The historical significance of a Mountaineer in the NBA Finals

WVU Basketball

It’s been 45 years since a former WVU player reached the championship series, but that drought ends tonight when the Suns take on the Bucks

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The NBA Finals begin tonight, and former Mountaineer Jevon Carter is in line to make more history. 

Carter, who is in his second season with the Phoenix Suns, is just the fifth WVU men’s basketball alumnus to play for a team that reached the NBA’s championship series. WVU hall of famer Jerome Anderson was the last former Mountaineer to reach the Finals, doing so in 1976 with the Boston Celtics.

Fellow WVU hall of famer and basketball analyst Warren Baker thinks Carter’s success with the Suns is great exposure for head coach Bob Huggins’ program. 

“I think that it will help West Virginia from the standpoint of being able to get guys and have them come in and say, ‘listen, Bob Huggins knows that he’s doing,’” Baker said. “Jevon — I hope that they do win the championship, and it gives him a few more years to really get his game to the next level where he can really be on the floor on a consistent basis.” 

Rod Hundley, Jerry West and and Fritz Williams are the three other Mountaineers to reach the NBA Finals. Hundley and West appeared alongside each other for the Lakers in a pair of Finals losses to the Celtics in 1962 and 1963. Hundley was 0-3 all-time in NBA championship series, while West was 1-8, winning a title in 1972 when the Lakers defeated the Knicks in five games. The Logo averaged nearly 20 points per game in that series. 

Williams reached the NBA Finals two years later in 1974, but his Bucks lost to the Celtics in seven games. He appeared in six of the seven games and logged 3.0 points per game. 

Anderson became the second former Mountaineer to win a ring in 1976, when the Celtics took down the Suns in six games. Anderson appeared in just one contest in the championship series, registering two points. 

Carter has played a minimal role in the Suns’ run to the Finals, appearing in seven of the team’s 16 playoff games. He logged minutes in two Western Conference Finals games against the Clippers, scoring two points in the decisive sixth game. 

The Suns will take on the Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals, which begins tonight at 9 p.m. ET in Phoenix. 

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