"In Times of Adversity...Perform"
A motivational phrase used by Mario since his High School basketball days at Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska. It was in high school that Mario recognized that as a player from a state known more for the Northern Lights than basketball, he would face the adversity of those unfamiliar with his skills and abilities and those who felt his accomplishments were due to having a coach who was his father.
Mario quickly learned to use the doubting as motivation to play hard and perform well so that his talent would speak for itself.
"A Champion is born..."
Born May 19, 1986, Almario Vernard Chalmers acquired a love for the game of basketball at the early age of three with a Nerf basketball and hoop. He quickly advanced to the real court by age five, playing his first organized basketball game with the Elmendorf Youth League at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. By age 12, Mario brought home is first championship trophy from the local YMCA league.
As he entered the seventh grade, competitive sports teams were not available at the middle school level. Mario continued to play on advanced YMCA and AAU teams and established himself as a "player to watch" as he entered high school.
As the starting point guard of his high school varsity team, Mario experienced his first trials with adversity with many believing he made the team because his father was the head coach. His performance proved otherwise as he led his veteran team and school to their first state championship in five years. "Rio" went on to win another state championship as a sophomore and second place as a junior. His senior year was highlighted with his selection to the McDonalds All American game where he led the West with a team high 20 points, five steals and five assists. Despite the West falling to the East, Mario returned to Alaska as a champion after winning the 3point shoot-out contest.
Mario's high school career was further highlighted by his winning Alaska 4A State Player of the Year for a third time, an accomplishment shared with only one other player in Alaska, Trajan Langdon.
"I want to be a part of a legacy...."
On May 21, 2004, Mario announced that he would attend the University of Kansas. Recruited as the number two point guard in the class of 2005, he considered Arizona, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech before selecting Kansas.
"I chose the University of Kansas based on the history of the school. Basketball was started here with Mr. Naismith and I would like to be a part of this legacy." - Mario
After earning his starting position by the second half of his first season, Mario quickly became a part of the Kansas history by setting a KU and Big 12 record for most steals in a season by a freshman with 89 in his first year. He was also the second freshman in Big 12 history to win Conference Player of the Week honors and was National Freshman of the week twice during the season. He topped off the season by leading Kansas to their first conference championship since 1999 and earning the honor of Most Outstanding Player of the Big 12 Tournament.
Mario continued to make history his sophomore year by setting a record for most steals in a season with 97. He earned Co-Defensive Player of the Year and All Big-12 Defensive Team honors. During his junior year, Mario tied his steals record set his sophomore year. He also led the team in assists (4.3), 3-point shooting (46.8%) and steals (97) before winning the Big 12 championship in which he scored 30 pts.
The record season continued during the 2008 NCAA Championship game when he hit a 3 point shot with 2.1 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send them into overtime with the Memphis Tigers. The Jayhawks dominated the remainder of the game and went on to win their 5th National Title. Mario was named "Most Outstanding Player" of the tournament.
With more awards to come Mario earned a place on the Defensive First Team and hitting the "Miracle Shot" solidified his place in Kansas Basketball history.
To honor him even more a mural of the "Miracle Shot" was placed on the wall of the new practice facility at the University of Kansas. Mario officially became a part of the KU legacy.
"The Steal of the Draft..."
Shortly after the NCAA Championship win, Mario decided to enter the NBA draft. His stock was high due to his outstanding tournament play and he was projected to be a first round pick. With his parents, Ronnie and Almarie and older sister Roneka by his side, Mario sat anxiously as the first round of the draft came to a close. Finally selected 34th overall by Minnesota, Mario was happy to put on the Timberwolves cap, but ecstatic when he learned that Miami had acquired his rights. By slipping to the second round after such high projections, the player known for steals on the court was affectionately labeled "the steal of the draft".
The arrival in South Beach resulted in a memorable rookie season. Mario started all 82 regular season games and set a record in his 4th NBA game with 9 steals. He ended the season ranked number 1 amongst rookies for steals and 4th overall in the league. He also earned a spot on the All Rookie Second team.
His sophomore season was plagued by injury, starting the season with torn ligaments in his thumb and shoulder, knee and ankle injuries to follow.
"Another shot at a title..."
Determined to overcome the "sophomore slump" Mario entered the summer off season with an intense training schedule. Unfortunately he suffered a high ankle sprain that left him in a cast the remainder of the summer. With the cast removed right before the start of training camp, Mario continued to rehab and strengthen his ankle throughout the season.
By the arrival of playoff season, Mario was at full strength and able to contribute as the team made it to the finals. His most defining moment was a 15 pt performance during game 5 that included a half court buzzer shot that gave the Heat the lead heading into halftime. Unfortunately the Heat did not triumph with a title, but the quest for the ring continues.
The quest for the ring proved to be successful as the HEAT became the 2012 NBA Champions. Mario rose to the occasion by having an exciting game 4, scoring 25 points matching his best performance of the season.
The HEAT hope to repeat and become the NBA Champs for 2013!