The NBA Finals tip off tonight with the Miami Heat facing the Oklahoma City Thunder in what looks to be one of the best Finals in recent memory. It's a star studded lineup on both sides and much to the delight of Jayhawk fans, Kansas will have at least one alumni earning a ring when all is said and done.
Of course the added interest in the NBA seems to bring up the ever present question of Bill Self and the potential allure of the NBA. During the Western Conference Finals their seemed to be a pretty strong belief among some that it was in the best interest of Kansas for the Thunder to win. Perhaps the thought being that if the Thunder had fallen short, a new coaching position might open in Self's home State.
On the other hand the losing team in that Conference battle also looks like a potential suitor should Self decide at some point that he craves the challenge of coaching at the highest level. Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs are on the tail end of a great run that has included four NBA titles, but the team is comprised of an aging group and Popovich himself is now 63. No doubt there are coaches extending their careers several years beyond that, but does Popovich have the desire to continue as he team inevitably starts to turnover?
If not then the Spurs and GM R.C. Buford could take a shot at Kansas coach Bill Self. Buford and Self have connections dating back to the mid eighties and time spent at both Oklahoma State and Kansas. The two are connected through Larry Brown and that friendship has extended over the years. Buford's son played for Self at Kansas and Self has made no secret of the fact that he has a great deal of respect for Buford and the Spurs organization.
So the question is, will Bill Self want to make a move to the NBA at some point in his career? History hasn't been kind to college coaches making the jump and some of the college legends have spurned the temptation and strengthened their legacy at their existing institutions. Still others make that leap and return to college to coach another day.
Self has always seemed very cognisant of his place and legacy at Kansas and in the sport of college basketball so that would seem to bode well for the Jayhawks. However he's also been willing to embrace a challenge every step of the way.
The theories on what could transpire seem to be vast and numerous. There are style and system tendencies that would seem to make him an ideal candidate for the NBA and then there are those things that he seems to relish about the college game that he won't find at the pro level. Right now Self appears poised to add two straight recruiting classes that will put Kansas on solid ground for the foreseeable future. That means this might not be a decision that he'll have to make in the next three, four or even five years, but Self has a lot of career left in him and at times it seems very likely that he'll have to make the decision at one point or another.