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Wisconsin men’s basketball: UW set to retire Michael Finley’s number on Sunday

The legendary Badger will see his No. 24 raised to the rafters during the game against Michigan this weekend.

Wisconsin V Purdue

On Sunday afternoon, during halftime of the Wisconsin men’s basketball game against the Michigan Wolverines, UW legend Michael Finley will have his number retired. Finley’s No. 24 will become the third men’s basketball jersey to hang in the Kohl Center rafters alongside Ab Nicholas’ No. 8 and Frank Kaminsky’s No. 44. It is important to remember that the No. 24 will remain in circulation at Wisconsin, but Finley’s name and number will be forever celebrated.

“Michael Finley’s impact on Wisconsin basketball is as profound as any athlete we’ve had and I’m thrilled that we are able to honor him by retiring his jersey,” athletic director Chris McIntosh said. “Finley’s fingerprints are all over the revival of our program in the 1990s, and his legacy is alive in the incredible success we’ve enjoyed over the past 30 years. Finley has spent his life serving as an incredible ambassador for not only Badger basketball, but also for our university in general. We can’t wait to welcome him back to the Kohl Center later this season.”

The first Badger to score 2,000 points, Finley’s collegiate career (1991-95) coincided with the rebirth of Wisconsin men’s basketball. He helped lead the Badgers to the 1994 NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin’s first appearance in 47 years. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and a three-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American, rising to No. 12 on the Big Ten’s all-time scoring list by the end of his career.

After his illustrious career in Madison, he was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. He was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Team in 1996 and he earned All-Star selections in 2000 and 2001 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. In 2007, he started all 20 playoff games for the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 11.3 points per game and helping them to win the NBA Championship.

Game 4: San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers
Finley (left) and Tony Parker celebrate their NBA title win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

He ended up playing 15 years in the NBA with the Suns, Mavs, Spurs and Boston Celtics. He finished his NBA career with 17,306 points (15.7 per game) and ranks among the top 20 in NBA history in career 3-pointers made.

“For me, that’s one of the big things I look forward to seeing when my number is in the rafters. It’s also something of a legacy for my kids. If they ever decided to go to the UW, they can see their last name up there and that represents a lot for me as well,” Finley said.

Finley will chat with the media before the game on Sunday morning and Belz is hoping to be there to cover the whole day.