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Jayhawk Christian Braun Wins NBA Title


By: The University of Kansas Athletics


DENVER, Colo. ( – Former Kansas guard Christian Braun became the 15th Jayhawk to win an NBA title when the Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 94-89 on Monday night to win the 2023 NBA Finals, 4-1.

A rookie in 2022-23, Braun was the No. 21 selection in the 2022 NBA Draft by the Nuggets. In his first season, Braun played in 76 regular-season games, starting six for top-seeded Denver. He averaged 15.5 minutes, 4.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and shot 49.5 percent form the field, including 35.4 percent from three-point range during the regular season. Braun played 19 playoff games and averaged 13.0 minutes, 3.2 points, 2.1 rebounds with a 53.3 field goal percentage. In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Braun finished 7-8 from the field for 15 points in 19 minutes of action as the Nuggets won 109-94 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Denver was the Western Conference No. 1 seed after going 53-29 in the regular season. In the playoffs, the Nuggets defeated Minnesota (4-1), Phoenix (4-2) and the L.A. Lakers (4-0) to reach the NBA finals. The series win over Miami allowed Denver to claim its first NBA Championship.

Braun played three seasons at Kansas from 2019-20 to 2021-22. In 2020, the Burlington, Kansas, native was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team and he was a 2021 all-conference honorable mention selection the following season. In Kansas’ 2022 NCAA National Championship season, Braun averaged 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The two-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection was an all-league second-team selection, and was on the all-tournament teams for the Big 12 Championship and the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional. in his three seasons at KU, Braun played in 101 games with 74 starts and had 1,018 career points, 506 rebounds, 183 assists and 97 steals.

Braun is now the fifth player in NBA history to win an NCAA title and an NBA title in back-to-back seasons. He joins Bill Russell (1956 San Francisco; 1957 Boston Celtics), Henry Bibby (1972 UCLA; 1973 New York Knicks), Magic Johnson (1979 Michigan State, 1980 L.A. Lakers) and Billy Thompson (1986 Louisville; 1987 L.A. Lakers).

With the addition of Braun, there have been 15 Jayhawks who have won 20 NBA titles during their professional careers. Braun becomes the seventh Jayhawk under head coach Bill Self to win an NBA title. He joins Wayne Simien (2006), Mario Chalmers (2012, 2013), Brandon Rush (2015), Sasha Kaun (2016), Markieff Morris (2020) and Andrew Wiggins (2022).

Braun is the fifth Kansas player to have won both an NCAA and NBA title and the fourth under Self. He joins Clyde Lovellette (1952 NCAA title) and Chalmers, Rush and Kaun, who were members of the 2008 NCAA National Championship team.

With Wiggins winning the 2022 title with Golden State, Braun’s feat marks the fourth time two or more different KU players have won back-to-back NBA titles. Simien (2006) and Jacque Vaughn (2007) were the first, followed by Vaughn (2007) and Paul Pierce and Scot Pollard in 2008 and Rush (2015) and Kaun (2016). Chalmers won back-to-back with the Heat in 2012 and 2013 and Lovellette also won back-to-back NBA titles with the Celtics in 1963 and 1964.

KU legends Wilt Chamberlain (1972), Jo Jo White (1976) and Pierce (2008) were Jayhawks who were also named NBA Finals Most Valuable Players.

NBA Champion Jayhawks (*Finals Most Valuable Player)
Clyde Lovellette (1950-52 at KU)
1954 – Minneapolis Lakers
1963, 1964 – Boston Celtics

Maurice King (1955-57 at KU)
1960 – Boston Celtics

Wilt Chamberlain (1957-58 at KU)
1967 – Philadelphia 76ers
*1972 – L.A. Lakers

Jo Jo White (1966-69 at KU)
1974, *1976 – Boston Celtics

Bill Bridges (1959-61 at KU)
1975 – Golden State Warriors

Wayne Simien (2002-05 at KU)
2006 – Miami Heat

Jacque Vaughn (1994-97 at KU)
2007 – San Antonio Spurs

Paul Pierce (1996-98 at KU)
*2008 – Boston Celtics

Scot Pollard (1994-97 at KU)
2008 – Boston Celtics

Mario Chalmers (2006-08 at KU)
2012, 2013 – Miami Heat

Brandon Rush (2006-08 at KU)
2015 – Golden State Warriors

Sasha Kaun (2005-08 at KU)
2016 – Cleveland Cavaliers

Markieff Morris (2009-11 at KU)
2020 – Los Angeles Lakers

Andrew Wiggins (2014 at KU)
2022 – Golden State Warriors

Christian Braun (2020-22 at KU)
2023 – Denver Nuggets