Miami basketball alum James Jones who played for the Hurricanes from 1999-2003 has led the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals after being named the Executive of the Year last month. Jones won the award after leading Phoenix to the finals in his second season as G.M. after the Suns missed the playoff for 10 straight seasons.
Jones played four seasons for the Miami basketball program. In his senior season in 2002-2003, Jones was second on the Hurricanes averaging 16.9 points per game and led the team with 6.0 rebounds per game. Jones was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Jones is third all-time in Miami basketball history with 89 consecutive games started. As a freshman in 1999-2000, Jones was a part of the first Sweet 16 team in Miami history. Jones spent 14 seasons in the NBA including two with the Suns. From 2011-17, Jones appeared in seven straight NBA finals with Cleveland and Miami.
This is the first NBA Finals for Jones as an executive. Phoenix is appearing in their first NBA Finals since 1993 and only their third ever. The Suns lost to the Boston Celtics in 1976 and Chicago Bulls in 1993, each time in six games. Phoenix has never won an NBA Championship. They will play the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals.
Milwaukee is appearing in its first NBA Finals since 1974 when they also lost to Boston. The Bucks defeated the then San Francisco Warriors for their line NBA title in 1971. Jones has often been involved during his career in helping a franchise that has not often seen NBA success. The Heat was an exception.
Cleveland won its first NBA title in its 46th season, making its second NBA Finals appearance in 2016. The Cavaliers’ first NBA Finals appearance came the season before when James made his return to Cleveland after four years with the Heat. Jones’ success as a player groomed him as a future General Manager.