June 16, 2004
Former Clemson star Elden Campbell won his first NBA Championship Tuesday evening when the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 100-87 in Game Five of the Championship Finals. The 6-11 Campbell was a first-team All-ACC player on Clemson’s only ACC regular season championship team in history (1989-90). A four-year letterman and three-year starter, Campbell still holds the school record for career points with 1880.
This was Campbell’s 14th season in the NBA. He had played earlier in his career with Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets and the Seattle Supersonics before signing a free agent contract with the Pistons on July 26, 2003.
Campbell played in 65 games this past regular season, including 27 as a starter. He averaged 5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, and went over the 1000 games played mark near the end of the season. For his career he has a 10.6 scoring average for 1004 games, to go with 6.0 rebounds per game and 1595 blocked shots. He is ranked in the top 25 in NBA history in career blocked shots.
Campbell played in 14 playoff games for the Pistons this year, including all five in the championship series. He had four points and four rebounds in game five on Tuesday night, a 100-87 victory that clinched the championship for the Pistons.
Campbell is the first former Tiger to play on an NBA World Championship team since Horace Grant played on the championship Lakers team of 2000-01. Grant was on the Lakers bench in street clothes on Tuesday night as the Pistons defeated his Lakers team. Grant missed the playoffs this year due to injury, but played in 55 games for the Lakers during the regular season, his 17th year in the NBA.
Grant and Campbell were teammates at Clemson during the 1986-87 season, Grant’s senior year. Grant was the MVP of the ACC that year, the only Clemson player to win that award in history, and Campbell was his backup as a freshman center. That year the Tigers finished with a 25-6 record and the victory total is still a Clemson school record.
Grant has the most world championship rings among former Clemson athletes in any sport with four. He won three with the Chicago Bulls from 1991-93 and one with the Lakers in 2001. No other former Tiger basketball players have been on a world championship team.
Clemson’s tradition of former athletes being a part of professional world championship team dates to 1926. That October, Flint Rheem was a pitcher on the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, one of two championships he won in St. Louis. In November of 1926, Robert Potts was a member of the NFL Champion Frankfort Yellow Jackets. That year the NFL champion was determined by regular season play.
Overall, four different former Clemson athletes have been on World Series Championship teams, including Jimmy Key, who was a member of the Toronto Bluejays in 1992 and the New York Yankees in 1996. He joins Grant as the only former Clemson athletes to play for two different teams that won world championships.
Clemson has had 19 different football players earn a total of 27 Super Bowl Championship rings dating to the 1968 season when Bill Mathis won a ring with Joe Namath and the New York Jets. Jeff Bostic is the only former Tiger to win three Super Bowl Championship rings. Terry Kinard and William Perry are the only athletes in Clemson history to win a national championship at Clemson and a professional world championship.
Clemson’s Professional World Champions
May 25, 2023
May 9, 2023
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April 13, 2023