Buford’s men go back-to-back as Kings crowned champs

Sydney Kings 77-69 NZ Breakers / 16 Mar 2023


The Sydney Kings’ successful defence of their NBL title in 2023 took place in front of a sellout crowd. Photo: Simon_sees (CC BY 2.0)

Sydney Kings Head Coach Chase Buford has described their championship win as ‘tough’ after a difficult end to the season.

Buford, 34, coached the Kings to their fifth championship after defeating the New Zealand Breakers 77-69 in game five of the grand final series.

“You know last year was kind of a crescendo towards the end…this was a grind, this whole year,” the former Milwaukee Bucks assistant said.

“We started the year pretty well and then we had a little lull towards the end and [we were] wondering if we were ever going to find ourselves again and get it back when we needed it.”

The Kings’ Finals MVP Derrick Walton Jr. had 21 points, three rebounds and six assists in game five.

Walton said he had a personal belief that he was the best player on the court.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve been one of, if not the best player – that’s just the type of confidence I carry,” the point guard said.

“Whenever the moment is there I don’t have a problem with putting my shoes on and tying them up and taking it – I don’t really shy away from it at all.”

The Kings now join the Perth Wildcats as the only two franchises to win back to back championships twice.

Buford was asked whether the side was in the middle of a dynasty.

“We’re in the middle of a back-to-back – that’s what I’m worried about tonight,” he said.

“I don’t really care about anything other than our group winning two and just winning tonight.”

Buford added that he wasn’t focused on what his next career move is with his contract ending.

“A whole lot of alcohol, and then a baby in a few weeks so, we’ll focus on those two things,” he said.