.
A part of me wants to give you the upset pick so I can thump my chest if the Tigers can pull off the upset. But I think it is such a tough task to go into The Phog and win, so I expect that Kansas will win. However if Mizzou can withstand the knockout punch early and keep it close, they have what it takes to pull of the historic upset. However, Kansas by 10.
Kansas will win, first for the obvious reason that the Jayhawks are at home. I also think they are a more well-rounded team at this point. They seemed to have the first meeting under control until Marcus Denmon single-handedly rescued the Tigers. I’ll take Kansas 74-68.
Kansas. The Tigers haven’t won in Lawrence since the Norm Stewart Era and needed Marcus Denmon to stand on his head and shoot sideways to pull out the victory earlier this season in Columbia. Kansas State has exposed Missouri’s vulnerabilities twice. I think Bill Self is smart enough to see them and can put players on the floor to replicate the Wildcats’ formula.
Kansas will win by double digits. They’re home. They’re rolling. They’re better. I’d wager your mortgage on it. Beakers, 80-69.
Kansas should win signficantly. They are playing very well at this point. Their home court is huge. They want to give the Tigers a rough sendoff to the SEC. This game is a big step toward earning a No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks had the Tigers measured in Columbia. This time they won’t let them get away.
Last time out it was a close game that went Mizzou’s way thanks to a few calls in the last minute. At Phog Allen, I think those calls go the other way. Mizzou’s defense isn’t where it needs to be to stop Kansas and the Jayhawks win the game and get the No. 1 seed at the Midwest Regional in St. Louis.
St Louis PD
BOTTOM LINE: Top five teams playing for the inside track of the Big 12 championship and a chance for a No. 1 seed, what could possibly make this game bigger? Oh, right. There’s a chance they may never play again. Mizzou is fueled by the confidence of an earlier victory over KU, and the Jayhawks can use the same outcome as motivation. The Tigers were roughed up in their last outing against K-State and the Jayhawks play a physical brand. Mizzou wins they shoot and chase down loose balls and long rebounds like it did in Columbia. KU wins if the Jayhawks prevent that from happening. In the ultimate once more with feeling game, the Jayhawks prevail by single digits.
The masses will arrive at Allen Fieldhouse early Saturday afternoon, dressed in bright colors and bearing no casseroles.
Nobody is coming to see a funeral, even if Saturday effectively marks the death of a century-old series. A celebration? It’s not exactly that, either, given the layers of enmity built up between the two sides.
More than anything, Saturday’s game — the final scheduled skirmish in a 100 Years War — will be an event, bringing forth from the woodwork anyone with association to Kansas, Missouri or the sport of basketball.
This became apparent earlier this week as a throng of reporters encircled Tyshawn Taylor, the point guard who will star in Saturday’s Border War finale. Amid the crush of questions, someone piped in and asked Taylor to spell his name.
“You need me to spell my whole name?” he said. “T-Y-S-H-A-W-N …”
And your position?
Clearly, the end of a longstanding rivalry transcends a particular player, a particular team or a particular game. It feels vaguely like a sitcom reunion, like the parade of familiar faces filtering through the courtroom scene in the final episode of “Seinfeld.”
…Pending another meeting in the Big 12 Tournament, Saturday’s game could be the final flashpoint before the Border War is frozen in time. If Missouri wins, the Tigers can claim perpetual supremacy based on a sweep in the final season, though KU can counter with its sizable advantage — 171-95, entering Saturday — in the all-time series.
“We can pull the records out,” said John Hadl, the former KU quarterback who now raises funds for the school’s athletic department. “We’ve been to Final Fours and championship games. They have a bunch of zeroes.”
Recently, Hadl met Norm Stewart — one of the Border War’s greatest heroes or most despised villains, depending on your perspective — for a round of golf near Stewart’s home in Palm Springs, Calif.
It would be hard to find two men more qualified to represent their schools in an eternal pact. Hadl quarterbacked KU to an upset of No. 1 Mizzou in 1960, then witnessed the acrimony over allegations (initiated by Missouri, the Jayhawks will say) that KU used an ineligible player. Stewart, 30-34 against the Jayhawks in 32 years as Missouri’s basketball coach, is remembered in Border War lore for refusing even to buy gas in Kansas, a legend that became gospel even if it wasn’t true.
