Butler: "We Knew Our Game With Florida Was The Championship"

Lamar Butler reflects on George Mason's magical run to the Final Four in 2006

The DA Show
March 20, 2020 - 10:34 am

In 2006, George Mason reached the Final Four. It was one of the greatest runs in NCAA Tournament history.

For Lamar Butler and his teammates, however, there remains a sense of wonder about what could have been.

“Honestly, we came up one game short,” Butler said on The DA Show. “It still haunts us to this day because we knew our game with Florida was pretty much the championship.”

George Mason, seeded 11th, knocked off a series of blue-bloods en route to the Final Four. The Patriots beat Michigan State 75-65, North Carolina, 65-60, Wichita State 63-55, and Connecticut 86-84 in an overtime thriller.

Against Florida, however, George Mason’s magical run ended. The Gators, led by Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green, beat George Mason 73-58 and UCLA 73-57.

“When you’re at the arena, you get to see teams and matchups,” Butler said. “We knew once we lost that game, ‘Man, we could have beat UCLA in that championship.’ That kind of still haunts me as a competitor.”

It was the first of back-to-back national titles for the Gators. It was a tough pill to swallow for George Mason, which last won an NCAA Tournament game in 2011.

Still, Butler, Jai Lewis, Tony Skinn, Will Thomas, Folarin Campbell and the rest of the Patriots remain close.

“On the positive side, just having the memories with my teammates, we’re still in a group chat,” Butler said. “Just knowing that we did something that will be talked about forever and having a legacy at Mason and just putting that school on the map and that conference on the map is something that we can feel proud of and stand on."