Pac-12 leading way in 2016 NBA Finals
The 2016 NBA Finals started on Thursday and between the players on the court, the coaches on the sidelines and the leadership that constructed the Warriors and Cavaliers, the Pac-12 Conference will be the best represented of all collegiate conferences.
After opening the 2015-16 NBA season with the second-most active players (62, trailing only the ACC's 74), the Pac-12 will have the most former players competing in the championship series with seven (ACC - 6, SEC - 5), its most in the Finals since 2008.
In total, 14 key participants - players, coaches and GMs - in these NBA Finals will have ties to Pac-12 schools, including a whopping seven from ARIZONA. That Pac-12 total is nearly double the next closest leagues (ACC - 8, SEC - 8).
The Pac-12 is getting plenty of love in the NBA Finals! @shaepeppler has more.
— Campus Insiders (@CampusInsiders) June 3, 2016
Golden State claimed the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2015 - the franchise's first in 40 years - utilizing a Pac-12 nucleus that featured Andrew Bogut (UTAH), Andre Iguodala (ARIZONA) and Klay Thompson (WASHINGTON STATE) on the floor, Steve Kerr (ARIZONA), Luke Walton (ARIZONA), Jarron Collins (STANFORD) and Bruce Fraser (ARIZONA) on the bench and Bob Myers (UCLA) in the front office.
Those seven, along with the Warriors' latest first round draft pick Kevon Looney (UCLA), led Golden State to an NBA-record 73 victories during the 2015-16 regular season and now have an opportunity to supplement their professional legacies with the most successful season in NBA history.
The Pac-12 links to the Warriors extend even further - from the airwaves as OREGON alumnus Jim Barnett and Kerr's ARIZONA teammate Tom Tolbert are analysts for the Warriors' radio broadcast team, to the team leadership as Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob earned post-graduate degrees from both UCLA and STANFORD and president and COO Rick Welts earned his undergraduate degree at WASHINGTON.
Cleveland will have on-court Pac-12 representation in this year's Finals as former UCLA All-American and 2008 Conference Player of the Year Kevin Love will be in action after missing the entire 2015 series due to injury, and the Cavaliers have added ARIZONA alums Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson for another chance at the title. The lone Pac-12 holdovers from Cleveland's 2015 Finals run are assistant coach and former ARIZONA forward Bret Brielmaier, and GM and ARIZONA STATE graduate David Griffin.
So whether you're siding with the Warriors or Cavaliers, you have plenty of opportunity to #BackThePac during this year's NBA Finals.
PAC-12 REPRESENTATION IN 2016 NBA FINALS
PLAYERS - 7
Andrew Bogut, UTAH - GSW
Channing Frye, ARIZONA - CLE
Andre Iguodala, ARIZONA - GSW
Richard Jefferson, ARIZONA - CLE
Kevon Looney, UCLA - GSW
Kevin Love, UCLA - CLE
Klay Thompson, WASHINGTON STATE - GSW
COACHES - 5
Bret Brielmaier, ARIZONA - CLE
Jarron Collins, STANFORD - GSW
Bruce Fraser, ARIZONA - GSW
Steve Kerr, ARIZONA - GSW
Luke Walton, ARIZONA - GSW
GENERAL MANAGERS - 2
Bob Myers, UCLA - GSW
David Griffin, ARIZONA STATE - CLE