COLUMBIA, Mo. — Riddle me this Bat Man: How is it that the University of Missouri’s record holder for career points (2,580), single-season points (821, 1986-87), career scoring average leader for a four-year player (19.9) and 2012 Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Inductee had yet to have his jersey number retired?
An oversight? Hardly. Better late than never? Preposterous. A long time coming? Absolutely absurd and ridiculous.
Thirty-one years after the fact, Derrick Chievous, one of the most colorful, decorated, prolific scorers and splendid players in the history of Missouri Basketball, finally had his No. 3 raised to the rafters of Mizzou Arena at halftime of Tuesday night’s 66-58 loss.
The Southeastern Conference game pitted his Tigers against the surging Kentucky Wildcats, a vastly improved squad that’s ranked fourth in the country. The team features a collection of basketball talents that’s become increasingly cohesive, is peaking as we approach March Madness and destined to become a serious contender for both a top seed as well as a prospective national champion.
Chievous was nicknamed the Band-Aid Man because he, well, sported a Band-Aid as his trademark during his playing days.
Chievous took his well deserved—past due—place among an exclusive list of notable basketball players whose accomplishments earned them the distinction that no future hoopsters would don the number they wore. He joins Bill Stauffer’s No. 43, Norm Stewart’s No. 22, Willie Smith’s No. 30, Steve Stipanovich’s No. 40, Jon Sundvold’s No. 20 and Doug Smith’s No. 34 as honored members of this illustrious club.
Can someone, anyone, affiliated with Mizzou and this process explain why this ceremony didn’t take place under five previous athletic directors, namely Dave Hart, Dan Devine, Joe Castiglione, Mike Alden and Mack Rhodes? You mean it took an individual with no prior ties to Columbia in Athletic Director Jim Sterk to see to it that a wrong was righted?
“C’mon man!” as Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter would say. Chievous didn’t even know how Sterk got his phone number in the first place to discuss setting the stage to make the ceremony a reality. How crazy is it that the career scoring leader and MU All-American hadn’t been honored to date? How tragic would it have been if Chievous, 51, had been awarded his place posthumously?
It was tough enough on him that none of the teams on which he played advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament for four consecutive years. Had they done so, he would have added to his record numbers.
The aforementioned athletic director regimes prior to Jim Sterk dropped the ball in retiring the Band-Aid Man’s number... simply an inexcusable, unfathomable error. There’s no excuse for not getting it done long ago. But, here’s hoping Sterk’s push to do the right thing simultaneously vindicated those wielding the power or influence to have seen to it that Chievous was revered in a much more timely fashion.
Mizzou lost credibility with the manner in which retiring Band-Aid Man’s number was handled. I can only hope that Derrick Chievous, who’d basically dismissed the event would ever happen, enjoyed his historical moment in the spotlight.