Whether Golden State finishes off Cleveland, or the Cavs make history, one place is guaranteed to be a champion.
Andre Iguodala knows heart ache. Long before Golden State’s 3-1 collapse last year, the Finals MVP was part of the most talented teams to ever come out of the University of Arizona. The 2002-03 Wildcats featured 6 players who would go on to play in the NBA. They were the overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA title that year. Yet, that team’s season would end in disappointment in the regional finals against a Nick Collison/Kirk Hinrich led Kansas team.
Channing Frye, has felt the shock of unexpected loss as well. In 2005, Frye was the main piece in a Wildcat team that enjoyed a 15-point lead with under four minutes to go. Arizona would lose and be the unwilling partner in one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA tournament history.
While both failed in bringing an NCAA title back to Tucson, each has continued the trend of Wildcats hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy which recognizes the NBA champion. They are the latest in a string of titles that started back in 1996. Since Steve Kerr and Jud Buecheler were part of those late-90s Bulls teams, Arizona alums have been champions at the highest level almost 50% of the time.
This year will be no different. Golden State’s Head Coach, Kerr and assistant Bruce Fraser both played in Tucson in the 80s. Iguodala later in the early ’00s. On the other side of the court, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson and Derrick Williams all played for the ‘Cats. In other words, titles in Tucson will continue.
If current Arizona Head Coach, Sean Miller is able to live up to the lofty expectations set for the current 2017-18 Wildcats, a Larry O’Brien trophy might not be the only hardware displayed in Tucson.