The Daily Nole

FSU Basketball: Noles Who Played in the NBA Finals

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Florida State has had numerous Super Bowl champions, some MVPs and more than its fair share of World Series champions as well. The list of former FSU basketball players who have appeared in the NBA Finals however, is much shorter.

There aren’t any Seminoles on this year’s rosters as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are battling it out for basketball supremacy for the second straight season. In fact, throughout the history of the NBA, only five Seminoles have appeared on a Finals roster. Here they are:

Sam Cassell (1994 and 1995 Houston Rockets, 2008 Boston Celtics)
Sam Cassell’s first two seasons in the NBA ended with the former Florida State guard hoisting a trophy for the Houston Rockets. Though he never made an All-Star game, Cassell spent 16 successful seasons in the league. As a rookie during the 1994 NBA Finals, Cassell averaged 10 points per game as the Rockets ousted the New York Knicks in seven games. In a sweep of the Orlando Magic the following season, Cassell averaged more than 14 points per game, including 31 on 8-for-12 shooting in a Game 2 victory in Orlando. As a reserve guard for the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, Cassell appeared in four NBA Finals games, scoring 10 total points. The Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

Dave Cowens (1974 and 1976 Boston Celtics)
An 8-time NBA All-Star, Rookie of the Year and 1972-73 league MVP, Hall of Fame forward Dave Cowens played in two Finals for the storied Boston Celtics franchise. Cowens averaged nearly 23 points per game during Boston’s 7-game Finals victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in 1974, but guard John Havlicek was named the series MVP. Cowens averaged 20.5 points as the Celtics took down the Phoenix Suns in six games in the 1976 NBA Finals, but guard Jo Jo White was the MVP this time around.

Irving Thomas (1991 Los Angeles Lakers)
Forward Irving Thomas didn’t contribute much for the Los Angeles Lakers during his only season in the NBA. Still, Thomas was part of the active roster for a Lakers team that lost to the Chicago Bulls in five games in the 1991 NBA Finals, giving the legendary Michael Jordan his first of six championships. Thomas appeared in just three playoff games that season for the Lakers, but didn’t see the court during the Finals.

Charlie Ward (1999 New York Knicks)
Best known by Florida State fans for winning the Heisman Trophy in 1993 and leading the Seminoles to their first national championship on the gridiron that year, Charlie Ward spent 11 seasons in the NBA. Ward’s only NBA Finals appearance came during the NBA lockout-shorted 1998-99 season. Without All-Star center Patrick Ewing, the New York Knicks went from the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference all the way to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately for Ward, the Knicks would fall in five games, but during the series, Ward averaged 5.8 points, 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals. Ward’s best game of the series came in a Game 4 loss where he tallied 11 points, eight assists and four steals.

Mitchell Wiggins (1986 Houston Rockets)
Though his career was relatively short, former Florida State guard Mitchell Wiggins had a productive 6-year NBA career, averaging in double-figures scoring while shooting at a 46 percent clip. Though he didn’t get a single start, Wiggins appeared in 78 games for the Houston Rockets during the 1985-86 season, helping Houston reach the NBA Finals where it lost in six games to the Boston Celtics. Wiggins averaged better than eight points and three rebounds during the Finals. Wiggins scored 16 in a Game 5 victory to help the Rockets stave off elimination. Wiggins is the father of Andrew Wiggins, one of the NBA’s bright young stars and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

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