Winning a championship seemed far out of reach for Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota. The Timberwolves made just one brief playoff appearance during his five and a half seasons with the team and he was widely viewed as a disappointment after being the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft.
Wiggins’ fortunes changed with a trade to Golden State in 2020, and the Canadian native was able to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy with him this weekend to show participants at youth basketball camps in his hometown, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of people had counted me out,” Wiggins said, “but to be back and … winning a championship? All the sacrifices, all the ups and downs, all the stuff was worth it. It makes the story that much better.”
Wiggins played an important role in helping the Warriors win that trophy, particularly in the NBA Finals against the Celtics. He was the team’s second-leading scorer in the six-game series at 18.3 PPG and the leading rebounder at 8.8 RPG.
Although he’s finally getting recognition around the league, Wiggins said he never doubted his abilities.
“When I step on the court, I’ve always been confident in what I can do,” he said. “When I was in Minnesota, I put up numbers. But people said, ‘He put up numbers on a bad team.’ So, I go to Golden State and I’m not scoring as much, but I’m doing a lot at a more efficient rate, so the whole world gets to see.”
Wiggins credits a strong support group with helping him get through the tough times, starting with his parents, former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and ex-Olympic track star Marita Payne. He also has a large fanbase in the Vaughan and Mississauga area, especially after returning home as a champion.
“It’s been a different type of summer, but the best summer of my life,” Wiggins said. “It’s been amazing coming down here and feeling all this love and positivity. It’s been great. Just being able to bring the trophy back home to where it all started for me … where all my friends and family are that helped me get to the place where I’m at now.”