The enduring image, of course, was always the yelling. It was vociferous. It was constant. It was sometimes a little angry.
But it always came from a certain place, they’d say, a place of endearment.
Mario Chalmers thought of LeBron James as a mentor. James thought of Chalmers, the former Kansas star, as a little bro, somebody to lead. Oftentimes, of course, the relationship manifested itself in a screaming match on the sidelines, as the Miami Heat’s stars unloaded on Chalmers. But after four years of playing with James on South Beach, Chalmers says he’ll miss playing with his big bro.
“You can’t replace a guy like that,” Chalmers said on Monday, while playing host to his annual charity golf event at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence. “He was a mentor to me; somebody that I was very close with. (He’s) somebody that I still am very close with.”
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James left the Heat in early July, electing to head back home to Cleveland. But Chalmers stayed in Miami, signing a two-year deal worth $8.3 million. He returns to a franchise that also retained Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and signed free agent Luol Deng. The Heat won’t be title favorites next season, but Chalmers is excited to see how good they can be.
“It’s going to be fun,” Chalmers said. “It’s a different challenge that we got to face, but we’re ready for it.”
Chalmers, who helped the Heat to back-to-back NBA Championships in 2012 and 2013, averaged 10 points and five assists this past season, his sixth since leaving Kansas in 2008. He was, at worst, a key cog in a budding NBA dynasty, and he figured to be in for a nice payday as free agency beckoned.
Then came the playoffs.
Chalmers managed just 4.4 points per game during the NBA Finals series loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The performance downgraded Chalmers’ free-agent stock — and undoubtedly cost him some money — but it did little to dampen his trademark confidence. Even with LeBron gone, Chalmers still has that.
“I felt comfortable being back there,” Chalmers said. “I felt like it was my opportunity to finally have my own team and give it my all.”
Self back in Lawrence
Kansas coach Bill Self and assistant coach Norm Roberts joined Chalmers at Alvamar on Monday, taking an afternoon off after a month on the road for July recruiting.
“It’s never a fun month,” Self said. “But I think we got some things accomplished. We’re in on some good kids; whether or not we can close remains to be seen, but certainly I like the kids that we’re in on.”
One of those targets, five-star big man Stephen Zimmerman of Las Vegas, announced this week that he will take an official visit to Kansas for Late Night in the Phog on Oct. 10. Zimmerman is also taking visits to North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA and Arizona.
Kansas forwards Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucas are heading overseas in August for some summer basketball. Mickelson will play for Guy Rancourt’s USA East Coast team that will compete in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia and Finland, beginning on Aug. 4.
Lucas, meanwhile, will tour with Athletes in Action in Estonia and Latvia, beginning on Aug. 8. Mickelson will be coached by a familiar face in former K-State coach Frank Martin, while Lucas will team up with K-State’s Brandon Bolden and Justin Edwards and Wichita State’s Darius Carter.