The 2021 NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns begins on Tuesday in Phoenix, and much of the basketball world has a reason to tune in.
Will Giannis Antetokounmpo play in game one or even during the series? Will Chris Paul and Devin Booker lead the unlikely Suns to their first title in franchise history? Can the Bucks capitalize on their deep playoff run and win their first championship in 50 seasons?
There’s a reason for everyone. What’s the reason for Blazers fans?
Well, there are Blazer ties within the finals on both sides.
Suns head coach Monty Williams began his coaching career as an assistant in Portland and spent five seasons with the team before his first head coaching gig with the Pelicans. There he was the lead man next to Chris Paul, and almost a decade later since the two shared a court together, now they are both four wins away from their first championship.
Williams was with the Blazers under Nate McMillan when the team had Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Greg Oden. At that time it seemed like the Blazers were a budding title-contending team, but injuries played a role in derailing what could’ve been a fruitful run for the organization.
Between both teams, the Bucks have the sole ex-Blazer on their roster, that being Pat Connaughton.
Connaughton spent the first three seasons of his career with the Blazers and is currently a rotational player with the Bucks. He’s appeared in all 17 of their playoff games and even started one.
The other Blazer connection on the Bucks lies near head coach Mike Budenholzer. That being assistant coach, Ben Sullivan.
Sullivan went to Lake Oswego and graduated from the University of Portland. It’s a tough choice for Blazers fans to have a rooting interest when their team isn’t directly involved. But the choice lies within the fan. Root for the team with the former coach or the team with the former player.
Blazer fans have options and that’s always good.