Arizona Basketball

Former Arizona Wildcats again featured prominently in NBA Finals


For the third straight year Golden State will face Cleveland in the NBA Finals and that means the Arizona Wildcats’ program will again be a big part of the show.

Six former players in the program will be affiliated with the NBA Finals after seven were involved last year and four in 2015.

The six this season include Golden State head coach Steve Kerr and assistant Bruce Fraser and forward Andre Iguodala, and Cleveland forwards Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Derrick Williams.

Kerr’s health status is uncertain for him to coach in the Finals, which start next Thursday. He has not coached for most of the first three rounds in the Warriors’ series against Portland, Utah and San Antonio.

Luke Walton was involved last season as a Warriors assistant. He is now the head coach of the Lakers building his staff with a certain Arizona flavor there.

Bret Brielmaier was a Cavaliers assistant last year and 2015 but he switched to being an assistant with the Brooklyn Nets this season.

Williams, who is celebrating his 26th birthday today, is in the NBA Finals for first time in his six seasons in the NBA. He was given the opportunity by Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue to be the first Cavalier to hold the Eastern Conference championship trophy in the air after his team eliminated Boston in Game 5 on Thursday.

The Wildcats’ program is assured at least three more NBA championship rings this season after 20 have already been accumulated by 11 former players.

Interesting to note that five of the six players involved in the Finals are from the Lute Olson era. Williams was recruited to Arizona and coached by Sean Miller.

Kerr, Fraser, Jefferson, Iguodala and Frye completed their Arizona careers by the time Olson coached his last game 10 seasons ago with the Wildcats.

Another tidbit: Frye is a Cleveland teammate of Deron Williams, who helped fuel the heartbreaking 15-point comeback by Illinois against Frye and Arizona in the 2005 Elite Eight game that resulted in an overtime loss.

NBA Finals Appearances
1996 Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler (Chicago)
1997 Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler, Brian Williams (Chicago)
1998 Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler (Chicago)
1999 Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott (San Antonio)
2002 Richard Jefferson (New Jersey)
2003 Steve Kerr (San Antonion)
Richard Jefferson (New Jersey)
2004 Luke Walton (LA Lakers)
2006 Jason Terry (Dallas)
2008 Luke Walton (LA Lakers)
2009 Luke Walton (LA Lakers)
2010 Luke Walton (LA Lakers)
2011 Jason Terry (Dallas)
Mike Bibby (Miami)
2013 Brett Brielmaier* (San Antonio)
2015 Andre Iguodala, Steve Kerr*, Luke Walton*, Bruce Fraser* (Golden State)
Brett Brielmaier* (Cleveland)
2016 Andre Iguodala, Steve Kerr*, Luke Walton*, Bruce Fraser* (Golden State)
Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Brett Brielmaier* (Cleveland)
2017 Andre Iguodala, Steve Kerr*, Bruce Fraser* (Golden State)
Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Derrick Williams (Cleveland)
*Indicates member of coaching staff

NBA Championships
1996 Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler (Chicago)
1997 Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler, Brian Williams (Chicago)
1998 Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler (Chicago)
1999 Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott (San Antonio)
2003 Steve Kerr (San Antonio)
2009 Luke Walton (LA Lakers)
2010 Luke Walton (LA Lakers)
2011 Jason Terry (Dallas)
2015 Andre Iguodala, Steve Kerr*, Luke Walton*, Bruce Fraser* (Golden State)
2016 Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Brett Brielmaier* (Cleveland)
*Indicates member of coaching staff

NBA Finals MVP
2015 Andre Iguodala (Golden State)


FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

print

To Top