Bob Davis left the Jayhawk Radio Network mic after last season, but he returned to Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday to honor a new Kansas Jayhawks great.
Before introducing Brandon Rush, a ceremonial video played on the video board, incorporating Davis' famous "swish" calls along with a few of Rush's best shots.
"One of the greatest defenders in KU history!" Davis boomed to the Allen Fieldhouse crowd after taking the audience through the story of Rush's stonewall defense on Stephen Curry in the 2008 NCAA Elite Eight in a way only a 32-year radio veteran could.
Curry passed the ball off to a teammate on the final play of the game, then the miss that ensued bought the Jayhawks a spot in the 2008 Final Four. It was one of many moments that defines Kansas basketball, and one of many reasons Rush addressed Kansas fans Wednesday night.
"This is the biggest day of my life," Rush said in his speech on James Naismith Court.
Rush's jersey went into the rafters on Feb. 22, as the curtain unveiled his No. 25, to the right of the Mario Chalmers' No. 15. It will stay there among Kansas basketball's most venerable athletes for the rest of Kansas basketball history.
Rush's No. 25 hangs on the opposite end of the Fieldhouse of the team's 2008 national title banner. Rush helped win that title, and joins 2008 teammate Mario Chalmers as players with retired jerseys from that championship team. Rush also joins Danny Manning and B.H. Born as players with the No. 25 jersey retired.
The All-American standout played under Bill Self from 2006-08.
"That's just a big deal, for me and my family," Rush told the Kansan in a phone interview. "To have my name retired in the rafters at a very prestigious school and just to have my jersey retired there is a real big thing for me."
In only three years at Kansas, Rush reached 23rd in all-time scoring for Kansas with 1,477 points. He averaged 13.6 points over three years, having averaged over 13 points each year, and averaged 5.5 rebounds.
Rush's ceremony came at halftime of Kansas' conference-clinching win over TCU, 87-68. Kansas tied UCLA and John Wooden's record of 13 straight conference titles. The Jayhawks maintained similar dominance even in Rush's playing days. The team won the fourth in that streak in Rush's junior year, before he left for the NBA.
Each year a new Kansas basketball season starts, and Kansas coach Bill Self is never shy about comparing the new squad to the one that won it all in 2008.
'When we won it in '08' or 'That '08 team' are familiar refrains for Self in news conferences. For fans, too, it makes sense that a perennially top-ranked team should be measured to the squad that achieved what Kansas takes the floor every season intending to accomplish.
"It means all the hard work, all the wins, all the rough practices have paid off for us," Rush said. "It's very exciting to see everybody comparing the team to what we were in '08."
Rush thanked a number of people in his life when speaking about his accomplishment. When he mentioned Self, he quipped about the treadmill Self used to teach him to become a better basketball player.
Self forced Rush to run on a treadmill at practice, Rush said. Rush called the treadmill his fondest memory of Self.
"I just remember the times when he told me to be aggressive and if I wasn't aggressive he put me on the treadmill," Rush said. "I used to run on the treadmill a lot... I used to be on the treadmill because I wasn't being aggressive, not taking the shots. That's one of the memories that stand out about coach Self."
Rush finally heard fans cheer his name in Allen Fieldhouse for the first time in nine years. One of his best memories of the Fieldhouse included that crowd. One of Rush's best memories in the Fieldhouse was the ovation received when he returned from an ACL injury in November 2007.
"When I got back from my ACL injury, the crowd made — the ovation I got when I came back in the game and all the fans showing their love and everybody showing their love for me," Rush said. "That's a pretty good moment for me."
It was that ACL injury that thwarted his NBA hopes, as Rush declared for the NBA Draft after the 2006-07 season, his sophomore season at Kansas. Instead, Rush recovered in the offseason and stayed one more season to win the national title and then went 13th overall to the Portland Trailblazers in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Rush returned for his junior season to play 38 games and average 13.3 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Max Falkenstien's jersey with No. 60 stitched on — representing the number of years he broadcasted for Kansas — hangs in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse. The jersey retirement was a surprise to Falkenstien before a game in 2006.
From college to a professional career that now finds him with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rush said the thing he learned most from his college days is the value of relationship building.
"You never know who you're going to come across in the world, so I have to just build relationships with guys, with fans, with alumni," Rush said. "Just things like that, I've learned that building relationships with people helps out in the world."
Since launching from the Jayhawks' success in 2008, Rush still hasn't found himself far from greatness.
He met up with the standout Davidson guard from 2008, Stephen Curry, who improved to astronomical levels since he was his teammate with the Golden State Warriors. Rush played off the bench on the Warriors' team that went 73-9, topping the Chicago Bulls' all-time best single-season record in the NBA.
Rush signed with his current team, the Timberwolves, in July 2016. He teams up with former 2008 teammate Cole Aldrich and former 2013 Kansas one-and-done Andrew Wiggins. He also lines up with Karl-Anthony Towns, a 21-year-old who Rush pointed out as already one of the best players he's ever played with.
The occasion on Wednesday offered Rush another chance to look back on everything he accomplished in his career.
"Some days I look back, like, man, I won a national championship, I won an NBA championship, broke the record," Rush said. "I mean, to experience all those feats is very important to me and it goes to show how God has worked for me."
Rush said he wasn't sure when he'd return to Allen Fieldhouse for a game, but with his jersey number in the rafters, fans will now recognize his contributions to the program forever.
— Edited by Allison Crist