NBA Finals 2021

NBA Finals 2021: Suns-Bucks series snaps Shaquille O'Neal's unique teammate streak in the Finals

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.

"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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