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Wisconsin men’s basketball: Michael Finley’s No. 24 jersey joins the Kohl Center rafters

Michael Finley’s number was officially retired on Sunday afternoon.

Michael Finley speaking with media members prior to Sunday’s game against Michigan.
Matt Belz

MADISON — “It’s about time.”

Michael Finley has been long considered one of the very best players to ever don a Wisconsin Badgers jersey. On Sunday afternoon, the former star finally saw his number No. 24 retired and added alongside Frank Kaminsky (No. 44) and Ab Nicholas (No. 8) inside the Kohl Center.

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.

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.

While the honor was long overdue, the day was a special for not only Finley but also many Wisconsin fans who remember his contributions to the program back in the early 1990s. He is now currently an executive for the Dallas Mavericks, and Finley was very complimentary of the current Badgers though he was unable to discuss any individual player given his front office role with an NBA team.