It goes without saying just how special it is to play basketball for Kansas. It’s an opportunity only offered to a select few.
Nearly 800 Kansas men’s and women’s basketball letterwinners have played in Allen Fieldhouse, Hoch Auditoria or Robinson Gymnasium in the program's 118-year history.
But the scrupulous fraternity of retired jerseys is even more elite, as only 32 people’s efforts — thus far — have warranted the retirement of their jersey.
The 32nd jersey retirement occurred on Wednesday, as Brandon Rush’s No. 25 now hangs in its rightful place in Allen Fieldhouse.
It’s important to note that Kansas retires jerseys. Kansas doesn’t retire numbers — at least it hasn’t yet. If that were the case, Kansas basketball players wouldn’t be left with many numbers to choose from. (That’s also why there are three No. 25s dangling in Allen Fieldhouse, as Rush joins B.H. Born and Danny Manning in that trio.)
The “long-standing” tradition of retiring jerseys isn’t as established as one would think. Kansas first intended to retire the jerseys of Clyde Lovellette, Manning, Born, Charlie B. Black, Paul Endacott, Wilt Chamberlain and Charlie T. Black during the 1991-92 season. (Chamberlain’s jersey was retired in 1998.)
Originally, players needed to be named college basketball player of the year, most valuable player of the NCAA Tournament or be named All-American four times to have automatic jersey retirement. In 1997, the criteria loosened for Ray Evans, an All-American in both football and basketball.
Before the 2002-03 season, induction criteria was expanded again to include consensus first-team All-Americans, two-time first-team All-America selections and Academic All-American of the Year.
Only one non-player has a jersey retired: Max Falkenstien. A jersey bearing Falkenstien’s name and the number “60” was added to the rafters in 2006 after his 60-year broadcasting career calling Kansas football and basketball games.
Of the 32, there are stories that are told again and again, like the career stories of Chamberlain and Mario Chalmers. And then there are others, like Angela Aycock, an All-American Kansas basketball player who, after retiring from her WNBA career, became a nun in the Russian Orthodox Church.
In honor of Rush’s jersey being officially memorialized in the Kansas basketball mecca alongside other Kansas legends, here are the stories of the 32 retired jerseys.
— Edited by Ashley Hocking