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Basketball: Wildcats to retire Bibby's jersey


By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 15, 2004
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The Arizona athletics department announced yesterday its intention to retire the jersey of former Arizona basketball player and NBA star Mike Bibby Nov. 11 before an exhibition game against Sonoma State in McKale Center.

Bibby spent an eventful two seasons in Arizona, leading the Wildcats to the 1997 NCAA championship, and winning the national Freshman of the Year Award. In his career, Bibby was a consensus All-American, a Pacific 10 Conference Player of the Year, and a member of the All-Final Four team in 1997. He still ranks in the top 10 in five UA basketball statistical categories.

Bibby joins UA legends Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott as the only players to see their jerseys hanging in the rafters of McKale Center.

"It's very well deserved and it's a tremendous honor," said UA assistant coach Josh Pastner who was also a teammate of Bibby at Arizona. "He's been a great representative of the university."

Originally from Phoenix, the 6-foot-1 point guard came the UA in the fall of 1996 and left as the highest draft pick ever from Arizona, getting drafted second overall by the Memphis Grizzlies. Currently playing for the Sacramento Kings, Bibby has had a successful NBA career up to this point, including taking the Kings to the Western Conference Finals.

"He's one of the best players at his position in the world," Pastner said.

Bibby averaged 15.4 points per game at Arizona and used his silky-smooth shooting stroke to shoot 39 percent from the 3-point arc. He also dished out 5.5 assists per game and holds the record for most steals in a single season. But none of those stats would have come without the hard work and dedication that he put in.

"He and I worked out every single day for two consecutive years," Pastner said. He would make 500 shots on game days. He worked seven days a week. It didn't matter if it was Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year's. He was in the gym every single day. He was extremely dedicated."

That dedication is one of the reasons Bibby helped enhance Arizona's basketball reputation, Pastner said.

"Mike means a lot to the program," Pastner said. "He's a very good person and he does things the right way. He represents our university and our community at the highest level. We're very fortunate that he represents our alumni at the University of Arizona."

Bibby is arguably one of the best players to wear the Wildcat uniform, or "the best player other than Josh Pastner," as the assistant coach pointed out.

Now Bibby's career will be represented by his jersey on the wall of McKale, reminding fans of the peak of Arizona basketball.

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