Jun 10, 2024 - News

NBA Finals players with Michigan ties

Al Horford (Celtics) posts up on Xavier Tillman Sr. (Grizzlies) earlier this season before the Celtics traded for Tillman Sr.

Al Horford (42) backs down Xavier Tillman Sr. this season before the former Spartan was traded from Memphis to Boston. Both played high school basketball in Michigan. Photo: Justin Ford/Getty

The NBA Finals tipped off last week and though it will take years before Detroit is in contention for a championship, the series between Dallas and Boston features players with Michigan ties.

The intrigue: Both teams have players who played high school or college basketball in the state.

Boston's Al Horford went to Grand Ledge High School and played for Billy Donovon's Florida Gators over Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. It was a smart choice; he won back-to-back national championships in 2006-07 and became a Florida legend.

Boston's Xavier Tillman Sr. was born in Grand Rapids and became one of the best prospects in the state at Forest Hills Central High School before attending Michigan State to play for Tom Izzo in 2017.

  • He'll be remembered by Spartan fans as the guy who defended Zion Williamson in the Elite Eight round of the 2019 NCAA tournament. He matched his career high in scoring with 19 points and nine rebounds to help MSU upset first-seeded Duke, 68–67.

Dallas' Tim Hardaway Jr. put in three star seasons for John Beilein's Michigan Wolverines.

  • When Hardaway was drafted 24th overall by the New York Knicks in 2013, he and guard Trey Burke — who went ninth overall — became the first Michigan duo selected in the first round since Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose in 1994.
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