Two basketball players with Utah ties won the Euroleague championship on Saturday.
Former BYU Cougars guard Elijah Bryant and former Utah Jazz center Tibor Pleiss helped Turkey’s Anadolu Efes beat Spain’s Real Madrid 58-57.
Saturday’s game went down to the final minute when Spanish star Sergio Llull pulled Real Madrid to within a point on a bucket with 45 seconds left, but those proved to be the final points of the game.
Bryant became the second player ever to win an NBA championship and a Euroleague championship in back-to-back seasons.
Saturday’s win followed Bryant winning the NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks last season.
He joined Efes a short time later, after it had won the 2021 Euroleague title. Euroleague is widely considered the best competition in the world outside of the NBA.
Bryant becomes the 10th player overall to win both an NBA title and a Euroleague title in their careers, joining a list that includes the likes of San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili.
Rather incredibly, Bryant also won a championship in 2020, as he helped lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israeli League title.
On Saturday, Bryant played nearly 29 minutes, and although he didn’t score, he pulled down eight rebounds and added an assist.
Pleiss, who played for the Utah Jazz during the 2015-2016 season, was excellent on Saturday, finishing with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal.
Another former Jazzman, point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, plays for Real Madrid but was injured in the semifinals on Thursday (a win over Spain’s Barcelona, which featured former BYU big man Brandon Davies and former Jazz guard Dante Exum) and did not play Saturday.
Correction: It was originally believed that Bryant was the first player ever to win an NBA championship and Euroleague championship in back-to-back seasons, but Jim Brewer was the first. He won the NBA title in 1982 with the Lakers followed by the European Cup (now EuroLeague) with Ford Cantu in 1983.