The 2021 NBA Finals series between the Phoenix Suns - the Western Conference Champions - and the Milwaukee Bucks - the Eastern Conference Champions - is historic on multiple levels.
One of the most interesting storylines of this championships series is the inexperience of both rosters on the Finals stage. From both teams, only one player in Jae Crowder has previously made a Finals appearance - in 2020 with the Miami Heat.
This rare occurrence makes this championship series the first since 1971, and the fourth in NBA history, where no player from either roster has previously won a championship.
MORE: NBA Finals 2021 - By the numbers
This once-in-a-50-year occurence also snaps one of the most unique streaks in the NBA, which has been on since 1984.
Shaquille O'Neal's Finals streak
For 37 NBA Finals from 1984 to 2020, at least one former teammate of O'Neal's made an appearance in every championship series.
Despite the injuries to notable superstars and the lack of 'legacy' teams towards the business end of the playoffs, O'Neal's streak was still alive with Rajon Rondo - a member of the LA Clippers.
However, once the Suns eliminated the LA franchise in six games, the streak was done.
One of the greatest streaks in NBA history has come to an end.- StatMuse (@statmuse) July 1, 2021
A former teammate of Shaq's had made it to 37 straight NBA Finals. With Rajon Rondo eliminated, that streak is now over.
(Submitted by @DeePee30) pic.twitter.com/iobjZuvSL9
"I didn't even know about this streak until last year," O'Neal said. "All streaks come to an end. I'm just fortunate to have played for as long as I played."
Teammates through Finals streak
Before going through the list, it's important to note that in several Finals during these 37 years, multiple former teammates of Shaq were part of the teams going to battle in the Finals.
In the 2020 Finals, there were as many as seven players from the Los Angeles Lakers (LeBron James, Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Jared Dudley, Danny Green) and Miami Heat (Goran Dragic, Udonis Haslem) who were former teammates of O'Neal.
That said, here's a look at all players that were responsible for this amazing streak (For significance, teammates on the championship team have been mentioned).
|Finals year||Finals matchup||Most notable teammate||Years played with Shaq|
|1984||Celtics vs. Lakers||Greg Kite (Boston Celtics)||Orlando Magic (1992-94)|
|1985||Lakers vs. Celtics||Byron Scott (Los Angeles Lakers)||Lakers (1996-97)|
|1986||Celtics vs. Rockets||Greg Kite (Boston Celtics)||Orlando Magic (1992-94)|
|1987||Lakers vs. Celtics||A.C. Green (Los Angeles Lakers)||Lakers (1999-2000)|
|1988||Lakers vs. Pistons||A.C. Green (Los Angeles Lakers)||Lakers (1999-2000)|
|1989||Pistons vs. Lakers||Dennis Rodman (Detroit Pistons)||Lakers (1999)|
|1990||Pistons vs. Trail Blazers||John Salley (Detroit Pistons)||Lakers (1999-2000)|
|1991||Bulls vs. Lakers||Horace Grant (Chicago Bulls)||Magic (1994-96); Lakers (2000-01; 03-04)|
|1992||Bulls vs. Trail Blazers||Horace Grant (Chicago Bulls)||Magic (1994-96); Lakers (2000-01; 03-04)|
|1993||Bulls vs. Suns||Horace Grant (Chicago Bulls)||Magic (1994-96); Lakers (2000-01; 03-04)|
|1994||Rockets vs. Knicks||Robert Horry (Houston Rockets)||Lakers (1996-03)|
|1995||Rockets vs. Magic||Robert Horry (Houston Rockets)||Lakers (1996-03)|
|1996||Bulls vs. SuperSonics||Steve Kerr (Chicago Bulls)||Magic (1992-93)|
|1997||Bulls vs. Jazz||Ron Harper (Chicago Bulls)||Lakers (1999-01)|
|1998||Bulls vs. Jazz||Ron Harper (Chicago Bulls)||Lakers (1999-01)|
|1999||Spurs vs. Knicks||Jerome Kersey (San Antonio Spurs)||Lakers (1996-97)|
|2000||Lakers vs. Pacers||All Lakers|
|2001||Lakers vs. 76ers||All Lakers|
|2002||Lakers vs. Nets||All Lakers|
|2003||Spurs vs. Nets||Steve Kerr (San Antonio Spurs)||Magic (1992-93)|
|2004||Pistons vs. Lakers||Elden Campbell (Detroit Pistons)||Lakers (1996-99)|
|2005||Spurs vs. Pistons||Robert Horry (San Antonio Spurs)||Lakers (1996-03)|
|2006||Heat vs. Mavericks||All Heat players|
|2007||Spurs vs. Cavaliers||Robert Horry (San Antonio Spurs)||Lakers (1996-03)|
|2008||Celtics vs. Lakers||Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)||Celtics (2010-11)|
|2009||Lakers vs. Magic||Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)||Lakers (1996-04)|
|2010||Lakers vs. Celtics||Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)||Lakers (1996-04)|
|2011||Mavericks vs. Heat||LeBron James (Miami Heat)||Cavaliers (2009-10)|
|2012||Heat vs. Thunder||Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat)||Heat (2004-08)|
|2013||Heat vs. Spurs||Ray Allen (Miami Heat)||Celtics (2010-11)|
|2014||Spurs vs. Heat||Danny Green (San Antonio Spurs)||Cavaliers (2009-10)|
|2015||Warriors vs. Cavaliers||Leandro Barbosa (Golden State Warriors)||Suns (2008-09)|
|2016||Cavaliers vs. Warriors||Mo Williams (Cleveland Cavaliers)||Cavaliers (2009-10)|
|2017||Warriors vs. Cavaliers||Matt Barnes (Golden State Warriors)||Suns (2008-09)|
|2018||Warriors vs. Cavaliers||LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)||Cavaliers (2009-10)|
|2019||Raptors vs. Warriors||Danny Green (Toronto Raptors)||Cavaliers (2009-10)|
|2020||Lakers vs. Heat||LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)||Cavaliers (2009-10)|
For nearly one-third of this streak, four-time NBA Champion LeBron James carried the torch for this streak. The King, who was O'Neal's teammate in Cleveland for the Cavaliers in the 2009-10 season, recorded 10 Finals appearances over a 14-year span between 2007 and 2020.
In 2019, the one year James didn't make the Finals between 2011 and 2020, it was Danny Green (with the Toronto Raptors) - who was also O'Neal's teammate in Cleveland in that same 2009-10 season.
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