REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The Battle for the NBA championship title begins tonight between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But did you know that both teams have had ties to the Philippines?
The Warriors were the first NBA team to break in a Filipino American player, drafting Raymond Townsend in 1978. Townsend would spend a two seasons as a Warrior.
This year, both the Cavs and Warriors gave a pair of Fil-Ams a shot. Golden State signed rookie free agent Aaron Craft, who has gone on to win multiple awards in NBA’s developmental league.
The Cavs also signed Fil-Am rookie Stephen Holt. But Holt went on to play for Germany.
Cleveland’s Lebron James has his share of history with Filipinos. He played four season for the Miami Heat led by Fil-Am coach Erik Spoelstra. Under Spoelstra, James went to four straight trips to the NBA finals, winning two championships before returning to his native Cleveland.
James even helped launch a young Kobe Paras into Internet stardom. During a recent trip to the Philippines, a then 15-year-old Paras dunked on King James.
Meanwhile Steph Curry recently gave a gift to the Philippines people’s champion Manny Pacquiao — sending him an autographed jersey and even meeting with the Pacman’s kids during a game in Los Angeles.