So, hey, why not settle the whole thing right there? It could have been their secret: 18 holes in the desert to resolve a rivalry soon to be defunct.
“We would have figured out some way to get it tied,” he said.
The story was embellished over the years to almost mythic proportions, how former Missouri coach Norm Stewart so detested the state of Kansas that he would refuse to allow the bus driver to purchase gas on the wrong side of the state line.
In truth, Stewart had a grudging respect for the Kansas basketball program.
…“Did I put a special meaning on it? Sure,” said Stewart, now 77, retired and living in Palm Springs, Calif. “They were always the best in the conference, it seemed, and if you could beat them, you figured you could beat everybody. It became a big game.”
…“We understand the rivalry. We understand there’s history,” added Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor. “But I think we have to understand the game more than the rivalry. The game is important for us. After the game, we can talk about the rivalry and how it ended.”
There’s no shortage of people to talk about it in the meantime.
Students began camping out for prime seats at daybreak Sunday, more than six days before the tip. There have been so many credential requests that there isn’t enough room inside the Phog for all the media planning to descend upon the sleepy college town of Lawrence, Kan.
I’m giddy just thinking about this game. Seriously. I’m writing this sentence with a huge smile on my face. Games like this are what makes this sport incredible. Two top five teams playing their final regular season game for the foreseeable future in what is one of the most intense rivalries in college athletics with the Big 12 title on the line. If I could change anything, I would make this game, which could be the final regular-season matchup in the 105-year history of the Border War, played on the last day of the regular season. It feels like this is for all the marbles. It would be even better if it actually was.
…My pick: I’m going with Kansas. I think the duo of Withey and Robinson will be too much, and the fact the game is in Lawrence will make a difference. I do, however, think it will be just as close and entertaining as their last matchup.
Gov. Sam Brownback expressed disappointment today that he’ll be co-leading a committee meeting with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon when the University of Kansas Jayhawks play the University of Missouri Tigers on Saturday.
“This is terrible," he joked.
He said he’s not interested in the two rivals continuing their matches outside of the Big 12 conference schedule. Missouri is moving to the Southeastern Conference after this school year.
“I thought the KU athletic director had it right," Brownback said after a news conference ended at the Statehouse. “This is like a guy divorcing you and then saying ‘can we still date?’ I don’t think so.”
Missouri started this three years ago with talk of leaving for the Big 10, he said. Now they want to play.
“This has been very difficult for us," Brownback said.
"It's a time of a lot of change in college sports, and it's one of the casualties of it, I think, is a rivalry like this that looks like it's not going to happen for a while. For all of the fans and players who play in it, it's going to be really sad, because it's been the biggest game of the year for a long time." — Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison, who helped Kansas reach consecutive Final Fours.
"There have been many talks of the Civil War and what happened and the whole free state/not-free state. It's a very ugly thing. It's a part of history, though. That's what makes the rivalry so strong of — I couldn't say hatred, because it's not hatred — it's just very hostile toward each other." — Oklahoma City Thunder forward Cole Aldrich, who played from Kansas from 2007-10.
"To me, those were the funnest games. Kansas-Missouri, there's no bigger rivalry. There's just so much history." — Atlanta Hawks guard and former Kansas star Kirk Hinrich.
"It's one of the biggest rivalries in NCAA basketball and it's going to be sad not to have that rivalry going back and forth. ... It's going to be weird. When I was at KU, we always looked forward to that game." — Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers.
"We have to enjoy this atmosphere because, why wouldn't you? It's a rivalry. It's Kansas-Missouri. It's Allen Fieldhouse. It's one of the games you come to Kansas for." — Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor.
UDK: Top ten Border War moments
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According to The Nielsen Co., through games of Feb. 12, Kansas City far surpasses St. Louis in ratings for college basketball shown on ESPN — by far the largest carrier nationally of the sport.
KC has a significant base of fans of Mizzou and KU, plus other schools, and ranked fourth among the 56 major U.S. markets in which viewership is measured electronically; St. Louis was 18th. And KC beat STL by more than 2-1 in ratings numbers. Nielsen says 2.7 percent of homes in the Kansas City area were tuning in to those telecasts, with the figure in St. Louis at 1.2.
