Mario Chalmers has never been one for deep reflection about his basketball career. He is a gifted player, and he's always figured that accomplishing his dreams would be as simple as putting in the work.
So it's no surprise that, more than two years after making the biggest shot in Kansas basketball history, Chalmers says he never wonders what life would be like if his last-second three-pointer in the 2008 national championship game had missed.
Ever since Mario's Miracle swished through the net in San Antonio's Alamodome, sending the Jayhawks to a 75-68 overtime win over Memphis and their first national title since 1988, he has led a pretty charmed existence.
Chalmers left school a year early and fell to the second round of the NBA Draft, only to be picked and then traded to the Miami Heat, who saw something in him and started him from Day 1. Two years later, Heat president Pat Riley just happened to decide that he wanted to dominate the NBA and signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play alongside Dwyane Wade. Chalmers is now competing for the right to start on one of the most talented teams in the history of his sport.
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Oh, and then there's that whole thing about being able to get a free cocktail anywhere in the state of Kansas for the rest of his life.
"I think God has just blessed me," Chalmers said. "That's the main thing. I've been put in great positions I can succeed in. I think that's a good thing."
As Chalmers heads to Kansas City for Friday night's exhibition game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he'll be fighting for a position that would give him the chance to approach greatness. The Heat will be a spectacle all season, but in order for any of it to matter, James, Wade and Bosh are going to need the right mix of role players around them.
"It's gonna be kind of different," Chalmers said. "I'm used to playing point guard. Those two players (James and Wade) are gonna handle the ball the majority of the time. It's gonna be a great opportunity for me to play the combo guard like I did in college."
The only thing that'll be like college is that Chalmers will be wearing No. 15 after surrendering No. 6 to James. Odds of Chalmers going off for 30 points in the Sprint Center like he did in the 2008 Big 12 tournament title game against Texas are slim, but he'll still be searching for that familiar feeling from the adoring KU fan base.
"That's a game I'm looking forward to right there," Chalmers said. "It's always good to come back there and play in front of my Jayhawk fans and get the love that they give me."
At this point, it's anybody's guess how much Chalmers will play Friday — and the rest of the season. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said last week that Chalmers, who is recovering from a high-ankle sprain he sustained in July, has been outplayed in training camp by Carlos Arroyo. Spoelstra acknowledged to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that "it's not totally fair," given Chalmers' recovery.
No doubt, Chalmers wants to be out there. He's had Wade in his ear all offseason about being that third guard in the starting lineup. Now that the Heat have been the object of so much scrutiny, Chalmers wants to help "The Big Three" quiet their critics.
"I know a lot of people are taking shots at us, and all the naysayers have been talking about LeBron," Chalmers said. "We're all taking mental note of that."
Chalmers would prefer to talk team, but this is a crucial year for him, too. He has gotten off to a solid start to his career, averaging 28.6 minutes and 8.6 points during his first two seasons. But he knows there is a perception out there that he is just a guy who made one big shot. Chalmers insists his game has matured.
"I've just been labeled from that shot," Chalmers said. "I think there's more to my game. This year will be the perfect opportunity for me to prove it."