Wisconsin to retire Michael Finley’s jersey

He was 1st Badger to score 2,000 points

One of the true legends of Wisconsin basketball, Michael Finley, will be immortalized when his name and number are raised into the rafters of the Kohl Center later this season. The University of Wisconsin will officially retire Finley’s No. 24 jersey during a halftime ceremony, as announced by athletic director Chris McIntosh on Sept. 24.

“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,” 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.”

“It’s a great honor,” Finley said. “It represents a lot, not just to me but to all the teammates I had. We have a bond. It represents those guys and the students that were there when I was. They can say, ‘I went to school with that guy, and he represented the university in a great way.’

“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.

“It gives guys who have grown up in a similar situation to the way I grew up, it gives them an example that if you put the hard work into something and dedicate yourself to being a better person and player, good things can happen. Maybe it gives them the inspiration to see that they can make it one day.”

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. The No. 24 will remain in circulation at Wisconsin, but Finley’s name and number will be forever celebrated.

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.

The Maywood, Illinois, native was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and a three-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American, rising to 12th on the Big Ten’s all-time scoring list by the end of his career. The only Badger to score 500 points in three different seasons and average better than 20 points per game in three different years, Finley was inducted into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.

A first-round NBA draft pick by the Phoenix Suns in 1995, Finley was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Team in 1996. He earned All-Star selections in 2000 and 2001 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. That was during a stretch of five-straight seasons where Finley averaged at least 20 points per game.

Finley helped the San Antonio Spurs win an NBA championship in 2007, starting all 20 playoff games and averaging 11.3 points per game during the championship run. During his 15-year NBA career, Finley played for the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, making the playoffs 10 times. 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.