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Jayhawks’ Christian Braun wins NBA title

UNITED STATES. ~ On Monday night, the Denver Nuggets beat the Miami Heat 94-89 to win the 2023 NBA Finals, 4-1, making Christian Braun the 15th Jayhawk to win an NBA title. Braun was drafted 21st by the Nuggets in 2022. Braun started six games for Denver in his rookie season. He averaged 15.5 minutes, 4.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 49.5 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from three-point range in the regular season. Braun averaged 13.0 minutes, 3.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 53.3% field goals in 19 playoff games. Braun scored 15 points on 7-8 shooting in 19 minutes as the Nuggets won Game 3 of the NBA Finals 109-94 to take a 2-1 lead. After going 53-29, Denver was the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets reached the NBA Finals by beating Minnesota (4-1), Phoenix (4-2) and the Lakers (4-0). Denver won its first NBA title after beating Miami.

Braun played three seasons at Kansas from 2019-2022. The 2020 All-Freshman Big 12 team member from Burlington, Kansas was a 2021 All-Conference Honorable Mention. Braun averaged 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds for Kansas in the 2022 NCAA National Championship. The two-time first-team Academic All-Big 12 was an all-league No. 2 and an all-tournament pick in the NCAA Midwest Regional and Big 12 Tournament Championship. Braun played in 101 games and started 74, scoring 1,018 points, 506 rebounds, 183 assists and 97 steals in three seasons at KU. Braun is the fifth NBA player to win NCAA and NBA titles in consecutive seasons. He joined Bill Russell (1956 San Francisco; 1957 Boston Celtics), Henry Bibby (1972 UCLA; 1973 New York Knicks), Magic Johnson (1979 Michigan State, 1980 LA Lakers) and Billy Thompson (1986 Louisville; 1987 Lakers).

Braun made 15 Jayhawks with 20 NBA titles. Braun is Bill Self’s eighth NBA champion. He joins Wayne Simien (2006), Mario Chalmers (2012, 2013), Brandon Rush (2015), Sasha Kaun (2016), Markieff Morris (2020) and Andrew Wiggins (2022). Braun is Self’s fourth NBA champion and sixth NCAA champion. He joins 1952 NCAA champion Clyde Lovellette and 2008 NCAA champions Chalmers, Rush and Kaun. Braun’s feat marks the fourth time two or more KU players have won back-to-back NBA titles, following Wiggins’ 2022 title with Golden State. Simien (2006), Jacque Vaughn (2007), Paul Pierce and Scot Pollard (2008), Rush (2015) and Kaun (2016) followed. Chalmers and Lovellette have both won back-to-back NBA titles. Wilt Chamberlain (1972), Jo Jo White (1976) and Pierce (2008) were NBA Finals MVPs.

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