Busy playing in the NBA the past 10 years, Brandon Rush hasn’t paid a heck of a lot of attention to hot topics involving his alma mater (Kansas) and brother Kareem’s alma mater (Missouri).
“What happened, anyway?” Brandon Rush, KU’s 33-year-old former smooth-shooting wing from Kansas City who now lives in Indiana, said with a smile, asking why the Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers haven’t played a men’s basketball game since February 25, 2012, when the Jayhawks toppled the Tigers, 87-86, in overtime at Allen Fieldhouse.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” the soft-spoken Rush added quickly, expressing his opinion in the affirmative that the two schools should play games again for real, not only alumni games such as Saturday night’s “Rivalry Renewed” contest for charity at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence.
The Jayhawks have an unwritten policy to not schedule regular-season games against the Tigers, ostensibly because Mizzou willingly bolted from the Big 12 Conference to the SEC knowing that one result of that move would mean no more games against KU, which leads the all-time series in men’s basketball over the Tigers, 173-95.
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“I think so,” 2011 KU graduate Tyrel Reed said, asked if the squads should schedule regular-season games again. “Me as a fan, as a Kansas boy (from Burlington), I think it’s a huge deal having Kansas-Missouri. I hope they can figure out a way to get it done.”
Reed, a 29-year-old doctor of physical therapy in Lawrence, said when he thinks of KU-MU, “I think of a heated rivalry. I think of bad blood. I think of a history of Kansas-Missouri. I’m sad to see it go and us not play each other right now. Hey, if we can do something like this (KU-MU alumni game) and maybe spark something in the future to get back together, that would be fun.”
Reed’s favorite moment in the KU-MU series came his senior year (2010-11). He hit a big shot late in the Jayhawks’ 70-66 win in 2011 in Columbia, Mo. KU went 14-2 in conference that season.
“The moment I get reminded the most, I hit a shot from the corner to kind of seal the game my senior year and kind of turned and yelled at the crowd (MU student section),” Reed recalled. “That’s the big one I remember my senior year. They couldn’t come back and win. That (emotion) brings out how much this is a rivalry, hit a shot like that against a team you don’t like a lot. It’s OK to show emotion like that,” added Reed, not one to normally show emotion on the court.
Yes, he wanted to beat MU desperately, but Reed can’t go so far as to say he hates the Tigers’ program.
“There’s a lot of hate there for sure between a lot of people,” Reed said. “I can’t really say hate because I had a lot of AAU teammates (who were Tigers) — Marcus Denmon, Michael Dixon, all those guys I played with. They were on the same team as me and Brady (Morningstar) and Travis (Releford). We played for summer Pump N Run team. I don’t think we (Jayhawks and Tigers) like each other, but that’s OK.”
Morningstar, Reed, Releford and Rush were all in Independence to play in the alumni game Saturday, as well as Mario Chalmers and Jeff Graves. KU had just six players; Missouri seven.
Former KU guard Sherron Collins acknowledges he despises MU.
“Ain’t no other way to put it, I hate those guys,” Collins said earlier in the week in Lawrence in advance of Saturday’s contest. “I hate everything about Mizzou. There’s a kid from Chicago (his hometown) going to Mizzou. I know him really well. I told him, ‘Can’t support him,’’’ Collins added, smiling.
“We hate ‘em, hate everything about ‘em. I hate going there, hate them coming to our place. K-State was a rivalry. I think that one is a more respected rivalry. Those guys … I just don’t like them,” Collins added.
Brandon Rush, by the way, did say a bit more about the rivalry than expressing his simple desire for the teams to meet again.
He indicated his “least favorite guy on their team was Thomas Gardner. He could score the ball. He was my least favorite to guard. The thing I remember is Thomas Gardner and the games were always down to the wire. That’s how we played them every time,” added Brandon, who still is hoping for an NBA contract so his career can continue.
He was happy to support his brother Kareem’s KU-MU alumni contest. Proceeds were to go to the Rush Forward Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City and This Too Shall Pass.
Kareem, 37, last played in the NBA in 2009-10. He signed with the KC Tornadoes minor league team last January and played in a few games.
“Always,” Brandon Rush said of helping his brothers. “I admire what they both (older brothers Kareem and JaRon) did on the floor and for me. After watching them I had no choice but to play (basketball). When I started to play, I loved it,” Brandon added.