SANTA CRUZ, CA – The Santa Cruz Warriors were recognized as the 2020-21 NBA G League Franchise of the Year. The announcement was made at the league’s sales and marketing meetings earlier today. This marks the second time the Santa Cruz Warriors have won the league’s most prestigious award having also won in 2017-18, the award’s inaugural year.
“The entire Santa Cruz Warriors team and I are honored to receive this recognition by the league,” said Santa Cruz Warriors President Chris Murphy. “This year challenged us more than ever but as an entire group, we fought through adversity, and it showed in the community and on the court. This recognition is not only for us internally, but the entire Santa Cruz community.”
The Santa Cruz Warriors, NBA G League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, defined perseverance on and off the court in 2020-21. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Cruz was committed to the community and excelled on the court. The Warriors year is highlighted by successes in corporate partnerships, televised broadcasts, and social media engagements during the single-site.
In the community, the Warriors hosted over 130 events both in-person and virtually. At the start of Black History Month, over 3,200 Santa Cruz and Bay Area students participated in an Anti-Racism Webinar that included NBA veteran Shaun Livingston and WNBA player Natasha Cloud. Through a partnership with Kaiser Permanente, the Warriors engaged with over 3,400 students in their Read to Achieve, Math Warriors and Get Fit programs. Kaiser Permanente Arena, home of the Santa Cruz Warriors, also hosted a Recovery Resource Center for fire victims, became a polling center for the general election and a vaccination center for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Santa Cruz Warriors also unveiled the Swishes for Dishes Initiative, a new program during the 2020-21 season to combat food insecurity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this program the Santa Cruz Warriors were able to donate 50,280 meals to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County. The program received over 488,000 social media impressions across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and was also recently recognized with one of the league’s Social Responsibility Awards.
On the court, the Santa Cruz Warriors participated in the 2020-21 NBA G league single-site in Orlando, Florida. After a 0-2 start, the Warriors bounced back and found a 9-0 run in the middle of the season to finish the regular season second with a 11-4 record. The Warriors made it to the semi-finals, losing to the eventual champions Lakeland Magic. Warriors two-way forward Juan Toscano-Anderson signed a multi-year NBA contract and Santa Cruz Warriors forward Axel Toupane earned a two-way contract to the Milwaukee Bucks, the 2020-21 NBA Champions.
A selection committee comprised of league executives determined the winner of the Franchise of the Year award. The NBA G League’s teams were evaluated based on the NBA G League’s three core pillars: Compete with Intensity, Lead with Integrity and Inspire Play.
For more information on the Santa Cruz Warriors, visit santacruzbasketball.com or call (831) 713-4400.