Let’s make this perfectly clear: Torrey Craig wants the Phoenix Suns to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals. Why? Because he plays for them. It makes perfect sense, but what’s Craig’s consolation prize if they lose? A championship ring.
Torrey Craig had an outstanding college career
Torrey Craig played his high school basketball at Great Falls High School in Great Falls, South Carolina, and then played collegiately at the University of South Carolina Upstate. At SCU, Craig was a four-year star. As a freshman, the 6-foot-7 small forward averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds. He was named the Freshman of the Year in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The following year, Craig was named the conference’s top player after putting up 16.4 points per game. He was named an All-American honorable mention. He also led the conference in scoring.
As a junior, Craig led the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game. He reached the 2,000-point mark for his career as a senior, scoring 22 points in a game against East Tennessee State. Craig was just the seventh player in Atlantic Sun history to score 2,000 career points.
Torrey Craig will get an NBA championship ring no matter what
Craig didn’t take the traditional route to the NBA. After his four years at SCU, he signed with the Cairns Taipans, a professional team in Australia. He hoped to hook on with an NBA team, but that fell through, even though he believed he had an outstanding workout.
“I worked out with the Minnesota Timberwolves and thought I did great, but being from a small school, I think you don’t get the same treatment as the guys from the bigger schools,” he told the Cairns Post in 2014. “But I have an opportunity to prove myself now and I want to make the best of it.”
Craig eventually made his way to the NBA, signing with the Denver Nuggets in 2017. He played three seasons with the Nuggets, averaging 5.3 points per game. Last November, he signed with the Bucks as a free agent. He played in 18 games this season, coming off the bench and averaging 2.5 points in 11.2 minutes. The Bucks traded him to the Suns in March for cash considerations.
So when the Bucks punched their ticket to the NBA Finals with a Game 6 win over the Atlanta Hawks, Craig was already considered a champion. He’ll get that ring either way.
Craig’s situation is rare, but it happened in 2016
No player on either team has earned a championship ring. According to Yahoo! Sports, this is the first time since 1977 that no player on either team has ever won an NBA Finals. The pressure is off Craig, however, who has a ring coming his way, provided he’ll accept it if the Bucks pull off the upset.
In 2016, Anderson Varejao, who spent 12 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, was traded to the Golden State Warriors during the season. Sure enough, the Cavs and Warriors met up in the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to shock the Warriors, becoming the first team in NBA history to battle back from such a deficit. Varejao was offered a ring by the Cavaliers but refused to accept it. As far as getting a ring goes, the pressure is off for Craig. It would make life much easier for him if the Suns just went out and won.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.