A European player will win the NBA Championship this year but if it’s the Warriors who lift Larry O’Brien it will come in odd circumstances
In a shock to roughly no-one, this site’s focus through the NBA Finals has been on Timofey Mozgov and David Blatt. Mozgov is Russian, Blatt’s history in Europe is well-documented. A European will however get a NBA championship ring if the Warriors win and it will come in somewhat unlikely circumstances.
In soccer winning a championship typically requires a certain number of appearances. Baseball has a similar rule with some space for discretion. In basketball the rules tend to be a touch more lax. Teams have brought range as to who gets a ring and typically if you suited up and aren’t despised by the franchise, you get one.
That’s the position Ognjen Kuzmic finds himself in. Kuzmic played all of 16 games for the Dubs this year, logging 4.5 minutes per game, but now the Serbian is just one win away from getting a second ring of the season. The Warriors are 3-2 up and Kuzmic won’t see a second in this post-season. He’s a member of the team but he’s not going to feature even clapping on the bench…although a 7 foot 1 inch clapper would make for an excellent bench prop.
It will be Kuzmic’s second ring of the season because the team he logged most of his time with this year already won a championship. Kuzmic spent most of the season doing work for the Santa Cruz Warriors and was named third-team all-defence for the NBA D-League. Admittedly standing out on D in the D-League isn’t exactly hard. The rough standard is ‘that dude actually plays some D? Wow’ is enough to get noticed. Nonetheless, the Serbian big man played a key role as Santa Cruz won the D-League championship this season. Like Kuzmic, James Michael McAdoo could also win his second ring of the year if Golden State closes this out.
The basic idea of Kuzmic winning a ring isn’t all that bizarre. He’s a useful European big who developed at some great places en route to the NBA like Joventut Badalona, where he had a loan spell while on the books of Unicaja Malaga. It’s the circumstances that leap out as curious. Here’s a player who was fundamental to one team winning a championship this season and now he’s favoured to win another without playing a relevant minute on court. It’s also got to be rare for any player, and this goes for McAdoo too, to win both the D-League and NBA Championship in the same season. If the Dubs get it done and the confetti falls, try to spot the giant in civilian clothes.