(Photo of Jordan Nwora: Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports)
MILWAUKEE - Former Louisville men's basketball star Jordan Nwora is now an NBA Champion.
Matched up against the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals, his Milwaukee Bucks overcame an 0-2 series deficit, culminating in a 105-98 win on Tuesday night, clinching the best-of-seven series in six games after firing off four consecutive wins.
Nwora is the first former Cardinal since 2002 to win the Finals, when Samaki Walker did so with the Los Angeles Lakers. It is Milwaukee’s first title since 1974, with forward Giannis Antetokounmpo being named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the series.
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound rookie wing saw the court just once in the series, being inserted during garbage time of Milwaukee's 120-100 game three blowout win. He made his lone shot of the game, a three-pointer in the game's waning minutes, while also hauling in a rebound.
Nwora played in five games during the Bucks' postseason run, making his playoff debut in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs vs. the Miami Heat. In game two, he notched five points (2-6 FG, 1-3 3PT), as well as two rebounds and a block. He went 0-4 in game three, with no other stats logged.
He was sidelined for the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets with a left thigh injury, but made his return for the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Atlanta Hawks. He had three points (1-5 FG, 1-2 FT), six rebounds and an assist in game two, followed by four points (4-5 FT) in game four.
The Buffalo, N.Y. native only saw action in 30 games during the regular season, partially due to an ankle injury. He averaged 5.7 points and 2.0 rebounds, and put up a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds in the regular season finale.
Nwora was one of three former Cardinals to make it to the 2021 NBA Playoffs, and had the deepest playoff run. Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz were eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semis, while Montrezl Harrell and the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Suns in the Western Conference's opening round.
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