If you’re a Warriors fan who also happens to be a Bay Area college basketball fan, you might be a little conflicted about this NBA Finals match-up.
But if you’re also friends or family of Jaylen Brown, Malik Fitts, Ime Udoka or Aaron Miles… .
Brown, the Celtics’ second-leading scorer at 23.6 points per game, played at Cal for one season in 2015-16 and was the only freshman named to the 10-player all-conference team for the Pac-12.
Brown was a 5-star recruit out of greater Atlanta, ranked third in the class headed by Ben Simmons. The signing was a big score for Cal coach Cuonzo Martin. With Brown and Ivan Rabb joining a team that included another future NBA player (Jabari Bird) and had its top two scorers returning, Cal opened the season ranked 14th in the nation.
The Bears went 23-11, a disappointing season that ended with an upset loss to 13th-seeded Hawaii in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Brown declared for the NBA draft and was chosen by the Celtics with the No. 3 pick, behind Simmons and Brandon Ingram.
Only 25 and in his sixth NBA season, Brown made the All Star team for the first time — just like Andrew Wiggins. Those two are likely to see some time against each other in this series.
Brown scored 40 points in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against Miami (a game the Celtics lost in Boston).
Fun fact: One of Brown’s teammates at Cal was NIck Kerr, son of the Warriors coach.
Malik Fitts is an end-of-bench guy for the Celtics, with whom he signed a 10-day contract in February. Fitts played two seasons at Saint Mary’s, the best supporting actor in the Jordan Ford Show. In 2019, he was all-WCC on a Gaels team that went 26-8 and would have reached the NCAA tournament if one had been played amid the pandemic.
Fitts declared for the NBA draft after that season, forgoing his final year of eligibility. It did not go as hoped; he went undrafted. Fitts got a brief look from the LA Clippers, making his NBA debut late in the 2020-21 season after signing a 10-day contract. He has played 24 NBA games in all, the last six in this playoff run. He appeared three times in the Eastern Conference finals against Miami, logging less than four minutes total, but etching his name his in history with his first postseason basket in Game 1 of the conference semifinals against Milwaukee.
Fun fact: Born on the Fourth of July (1997).
Ime Udoka, the Celtics’ first-year coach, spent one season as a player for the University of San Francisco Dons. A 6-foot-6 forward, he was a member of the 1997-98 team, the last to make the NCAA tournament until the Dons ended the drought last March at 25 years. A junior transfer from Utah Stave University Eastern, Udoku was a deep reserve for USF coach Phil Mathews, appearing in 21 games and scoring 34 points.
After the season, he transferred to Portland State, where he became a leading man, starting 24 games and averaging 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Vikings.
Undrafted and unsigned by an NBA team, Udoka kicked around the NBDL for two years and starred for the Nigerian national team. His NBA debut his came with the 2004 Lakers, a Kobe-Shaq team coached by Phil Jackson. It was a brief stay for Udoka.
He went overseas, came back for a cup of coffee with Knicks, then had a breakthrough with his hometown team, starting 75 games for the Portland Trail Blazers. He ended up playing 316 NBA games for the Blazers, the Spurs and the Sacramento Kings. His time with Spurs led to a spot on Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff in 2012. After eight seasons with Popovich, and two more on staffs in Philly and Brooklyn, Udoka, 44, was hired last spring to succeed Brad Stevens as coach of the Celtics.
Fun fact: Udoka already has an NBA championship ring, won in 2014 as a Spurs assistant.
Aaron Milesa Celtics assistant coach, has no connection to Bay Area college basketball unless you count the three times his Kansas teams played Cal or Stanford.
Miles’ connection is with the Warriors, and it’s pretty tight. He played for the Warriors, 19 games in 2005-06, the team with Baron Davis at point guard, Mike Montgomery at coach, and Chris Mullin as GM. The next season was “We Believe,” but Miles was long gone by then.
Miles, 39, reconnected with the Warriors in 2017 as coach of their G-League team in Santa Cruz. That team included Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson’s brother, Mychel.
In 2019, Miles was called up to the big club, named director of player development for the Warriors.
Fun fact: It was Miles who opened the door to Udoka’s NBA playing career; when he failed a training camp physical, the Trail Blazers invited Udoka.