The Western Conference Finals kicked off about 15 minutes ago as of this writing. Unfortunately, there are no Purdue players on either the Eastern or Western side of the bracket. And, Jaden Ivey’s Pistons didn’t get the #1 pick in the Draft Lottery. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a bit of a Purdue flavor to these conference finals. What does that mean? Well, I’ll show you a tweet and see if you can figure it out.
Do you see it? No? Come on! Get it together!
Okay, I don’t blame you. I had no idea until some fine folks on Twitter pointed it out to me. Two of these officials have ties to Purdue University with one being a Purdue graduate.
Official James Williams, located on the bottom row of this lineup, went to high school in LaPorte, IN and is a graduate of our beloved Purdue University. He is in his 13th season as an NBA official. He’s worked 45 playoff games including three NBA Finals games. He’s also refereed two All-Star Games (2013, 2022). He previously worked as an NCAA Official and spent time in the WNBA and the G League.
Williams graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor’s in Law and Society and History. He was honored as an Outstanding Graduate at the time. He now resides in Chicago.
The second Purdue connection isn’t a graduate but rather a former employee. Tyler Ford spent a number of years working in intramural sports at Purdue. He was the Director of Intramurals and was instrumental in building up the pool of officials. A friend of mine worked in IM at the same time and said that Ford was incredibly knowledgeable, loved to review game film, and was always available to text about block and charge calls during games.
Congrats to these two and best of luck in this incredibly stressful role.