KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It's not often Mario Chalmers receives a louder ovation than LeBron James., his Miami Heat teammate.
On Friday night, the two-time defending NBA champions were playing the Charlotte Bobcats at the Sprint Center, about 40 miles from the University of Kansas, where Chalmers starred on the Jayhawks' national championship team.
So Chalmers wasn't surprised to receive more of a reaction from the crowd during the 86-75 preseason victory. In fact, he expected it.
"It's custom out here, it's supposed to be like that," Chalmers said. "Anytime I get to come back and play in front of the Jayhawks fans it's a lot of fun."
James paced the Heat (3-0) with 20 points while Chalmers added 10 points and four assists.
Michael Beasley, who played at Kansas State and faced Chalmers as a Big 12 foe for one season, scored 13 points. Early in the first quarter Beasley scored nine of 10 points, including six straight, in the run that gave the Heat their first breathing room.
Even with Beasley playing well, Chalmers wasn't worried about losing any of the fans' affection.
"This is more of KU territory, Sprint Center," Chalmers said.
This is the fourth year Miami has played an exhibition game in Kansas City, and the crowd was decidedly in the Heat's favor. So even though he wasn't necessarily the star of the show, that was just fine with James.
"It's a great crowd," James said. "Obviously they love us and we're very thankful that they welcome us with open arms every time we come here and play. It's fun to play in front of a crowd like that."