While much of the basketball world discussed (and obsessed with) what an NBA title would do for LeBron James, there were also two Miami Heat players who joined the list of NBA champions with NCAA titles as well.
Shane Battier (Duke, 2001) and Mario Chalmers (Kansas, 2008) can now add their names to the list, and according to the Sporting News 71% of the teams who have won a title have had an NCAA champ on the roster.
Battier became the first Blue Devil to accomplish the feat while Chalmers is the second Jayhawk to do so (Clyde Lovellette).
Since the first NBA champion was crowned in 1950 with Utah’s Arnie Ferrin helping the Minneapolis Lakers win it all, 43 of 61 NBA champions included at least one player who first won an NCAA title. If the Heat win, that’ll make it 71 percent of all NBA champs that included an NCAA champ in its rotation.
That list of players includes three of the best to have ever picked up a basketball in Magic Johnson (Michigan State, 1979), Michael Jordan (North Carolina, 1982) and Bill Russell (San Francisco, 1955 and 1956).
The Miami Heat also supplied the most recent player before last night to accomplish this double as Derek Anderson, who won a national title at Kentucky in 1996, was a member of their 2006 championship team.
Does the experience of winning at the college level prove beneficial at the pro level? The percentage above (along with the number of players who have won both titles) seems to offer evidence that it does help.
Whether it’s college coaches who try to mine successful scholastic programs or NBA teams that like to draft players from winning colleges, adding players who “know how to win” can provide the ultimate reward.