While the focus of this year’s NBA Finals surrounds the current MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, widely considered as the best all-round player on the planet, many forget that there is an international flavour to this series.
And while the San Antonio Spurs were noted for their heavy international presence in last season’s Finals win, with players including Eurobasket 2013 MVP Tony Parker of France, Brazil’s Tiago Splitter and Argentina’s Manu Ginobili, this year, it’s been somewhat of an afterthought.
So here are the 2015 NBA Finals international facts:
This year’s series does boast a strong international presence: the Cavaliers Kyrie Irving, who won the FIBA World Cup MVP last summer with the USA was actually born in Melbourne, Australia and was invited to join the Boomers for the London 2012 Olympics, but declined in hope of a future spot with the U.S.
A World Cup MVP and a near guaranteed spot on the 2016 Rio Olympic team later, it’s safe to say that he made the right choice.
Russia’s Timofey Mozgov will look to become the first Russian to win the NBA championship, something that is quite hard to believe considering the talent pool that the country has produced over the years.
The Cavaliers’ international list is complete when Matthew Dellavedova keeps the Australian appearances at NBA Finals going when he plays on Thursday. And he’ll have a fellow countryman on the opposite side of the court in Andrew Bogut who is making his Finals debut for the Warriors after joining the league in 2005.
The South American influence is not as heavy this year as it was last, but Brazil’s Leandro Barbosa keeps the continent’s consistency going with a showing. Cavs big man Anderson Verejao, also of Brazil is injured.
The international players involved in this year’s NBA Finals is completed with Nigeria’s Festus Ezeli and Serbia’s Ognjen Kuzmic, though both are not expected to feature for the Warriors despite being listed.
And finally, Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt is on the verge of a feat that has not been done in world basketball, should his side become NBA champions.
The American-Israeli’s feat is quite the rarity as no coach has ever boasted both Euroleague and NBA titles on their resumes.
Did Steph or LeBron ever pop into your head while you read that? Thought not.