Josh Scott had an incredible career at Colorado and much ink has been so eloquently spilled in honor of him. If I learned anything from my first year of college, it's that
Serbia and Austria-Hungary should have duked it out (punnns) with each other instead of getting everyone else involved if someone is better at you than something, do something else. I'm not saying I don't think I could successfully reflect on Scott's career, but I'm not not saying that.
Instead, this article begins with a question that assumes Scott has been one of the greatest Buffs of all time. And that question is this: Should the Buffs retire Josh Scott's number?
Colorado basketball has only retired one number, and it belonged to some dude with more Finals MVPs than hairs on his head.
Chauncey Billups' No. 4 in this rafters because he put Colorado basketball on the map. I don't mean Colorado Buffalo basketball, I mean for the state of Colorado.
Billups singled-handedly carried the Buffs to a 21-win season and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. As a 9-seed, they blew out Indiana and gave North Carolina -- led by Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter -- a run for their money. Before he was drafted third overall, by far the highest any Buffs has been picked, everyone at least knew Colorado the school had a basketball team and Colorado the state had talent.
For reference, Billups basically did what Kris Dunn did for Providence this season, but with less support. Similarly sized and similarly built, Billups and Dunn both dominated with uncanny driving ability, clutch shots galore and all-world perimeter defense. Both got their team to the Big Dance as a nine-seed and furiously challenged top-seeded North Carolina* before getting blown out in the final ten minutes. And just for fun, Dunn has a realistic shot of getting drafted by the Boston Celtics as the third overall pick, just as Billups did 19 years ago.
Colorado was always overlooked in the basketball world, but Billups' dominance for the Buffs showed the latent talent the state had. Never before had a Coloradan been so good or so successful. Billups carried the Buffs to the NCAA Tournament and everyone in the country knew it, including and most fervently young Coloradans who could look up to Billups to know stardom was possible. This wasn't exactly Yao Ming bringing basketball to China, but Billups did all he could for his home state.
The current Colorado team stands to make the same impact as Billups did on the state. In the NCAA Tournament, the Buffs starter four Colorado products in Dom Collier, Xavier Talton, Wesley Gordon and Scott. Never has been done before.
*That last game -- Billups last at CU -- was seven games before I was born. That means if he would've beat North Carolina in the second round and Cal in the Sweet Sixteen, he would've played for the Final Four the day I was born. Hot damn.
Also, if you looked that up you would have deduced that today is my birthday. :)
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I would like to pretend that the Buffs only retire numbers for players of Billups quality and have been as selective as can be, but that doesn't hold any weight. The thing is, Colorado hasn't really had any players besides Billups worth honoring up until now. There was Billups, Jay Humphries, Cory Higgins, Richard Roby, and that's really it. I suppose next would be David Harrison, and, no disrespect, if you want to retire David Harrison's number, you should probably just leave.
Those players were all great in their own ways, but none had a lasting impact on the Colorado basketball program that would need to be commemorated.
Tad Boyle's teams have been without a doubt the most successful in CU history. What he brought to the program (relevancy, consistency, etc.) cannot be measured and it should never be overlooked. Honoring Scott wouldn't be an individual accomplishment; it would honor the entire Tad Boyle era by immortalizing the most impactful player of that era.
Scott wasn't the best player Colorado has ever had, and he may not even be the best player Boyle has coached here. Three current NBA players have played under Boyle and all are worth some consideration, but none of whom deserve for their number to be retired.
Alec Burks is probably the second best player in Colorado history, after Billups of course. Burks sliced and slashed his way to Big XII Freshman of the Year the same year Xavier Henry was starring at Kansas. Xavier Henry! It sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but you don't know how much I like Henry.
Burks' sophomore season was even better, as was his team. But thanks to a snub from the selection committee (VCU -- who actually made the Final Four -- was chosen over CU), Burks finished his career in the NIT Final Four. He declared for the draft thereafter and, injury woes aside, has had a delightful NBA career.
However, he only played two seasons with the Buffs. You could argue that Billups only played two seasons, but he was also Chauncey fuckin' Billups. Burks didn't play long enough and wasn't magical enough to make up for the time lost. That's why Tre`Shaun Fletcher wears No. 10.
Andre Roberson can be looked at similarly. Roberson wasn't quite as good as Burks was, but he was damn fine in his own right, and his teams were more successful. Like Burks and Billups, Roberson left school early. I don't want to disqualify someone because of playing time, but Roberson didn't make nearly as much of an impact on Colorado basketball in that time as Scott did in four years. I would entertain a Roberson argument, but I wouldn't retire his number before Scott, Burks or the next guy. At that point, there would be too many numbers retired.
And now we have Spencer Dinwiddie. In his three excellent years, no one was even close to as valuable as him, on or off the court. If you needed an example, just look at the 2013-14 Buffs before and after Dinwiddie was swallowed whole by Washington's demon court. Before, they were a top-15 team and climbing. After, they were meh and were annihilated by Pittsburgh in the NCAA Tournament.
If there was one player besides Scott who have his number retired, it would be the mustachioed Mayor. However, he only played two and half years, and he doesn't make up for that lost time in the way Billups did.
If Dinwiddie stayed for his senior season, his number would/should/could be retired. That said, I don't want to suggest he should have stayed. I don't know the popular opinion around Boulder, but I believe that if a player has a career threatening injury and still has the chance to guarantee money for himself, he should take that chance. I love Dinwiddie and I would have loved for him to return, but it was prudent to leave for the NBA.
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The main argument for retiring Scott's number is that he was invaluble.
His excellence on and off the court has been harped on by many already and he'll go down as one of the best Buffs ever. His success exemplifies the Tad Boyle era, the most successful Colorado has ever been, and that era should be honored in some way. His Coloradaness (whatever) means that he was and still is a visible product of Colorado's growing basketball culture in the same sense Billups was and still is.
Josh Scott is the most impactful Buffalo since Chauncey Billups. For that, No. 40 should be up in the rafters.