The top five markets: Louisville (4.6), Greensboro-High Point, N.C., (3.5), Columbus, Ohio, (2.9), Kansas City (2.7) and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (2.6).
The last time the Tigers and Jayhawks met, with ESPN pumping things up by conducting its "College GameDay'' shows live from Mizzou Arena, the game drew a season-high basketball rating in St. Louis of 9.2. But that was dwarfed by the Kansas City rating — a massive 24.6 figure.
St Louis PD
Tony Parker, a senior at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.), is the No. 21 player in the Class of 2012 and one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation, with UConn, Duke, UCLA, Ohio State, Georgetown, Memphis, Kentucky and Kansas all in the running for his services. He has agreed to chronicle the remainder of his final season and recruiting experiences leading up to his decision through a blog with ESPNHS.
Since my last blog, I have won another region championship -- the third I've won out of the four years in my career under head coach Sharman White. The game was extremely tough. Both teams really came to play. Southwest DeKalb played really hard and they have two big-time players in Auburn signee Jordan Price and Memphis signee Shaq Goodwin.
This time, with it being the region championship and SWD having lost the last two times we played, they came in with a huge chip on their shoulders and played like it. We came out with a chip also because SWD beat us the year before in the region championship. So both teams had a huge chip and felt like we had something to prove, and to me, both teams proved that SWD and MG are two of the best teams in Class 4A. And when we come to play, we are very hard to beat. SWD came out strong, but in the end we came out and finished strong so we were able to escape with a close win.
My Kansas visit
Kansas is a great school and they have produced very good post players. Right now they have a dominant big in Thomas Robinson, and a commitment from Brannen Greene, who is also from Georgia. Brannen and I are cool and he makes Kansas sound great. The Kansas game this weekend is where I might use my last official visit simply because that game will have one of the best -- if not the best -- atmospheres in college basketball. With Missouri being highly ranked and coming off a loss and Kansas still trying to prove themselves as a dominant team, I think it would be a showdown between two hungry teams.
The Vikings (24-3 overall), who advanced to the state quarterfinals at the Tacoma Dome with the victory, hit five 3s in the first half and finished the game with eight, swinging the ball around the zone and repeatedly finding the open man.
Three times it was Beach's lone senior contributor Anrio Adams. The 6-foot-3 guard, who will play basketball at Kansas next year, scored 19 points.
...The game opened with Davis draining a 3 from the top of the key followed a few possessions later by an Adams' steal and reverse dunk.
Talk about cementing your legacy.
That’s exactly what Shabazz Muhammad, the nation’s top-ranked high school basketball player, and his Bishop Gorman High teammates did Friday in the 4A state championship against Reno’s Hug High at the Lawlor Events Center.
His highlight-reel-style dunks one after another, a smooth-shooting stroke from the outside and a dominating performance rarely witnessed in Nevada from a high school player will surely be talked about for years to come. The same can be said for Gorman’s star-studded roster.
The senior wing Muhammad put on a show in his finale, scoring 30 points in the first half to finish with 36 points on 15-of-17 shooting to lead the Gaels to a 96-51 victory for their third state championship in four years.
“The first half was quite a display,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “Shabazz will be the first to say, he gets the spotlight because of his scoring, his highlight dunks and his rankings, but we don’t win this championship without all these guys. We don’t even come close.”
Muhammad outscored Hug 30-25 in the first half, only missing one shot in a streak of scoring that included a trio of nothing-but-net 3-pointers during a two-minute stretch in the second quarter and several dunks typically reserved for a dunking contest. On consecutive possessions, he converted a windmill and then a 360-degree dunk — which earned him a technical foul for celebrating.
“I got up pretty good on that,” Muhammad said of the 360-degree dunk. “I had four dunks in a row. I usually don’t have celebrations, but I had to that time and got a technical.”
The players on the Hug bench even appeared to be in awe of the scoring display, often smiling in amazement after a Muhammad dunk. Following the game, Muhammad was bombarded with picture and autograph requests from fans and teammates.
He even autographed his game shoes and gave them to a fan — a teenager from Reno whom he had never met. While most of the autograph hounds got Muhammad’s signature on their game ticket, Fernando Rodarte, 13, had his all-white Air Jordans signed.
“They are going to be worth something one day,” he said. Muhammad's autograph on a basketball already sells on eBay for $149.
Las Vegas Sun