DETROIT – If you’re a professional basketball fan, it can be fun or frustrating to see a former member of the Detroit Pistons playing in the NBA finals. But if you like college hoops, it’s inspiring to see two players with local connections excelling on the sport’s biggest stage.
Nunn spent two yers at Oakland University, dominating the Horizon League. He didn’t catch the eye of NBA scouts, but he didn’t give up, going from undrafted free agent to runner up in the Rookie of the Year race.
“The path he took to get there, all the things he did to make himself as good as he could possibly be to have success -- here he is living a dream,” Oakland basketball coach Greg Kampe said. “Really gratifying when one of your players lives a dream.”
As a member of the Miami Heat, Nunn has been fun to watch, Kampe said. He scored 18 points in Game 1 of the series.
“When your’e a basketball player or grew up playing, you laid in bed at night dreaming of playing in the NBA Finals,” Kampe said. “There’s Kendrick Nunn having double digits. I’m really happy for him.”
Miami teammate Duncan Robinson knows about being underestimated. He scored 1,000 points at the University of Michigan, but also went undrafted.
Robinson took his Michigan mentality to the gym, worked hard in the summer league and turned it into a contract. This year, he shot over 44% from 3-point range, which was second-best in the league.
In Game 4 of the Finals, he scored 17 points. His former coach at Michigan, John Beilein, said he’s proud of Robinson, so he texted him.
“Every two games,” Beilein said. “Catch up and send him a text. He always answers back. I say, ‘Don’t text me back.’ When you go on a run like this, you have a lot of texts. I wasn’t surprised, but he texted me back. You are a hunter. A big game hunter. Your mentality has always brought you success. Believe. That was the gist of the tests.”
Former Detroit Pistons first-round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is also playing in the Finals, for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Miami currently trails Los Angeles 3-1 in the series.
Beilein said he’s back in Ann Arbor. You might see him more as a broadcaster, and he also has a charity that is close to his heart.