NBA All-Stars Finley, Harris jump into UW's practice

Finley_Harris_Ryan2b.jpgThere just might be a silver lining to the NBA lockout.

With the NBA season on hold while players and owners negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, unexpected free time has become available for league employees and players. Some players have participated in Pro Am or exhibition games, others (like Jon Leuer) have chosen to play in Europe.

In the case of former Badgers Devin Harris and Michael Finley, they have used the NBA lockout to re-connect with their alma mater. Harris is taking classes this semester to get closer to obtaining his UW degree. Finley has established an endowed scholarship at Wisconsin.

With both NBA All-Stars on campus last weekend, Bo Ryan invited them to stop by the Kohl Center and practice with the team.

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Finley, Harris practice with the Badgers:  VIDEO  |  PHOTOS
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"It was fun to play against these young guys at Wisconsin," Finley said. "Coach Ryan opened the doors for me, not only here at the University, but as his house as well. So I'm going to keep him to that when I need a place to stay out here."

"It was good to get back and see the coaches and see the players," Harris added. "It's good to actually get some running and some practice in with the fellow Badgers."

Dressed in team-issued practice gear, Finley and Harris went through practice just like every other member of the team, participating in passing drills, situational work and 5-on-5 full court games.

Treated like every member of the team, Finley and Harris were not exempt from doing sit-ups with the team after a missed a free throw at the end of practice.

All eyes were trained on the entertaining match-up of UW's past All-American, Harris, against this year's version, Jordan Taylor. Another noteworthy head-to-head battle featured the 38-year old Finley facing 18-year old Traevon Jackson. Finley was teammates with Jackson's father, Jimmy, on the Dallas Mavericks.

"I played with Jimmy. For as much as Jimmy took at me in practice, I'm taking it at Trae as much as I can," Finley joked.

Harris, who was traded to the Utah Jazz in the middle of last season, said he's anxious to get back to Utah and start up the season. Finley, who most recently spent time with the Boston Celtics during the 2009-10 season, said he still has an interest in playing and if a team calls, he'll be ready.

For now though, both Finley and Harris are enjoying their productive down time and being back in the Cardinal and White.

"This University will always have a special place in my heart, and it helped me become what I am today," Finley said. "I like this year's team, too. I've watched them throughout the last couple years and it's fun to get out here and compete. It's good to be home."


ON WISCONSIN