Three Tar Heels in NBA Finals

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Starting tonight, University of North Carolina alumni Rick Fox, Mitch Kupchak and Mike O'Koren are the latest in a long line of former Tar Heel basketball players to be involved in the NBA Finals. Fox and Kupchak are seeking their third consecutive world championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, Fox as a player and Kupchak as general manager. O'Koren is in his third year as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Nets.

Carolina has a long history of involvement in the NBA Finals. In all, 30 members of the last 26 NBA championship teams have been Carolina alumni.

Fox is the starting small forward for the two-time defending NBA champs. A former first-round pick of the Boston Celtics, Fox is an 11-year veteran who signed with the Lakers prior to the 1997-98 season. He is a valued defensive stopper and outside shooter for Los Angeles.

Kupchak has served as GM of the Lakers since 1992 and took over as the top personnel man for the Lakers after the retirement of former GM Jerry West two years ago. Kupchak has won seven NBA championship rings since leaving Carolina ¯ three as a player and four as a member of the Lakers¢ front office.

O'Koren has performed a number of duties for the Nets over the last two decades, working as a player, assistant coach, broadcaster and in the franchise's community affairs department in the last 22 years. A member of the staff of head coach Byron Scott for the last two seasons, O¢Koren helped guide the Nets to the best record in the NBA¢s Eastern Conference this season. The Nets defeated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals to reach the NBA Finals.

The Lakers and Nets will play Game One of the 2002 NBA Finals tonight at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally by NBC.

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