The Golden State Warriors won their first NBA championship in four decades in June, a victory distinctly influenced by Arizona basketball.
With head coach Steve Kerr ’87 and assistant coaches Luke Walton ’02 and Bruce Fraser ’88 orchestrating things from the bench, Andre Iguodala proved to be one of the series’ pivotal players with his defensive effort on Cavaliers forward LeBron James and his clutch baskets on the offensive end of the floor.
Iguodala was named the winner of the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award after averaging better than 14 points, five rebounds, and three assists per game against Cleveland, helping Kerr, Walton, and Fraser lead the franchise to its fourth world championship and third NBA title. Golden State won the Basketball Association of America (the forerunner to the NBA) championship in 1947 and hoisted NBA championship banners in 1956 and 1975.
Iguodala is the first Arizona basketball alumnus to earn NBA Finals MVP honors, and the first player ever to be named MVP of the NBA Finals after not starting every game of the series.
With Iguodala earning his first ring, Arizona players have now won 14 NBA championships as players since 1996, when Kerr and Jud Buechler were members of the championship-winning Chicago Bulls.
For Kerr, this year’s victory represented his sixth total NBA title, adding to the five he won as a player. He is the first rookie head coach to win the league crown since Pat Riley in 1982.
“They were all in it, just to win. This is an amazing group of guys,” Kerr said after the game on ABC while mentioning the impact he felt from legendary former UA coach Lute Olson. “I was blessed with an unbelievable group of guys in my first year. I can’t believe how lucky I am.”
Walton’s ring is his third, as he won back-to-back championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010, while the championship is the first for Fraser.
|NBA championships won by Arizona alumni as players since 1996|