Kuzma Can Become Fourth Utes Product To Win NBA Title
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Kyle Kuzma has a chance to become just the fourth University of Utah Utes product to win an NBA title. Kuzma and the Los Angeles Lakers kick off the NBA Finals tonight against the Miami Heat, finishing off the coronavirus plagued season in Orlando.
The forward was drafted by the Lakers with the 27th overall pick in 2017 after three productive seasons in Utah. The Lakers reserve wing is one of three current Utes in the NBA, along with former teammates Delon Wright of the Dallas Mavericks and Jakob Poeltl of the San Antonio Spurs.
Kuzma can become the first Ute since Andrew Bogut to win an NBA title if the Lakers are to prevail. Bogut, the former number one overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005, won an NBA title with the Golden State Warriors in 2015. The Australian center started in 18 of the 19 games he appeared in the postseason with the Warriors during their championship run, but failed to appear in either game five or six after injuring his knee as Golden State clinched the title.
Before Bogut, former University of Utah big man Michael Doleac won a title with the Heat in 2006. Doleac appeared in just one game for the Heat during the 06 Finals, recording zero stats in just over one minute during game four of the Heat six-game title.
Doleac’s title with the Heat ended a 56-year gap between NBA titles for Utes fans. Former Ute Arnie Ferrin won two titles with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1949 and 1950. Ferrin’s first title was during the final season of the Basketball Association of America. The Lakers proceeded to win the first true NBA title after the BAA and the National Basketball League formed in 1950.
BYU Cougars Who Have Won NBA Titles
Kite played 12 total seasons in the NBA, winning a title in Boston during his first and third seasons in the NBA. Kite played in four games of the 1984 Finals scoring two total points. In 1986, Kite appeared in all six Finals games scoring a total of six points.
Ainge played seasons in the NBA and averaged seven points during the 1984 Finals, appearing in all six games against the Lakers. The former Cougar was critical for the Celtics in the 1986 Finals playing 35 minutes per game and averaging 14.5 points and 5.5 assists in Boston’s six-game championship over the Houston Rockets.
Ainge and Kite are the only Cougars to win an NBA title. Prior to 1984, former BYU big man Jim Eakins won ABA titles in 1969 and 1976 with the Oakland Oaks and the New York Nets. Dick Nemelka won an ABA title in 1971 with the Stars in 1971.
Both Weber State and Utah State have had just one player win a professional title playing basketball. Former Wildcat Willie Sojourner won a title with the Nets in 1974. Meanwhile, Former Aggies forward Marv Roberts won the 1975 ABA title with the Kentucky Colonels.
Heat forward Jae Crowder is the only former Jazzman playing for either team. His father Corey Crowder played for the Jazz in 1991-92.