19 things to celebrate from 2019: No. 1 – Auburn great becomes world champion

Fred VanVleet hasn’t played for Auburn High School since 2012 and his remarkable rise in the basketball world is almost like old news.

But VanVleet outdid himself in 2019 on the biggest stage in the basketball world.

VanVleet’s Toronto Raptors won the NBA title – the first in that franshise’s history – and you could make a convincing case that VanVleet should have been the NBA Finals MVP.

In the six-game series against the Golden State Warriors, VanVleet averaged 14 points and, more importantly, was the primary defender on Stephen Curry, holding him to just 41 percent shooting.

The Raptors run made VanVleet a national figure and capitivated Rockford. Thousands came out to watch NBA Finals games in downtown Rockford and thousands more filled the street when VanVleet brought the NBA championship trophy home.

This season, VanVleet now is entrenched as a starter and has a chance to be chosen for the NBA All-Star game in Chicago. Not bad for a player who was thought to be not fast enough or lacked explosiveness to play in the NBA.

Posted on 12.31.19