Shawn Respert In 1995 - He Did So Much More Than Kiss The Block S

Shawn Respert In 1995 - He Did So Much More Than Kiss The Block S

Basketball

Shawn Respert In 1995 - He Did So Much More Than Kiss The Block S

Michigan State legend Shawn Respert has a list of accomplishments as a Spartan that’s a mile long.  And in 1995, he led Jud’s team to two victories over Michigan during a season that goes down as one of the best individual season-long performances in program history.

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When Shawn Respert leaned down and kissed the Block S at center court of the Breslin Center as he left the floor for the final time as a Spartan in 1995, he began a tradition that’s as special as any other in all of college basketball.

Every senior since then has followed in Respert’s footsteps by thanking the entire Michigan State program with a similar mid-court kiss at the very end of his career as a Spartan.

When Respert somewhat spontaneously created the tradition, he had become Michigan State’s all-time leading scorer, having scored 2,531 points over his four years in Green and White.

Although, Respert wasn’t being completely spontaneous.

A couple of seasons earlier, members of Michigan’s Fab Five flamboyantly rubbed their butts all over the Block S after Michigan had defeated Michigan State in the Breslin Center.

Some of us were immediately reminded of that earlier this Fall when members of Michigan’s football program behaved in almost an identical manner prior to the Michigan State – Michigan game at Spartan Stadium.

The idea that Michigan State’s program is “bush league” seems comical to those of us who were sitting mere feet from the Fab Five when they rubbed their butts into the Block S that night.

Respert’s respectful show of appreciation when he kissed the Block S upon leaving the court for the final time after one of the greatest careers ever in the history of the program served as his own way of letting the butt-rubbers know that they failed in their efforts to smear Michigan State’s traditions.

And so whenever some of us see the seniors kiss the mid-court logo when they leave the floor for the final time, we know that it’s more than just a simple “thank you” and that it grew out of the rivalry.

Over the course of that senior year back in 1995, Respert averaged 25.6 points per game and was named the Big Ten’s Player of the Year.

While Respert’s statistic and awards were certainly a big part of what made him a Spartan legend for all time, the fact that he led his team to two victories over Michigan in his senior season and in what was Jud Heathcote’s final year wearing the Spartan Green sportcoat on the Michigan State bench might be as important as any statistical achievement.

On January 22nd, 1995, Respert put on a show at Crisler Arena Center Gymnasium and led the #12 Spartans to a 73-71 victory.

Heading into that game, the Spartans had not defeated the Fab Five-led Michigan program since 1992.

But, Michigan State brought a #12 ranking and a laser-focused and piping hot Respert into the game and left Ann Arbor a winner behind Respert’s 33 points, 30 of which he scored in the second half.

A little more than a month later, on February 25th, Respert and his teammates completed the two-game sweep over Michigan with a 67-64 win in East Lansing.

With the game hanging in the balance, Michigan fouled Respert with State leading 65-64 with 35 seconds left after Respert had scored 19 points on 7 of 15 from the field.

Respert, of course, calmly and cooly drained the free throws and followed those up with a key steal that led to Michigan State securing the home win, the Spartans’ first over Michigan in four years.

The current Spartans can look to Shawn Respert for inspiration as they prepare to compete with Michigan all throughout the conference grind that’s right around the corner.

It sure does look like the Big Ten Championship might come down to the Spartans and the Wolverines.

In 1995, Respert managed to score 33 and 21 points over the two games played between the rivals.

If any of the current Spartans are looking for any additional motivation when the time comes, they can look right to Shawn Respert.

33 points in a 73-71 win at Ann Arbor.

21 points in a 67-64 win at East Lansing.

Letting the Fab Five know that their demonstration at mid-court was garbage by creating the tradition of kissing the mid-court logo when he left the Breslin Center court for the final time.

Becoming the all-time leading scorer for Michigan State and doing it with class.

Shawn Respert is every bit the legend Magic Johnson, Scott Skiles, Steve Smith, Mateeb Cleaves, MoPete, Miles Bridges, and countless others are who have represented the Spartan program with the same type of class, toughness, pride, and skill.

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