Former NBA D-Leaguers In The 2009 NBA Finals
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images/NBAE
by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com
The 2009 NBA Finals matchup between the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers will mark the first time in NBA history when a team with more than two players on the roster with NBA D-League experience will win the NBA title. Both teams employ four players on their roster who have played at least one game in the NBA D-League. Here is a look at each player on the rosters and their NBA D-League experience.
Previous NBA-title winning teams where former NBA D-Leaguers were on the roster include the 2007-08 Boston Celtics (Gabe Pruitt), the 2006-07 San Antonio Spurs (James White), the 2005-06 Miami Heat (Earl Barron, Dorell Wright), the 2004-05 Spurs (Devin Brown, Mike Wilks) and the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons (Tremaine Fowlkes).
Los Angeles Lakers
Brown was acquired by the Lakers via a trade with the Bobcats earlier this season. He was assigned to the NBA D-League during both of his first two NBA seasons, playing a game with Albuquerque in 2006-07 (Cleveland) before being assigned twice by two different teams in 2007-08, making stops in Rio Grande Valley (Cleveland) and Iowa (Chicago). Overall he has a career average of 22.5 points in the NBA D-League.
Farmar, the Lakers' backup point guard, was the first player to play in both an NBA D-League and NBA game in the same day back in 2006-07 when he was assigned to the D-Fenders, played in their game, and then was recalled and played in the Lakers game that evening. He was also the first player to be assigned by the Lakers to the D-Fenders, the first NBA D-League team owned by their NBA affiliate.
The 6-11 Powell is in his first season with the Lakers and in his fourth overall NBA campaign. Powell was assigned to the NBA D-League as a rookie in 2005-06 by the Dallas Mavericks, playing in three games with the Fort Worth Flyers where he averaged 17.7 points.
A member of the Chinese National Team, Yue has played sparingly in his rookie year but spent some time on assignment with the D-Fenders earlier this season. He averaged 9.8 points in six NBA D-League games before being sidelined with an ankle injury. He has not been active for the playoffs with the Lakers.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/NBAE
Alston could make history if the Magic win the series, as he would be the first former NBA D-League player to start for a team that wins the NBA Championship. He was traded to Orlando from Houston earlier this season after Jameer Nelson was sidelined by injury, and has gone on to post 12.0 post and 5.1 assists in 29 games for the Magic. He played in the NBA D-League for Mobile during the 2002-03 season before receiving a GATORADE Call-Up to the Toronto Raptors.
The Polish-born Gortat has been a key player off the bench for Orlando in his second NBA season. Last year as a rookie he was assigned to the NBA D-League's Anaheim Arsenal, where he averaged 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in five games. This season he appeared in 63 games for the Magic after seeing the court in only six games as a rookie.
Johnson was the third overall call-up in NBA D-League history in 2002, signing with the Nets before going on to appear in two NBA FInals with New Jersey. Johnson, now in his 12th NBA season, is the current leader in most NBA games played by a former NBA D-League player with the current total standing at 762. Johnson also averaged 20.0 points for Indiana in the 2005-06 playoffs, which is a record for NBA D-League alumni.
RIchardson, the 2008 NBA D-League All-Star Game MVP, shares the record with Mikkie Moore for most GATORADE Call-Ups with five total over two seasons. He has spent the entire 2008-09 season with Magic, averaging 3.1 points in 12 games. Richardson has only played in one playoff game for the Magic during their run to the NBA Finals.