MSU senior guard and 1995 Big Ten player of the year Shawn Respert scored 31 points in his final home basketball game. But what happened next, created a tradition that still stands over 20 years later.
“It’s a part of history now and what I feel my greatest contribution was,” Respert said in a Hall of History exhibit. “I’m just glad we found something we can call ours and that it’s a part of Spartan tradition now.”
When Respert was subbed out of the game for the final time, he got on his hands and knees and kissed center-court. Touching his lips on a dirty gym floor may have looked strange at the time, but it was his way of showing appreciation to the program.
Fast forward to 2018, where the No. 2-ranked Spartans celebrated senior night on Tuesday with a 81-61 win over Illinois. Gavin Schilling, Ben Carter and Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn kissed the Spartan helmet 23 years after Respert kissed the old block “S.”
“It’s a Michigan State tradition,” Schilling said. “A lot of emotions were running through my mind. That’s one thing that a lot of seniors have done in the past is kissing the Spartan head and for me to be able to do that, it means a lot.”
Nairn and Schilling are the only players left from the 2015 Final Four team, and watched seniors Travis Trice and Branden Dawson kiss the floor after a senior day win they would need to help secure an NCAA Tournament bid.
Ben Carter arrived at Michigan State last year as a graduate transfer, but injured his knee and missed the entire 2016-17 season. He was granted a 6th year of eligibility, and played in 21 games this year.