Former Jayhawks Guaranteed a Spot in 2012 NBA Finals
June 7, 2012
With the Oklahoma City Thunder winning the Western Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs, Kansas will have at least one former player on the 2012 NBA title team.
Former Jayhawks on the Thunder include Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich. Collison was a Consensus All-America First Team selection at KU from 2000-03, while Aldrich was a Consensus All-America Second Team choice in 2010 and the 2010 CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year.
On the other side of the 2012 NBA bracket, former Jayhawks Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics and Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat, square off Thursday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Pierce, a 1998 Consensus All-America First Team selection in who played at KU from 1996-98, was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MOP) in 2008. Chalmers is in his fourth season with the Heat and was the 2008 NCAA Final Four MOP in KU’s most recent NCAA National Championship season. He was at Kansas from 2006-08.
Chalmers and Aldrich are looking to join Clyde Lovellette as the only Jayhawk players to have won an NCAA National Championship and an NBA title. Lovellette, who will be inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in November 2012, was the MOP of the 1952 NCAA Tournament in which Kansas won in Seattle. He later won three NBA titles with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1954 and the Boston Celtics in 1963 and 1964. Chalmers and Aldrich were members of Kansas’ 2008 NCAA National Championship team won in San Antonio.
Though no players, Kansas was also well represented on the San Antonio Spurs, the Western Conference runners-up. Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford was a KU assistant coach from 1984-88. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich spent the 1985-86 season as a volunteer assistant coach at KU. Also on staff at that time was graduate assistant and current Jayhawk head coach Bill Self. Former KU All-America First Team selection and the 1997 Academic All-American of the Year Jacque Vaughn is an assistant coach with the Spurs.
Additionally, on the Boston staff is former KU great JoJo White, who is the Director of Special Projects for the Celtics. White was an All-America First Team selection at KU in 1968 and 1969 and won two NBA titles as a member of the Celtics in 1974 and 1976.
KU NBA Champions
Kansas NBA Finals Most Valuable Players