When the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder tip off the NBA Finals tonight in Oklahoma City, the Kansas Jayhawks will have three representatives in uniform. Two time Final Four participant Nick Collison along with Mario Chalmers and Cole Aldrich, both from the 2008 Jayhawk National Championship team will dress for their respective teams in search of their first NBA Championship. That means at least one player will earn themselves a ring.
Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich will suit up for the Thunder with Nick Collison playing a more prominent role for the team at this time. The veteran role player comes off the bench in averaging around 17 minutes per contest in spilling both Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka on the interior. That talent and depth has kept the other former Jayhawk, Aldrich, on the sideline but a participant nonetheless with a developing future within the organization.
On the other bench, Mario Chalmers will suit up and start for the Miami Heat. The national title game hero from 2008 finds himself in his second finals in as many years with the super talented Miami Heat. Of the three Jayhawks in this series, Chalmers figures to be the one that could play the largest role in the outcome of the series.
With Oklahoma City trotting out Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Chalmers would appear to be the likely player tasked with defending Westbrook. Westbrook is a load for anyone to handle, but Chalmers did make a pretty good name for himself on the defensive end during his time with Bill Self at Kansas. Still Westbrook is likely a player that Chalmers and the Heat will have to hope to contain because stopping him completely hasn't been accomplished by anyone to date.
Two players from the Bill Self era, one player from Roy Williams departing class. It's a NBA Finals with a Jayhawk feel to it and Kansas fans will be watching. Whether it goes four games or to an exciting game seven, the Kansas basketball program will have another alumni claiming an NBA championship and regardless of which team wins Kansas will also have its first player to hold both an NCAA and NBA title.