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Elijah Bryant Joins Rare Group Of BYU Alums To Reach NBA Conference Finals

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 16: Devon Dotson #3 of the Chicago Bulls moves against Elijah Bryant #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center on May 16, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Bucks 118-112. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – Elijah Bryant is the latest BYU basketball alum to reach the NBA’s Conference Finals round. Bryant and the Milwaukee Bucks are gearing up to take on the Atlanta Hawks for a chance to advance to the NBA Finals.

Bryant is the first former BYU hooper since 2007 to reach the Conference Finals round of the NBA Playoffs. It was the second-longest stretch all-time without a BYU player reaching the Conference Finals. The previous long was 26 years from 1956-1982.

Bryant is now the eighth BYU basketball player in program history to reach the Conference Finals.

Since the start of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Bryant has appeared in seven games for the Milwaukee Bucks.

History of BYU Basketball players in NBA Conference Finals

Let’s take a look back at the BYU alums that Elijah Bryant joins, who has made it to the final four of the NBA Playoffs over the years.

Danny Ainge

Conference Finals appearances: 9

Everyone remembers Danny Ainge’s time with the Boston Celtics, and for a good reason, those Celtics squads were legendary in NBA history. But Ainge, considered by many to be the greatest BYU basketball player of all time, made it to the Conference Finals with three different franchises.

Ainge and the Celtics reached the Conference Finals a total of six times together. After being traded away from Boston to Sacramento, Ainge was part of playoff runs with Portland and Phoenix from 1991-1993. In 1992, Ainge and the Trail Blazers defeated the Jazz in six games to advance to the NBA Finals.

Greg Kite

Conference Finals appearances: 5

Kite was teammates with Ainge at BYU, then in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. From 1984-1987, Kite appeared in 12 Conference Finals games with the Boston Celtics.

Fred Roberts

Conference Finals appearances: 2

During his 14-year career in the NBA, Roberts appeared in the Conference Finals twice. There’s a theme here with former BYU players and their Conference Finals appearances; Roberts like Ainge and Kite was always with the Boston Celtics.

Roberts was part of the Celtics runs in 1987 and 1988, appearing in 12 conference finals games.

Mel Hutchins

Conference Finals appearances: 2

A BYU Basketball legend, Hutchins reached the Conference Finals in the mid-1950s with the Fort Wayne Pistons. Hutchins and the Pistons defeated the Minneapolis Lakers 3-1 in 1955, the St. Louis Hawks in five games in 1956.

Fort Wayne came up short in the Finals to Syracuse Nationals and then the Philadelphia Warriors led by NBA Hall of Famer Paul Arizin.

Shawn Bradley

Conference Finals appearances: 1

During Bradley’s 12-year NBA career, he reached the NBA Playoffs five seasons. One of those appearances led to the Conference Finals in 2003 with the Dallas Mavericks. Bradley and the Mavs were ousted in six games to the San Antonio Spurs dynasty. Bradley played the first three games of the series but had to miss the next three due to knee injuries. The entire Mavs frontcourt, including Dirk Nowitzki, was facing injuries during that series.

Rafael Araujo

Conference Finals appearances: 1

Before Eliah Bryant and the Bucks reached the Eastern Conference Finals, Araujo was the last former BYU basketball player to make it to the Conference Finals. Araujo was on the Utah Jazz roster that made a surprise run to the Conference Finals in 2007.

Araujo appeared in three games against the Spurs, who went on to win the series in five games.

Andy Toolson

Conference Finals appearances: 1

Toolson was on the Utah Jazz roster during the 1992 Playoffs that saw the Jazz face Danny Ainge and Portland in the Conference Finals. The Jazz lost in six games. Toolson didn’t appear in any of the games during the series and was later released after the season.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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