Kuzma Latest Runnin' Ute to Become NBA Champion
ORLANDO – With a dominating the 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, former Runnin' Ute Kyle Kuzma became just the fourth player to go on to win an NBA Championship.
"Man…just a kid from Flint, Mich. It's crazy. Crazy, crazy you know. I almost didn't go to college. I wasn't supposed to get drafted, you know. NBA Championship. … It's unbelievable," the third year NBA veteran said in his postgame presser.
The small group of Utes to win NBA Championships include former All-Americans Arnie Ferrin (1945-48), Michael Doleac (1995-98) and Andrew Bogut (2004-05). Ferrin won the 1950 title with the former Minneapolis Lakers while Doleac won with the Miami Heat in 2006 and Bogut winning the most recent title in 2015 with the Golden State Warriors.
The win helped the Los Angeles Lakers claim its 17th NBA Championship and tie the Boston Celtics for most NBA titles in franchise history. It was also the first championships since the late Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles past the Boston Celtics in an exciting seven-game series in 2010.
— kuz (@kylekuzma) October 12, 2020
After the NBA restarted play in the bubble at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, the 6-8 forward averaged 15.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in seven games to give the Lakers the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. He also saw action in all 21 playoff games while averaging 10 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists.
The 2019-20 season, which nearly started a whole year ago, saw Kuzma predominantly come off the bench for a Laker team stacked at the forward position with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. He finished the regular-season averaging 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
Kuzma, who spent three season with the Runnin' Utes, became the 12th player in program history selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 2017 as the 27th overall pick. He was also Utah's third-straight first-round pick in three years, joining Delon Wright (2015) and Jakob Poeltl (2016).
While with the Utes, Kuzma averaged 10.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists and helped Utah reach postseason play every year – including back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths and a Sweet 16 appearance. He saw action in 96 games during his time at The U and started in 64 of those contests.