The story of Torrey Craig is the story of a highly unlikely NBA champion. While a professional baller in his own right, Craig’s career hasn’t exactly been as glamorous, decorated, or successful as your LeBrons, Kobes, or MJs. In fact, by all accounts, the man has barely held on to this life. But in a serendipitous twist of fate, Torrey Craig will soon be able to claim an NBA Championship ring in the 2020-21 season – no matter who wins.
Ahead of the current season, Craig signed with finalist team the Milwaukee Bucks, playing a total of 18 games before he found his head on the chopping board back in March. Ordinarily, this would be what the BH office calls “a shit go”. Fortunately for Craig, he landed in the other finalist team’s camp: the Phoenix Suns. Given the 18 games played with Milwaukee and the 32 games played for Phoenix since (including eight starts), our down-on-his-luck NBA player is eligible for a championship ring either way.
Have averaged under 13 minutes of playtime per playoff game with the Suns, as pointed out by SBNation, while Torrey Craig is “perhaps the least noteworthy player” you’ll see on the floor in the forthcoming NBA Finals, the fact that he’s still here shouldn’t be discounted as dumb luck. If anything, it’s an “enormous testament” to his grit, gumption, and hard work.
From flying under the national recruiting rankings radar at an underwhelming high school team, grinding away at the lowest level of Division I college basketball, making a living out here in Australia after going undrafted, and roughing it in the G League before eventually being offered a real shot with the Denver Nuggets… ‘unlikely NBA champion’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. This represents a triumph of an underdog against all odds. A triumph not seen since Steve Bradbury at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The prospect of Torrey Craig receiving a championship ring isn’t entirely unprecedented, either. In 2016, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anderson Verajao was traded, eventually donning a jersey for the Golden State Warriors. A similar set of circumstances wherein Cleveland and GSW faced off in the finals occurred, making Verajao eligible for a championship no matter what the outcome. He did, however, state he would not accept it should his former team secure the W (which they did). Whether Craig will accept his honour remains to be seen.
Somewhere out there, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson are punching the air.