MIAMI Everywhere Mario Chalmers goes these days, someone asks about The Shot.
You know the one. Down by three, 2.1 seconds left, NCAA title game, Kansas vs. Memphis. Chalmers gets the ball near the top of the key, lets fly over the outstretched arm of Memphis guard Derrick Rose and waits for the crowd to roar. They did, the Jayhawks head to overtime and minutes later, they're the national champions and Chalmers is the hero of the Sunflower State.
"The biggest shot in Kansas history," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It'll never be forgotten."
Fast forward 2 1/2 months. Somehow, on NBA draft night, Chalmers felt he was forgotten.
Fortunately for him, the Miami Heat remembered. Now, Chalmers starts anew. Drafted 34th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and subsequently traded to the Heat for two second-round picks and cash, the boyish-looking 6-foot-1 guard who grew up amid the long winters of Anchorage now heads to sultry South Beach. He expected to be a first-round selection and so did the Heat, who had him ranked 12th on their draft board but both sides couldn't be happier with the outcome. "For them to think that highly of me, it's a great honor," Chalmers said.
Chalmers will likely see plenty of minutes this coming week at summer league in Orlando, where the Heat will play five games in five days starting Monday. Sure, most eyes in the stands at Miami's summer games will likely be tuned on No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley Chalmers' rival from Kansas State this past season but the Heat will be paying attention to what Chalmers can do as well.
Upgrading the point guard position is one of Miami's top priorities this summer.
Incumbent starter Jason Williams is an unrestricted free agent and isn't a guarantee to return, backup Chris Quinn is a restricted free agent who may be lured elsewhere, and Marcus Banks whom the Heat got last season in the deal that sent Shaquille O'Neal to Phoenix and brought Shawn Marion to Miami is still considered to be a bit of an unproven commodity. Chalmers knows opportunity is knocking.
"We don't want to put too much on his shoulders, but he definitely shows some good leadership qualities out there," new Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's very good at communicating and talking to his teammates. Pays attention, he knows what's going on, you can tell he's a highly intelligent guy."
Oh, and he can flat-out play, too.
His shot in the NCAA championship game which immediately began being mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan's jumper for North Carolina against Georgetown in 1982 and Keith Smart's baseline make in the final seconds of Indiana's 1987 title-game win over Syracuse is hardly the only highlight from Chalmers' three seasons at Kansas.
Chalmers scored 30 points in the Jayhawks' win over Texas in the league title game this past season. But even with a Most Outstanding Player award from the Final Four on his resume, Chalmers' college calling card was defense: He was the 2007 Big 12 defensive player of the year, held Texas star guard D.J. Augustin to 1-for-13 shooting in a regular-season meeting earlier this year, and holds Kansas' single-season record for steals (97, set in each of the last two years).
"I take a lot of pride in my defense," Chalmers said. "I think that starts with my mom. Growing up, she always instilled in me defense and my dad always instilled offense. I just tried to use them both and that's why I'm the player I am today."
BEASLEY RETURNS TO CONTACT DRILLS: Michael Beasley resumed contact drills with the Miami Heat summer league team Saturday afternoon, his first regular basketball activity since slightly cracking his sternum three days earlier.
His status Monday for the summer-league opener in Orlando against the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose, who went No. 1 overall in the June 26 draft, one spot ahead of Beasley remains listed as day-to-day.
Beasley was struck by a teammate's elbow in a defensive drill Wednesday, causing the injury. The former Kansas State star, who averaged 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds in his lone college season, had only participated in non-contact work since.