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2020 NBA Finals Has a Serious Kentucky Connection
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The University of Kentucky reunion is ditching Lexington for Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Alumni of all ages will be attendance, united by the Bluegrass State and separated in pursuit of an NBA title.

The 2020 NBA Finals features four players and two team-personnel members who wore the Kentucky blue.

No matter who emerges victorious from the matchup, whether that be the Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat, three Kentucky Wildcats will be NBA champions.

Kentucky in the NBA Finals

RELATED: Anthony Davis’ Kentucky Career Might Never Be Duplicated

On the Lakers side, forward Anthony Davis, point guard Rajon Rondo, and head coach Frank Vogel attended UK.

Davis cemented himself as the best college basketball player in the country during the 2011-12 season. He led the Wildcats to the program’s most recent national championship in 2012.

Rondo, a Louisville native, played for the Wildcats from 2004-06 under Tubby Smith, setting records for most steals in a season and most rebounds in a game by a guard with 19 in a loss to Iowa as a sophomore.

Vogel served as the student manager under Rick Pitino for the 1994-95 season. He later played for the resurrected JV team and graduated in 1998.

For Miami, standouts Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, as well as Heat president Pat Riley, are former Wildcats.

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Adebayo was a double-double and dunk machine, culminating in a 2017 Elite Eight appearance.

Herro’s clutch gene showed its first signs in Lexington. He was the only player to start every game during the 2018-19 season, which ended in a loss to Auburn in the 2019 Elite Eight.

Riley was a stud for coaching legend Adolph Rupp, earning First Team All-SEC, NCAA Regional Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, and Third-Team All-American honors as a junior.

Davis, Adebayo, and Herro played for current Kentucky coach John Calipari. Cal prides himself on readying his players for the NBA, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

”When I look at all these guys and how they’re playing, I’m not surprised that guys would be able to stand up to this,” Calipari said. ”The environment here, everything about it is preparing them for the NBA. It’s an NBA environment, how we practice, the competitiveness in practice, the games. Every shot matters here. … These kids, it’s kind of like their rookie year is here.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra recognizes how prepared Wildcats are upon entering the league. It doesn’t hurt that Riley loves products from his alma mater:

”We love Kentucky players because you’re there to get better, to be pushed, to understand what it means to play for a team, play a role and to train to become a pro at this level,” Spoelstra said. ”You’re going to face good competition in practice. You’re going to be expected to work. It’s an environment that, as much as it possibly can, prepares you for the pros, even though it’s at the collegiate level.”

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Denver Nuggets guard and former UK player Jamal Murray stamped his name on the NBA playoffs in spectacular fashion. While the Nuggets fell to LA in the NBA’s Western Conference Final in the Walt Disney World bubble, Murray provided some of the postseason’s signature moments, including a 3-1 series comeback over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals.

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Murray is currently the Playoffs’ leading scorer with 504 points, although Davis could catch him by the end of the Finals. Boston Celtics forward and Duke one-and-doner Jayson Tatum is third.

UK joins La Salle (1956), UCLA (1980), North Carolina (1991), and Arizona (2017), as schools with four former players in an NBA Finals.

Cal’s vision for Kentucky basketball has come to fruition. He churns out NBA players on a consistent basis, and this year, the first player to suit up for him at UK will bring home an NBA championship.

MORE: Tyler Herro Asked His Model Girlfriend Out On Social Media

Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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