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The Most Finals By A Non-Celtics Or Lakers Player In NBA History

The Most Finals By A Non-Celtics Or Lakers Player In NBA History

The goal for every team every season is to make the NBA Finals, by all means necessary. It certainly isn’t easy to do so, because only one franchise out of fifteen per conference gets the chance to compete for the coveted NBA title. That is why it takes a mix of factors for a team to even get a chance to sniff the Finals, let alone win the award. Perhaps the most important factor is talent because a mix of stars and exceptional role players are needed to make plays on the court. Of course, having one of the best coaches in the league normally means title contention is in the cards. Otherwise, health and a bit of luck can make or break a team’s season.

It is also rare for an NBA player to make multiple Finals appearances in his career because luck and also impact comes into play whenever a play has over 15 games played in the Finals. It is very difficult for a player to make the Finals consistently, which is why the majority of those players have either played for the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers at some point. Both of those franchises are the most accomplished in NBA history, having won 17 championships each with Boston looking for the 18th this year.

Famous Celtics players making multiple Finals appearances include Bill Russell, who made 12, and Sam Jones who made 11 Finals. Hall of Famer Tom Heinsohn made 9 Finals appearances while John Havlicek also made 8 appearances, an indication of how dominant the Celtics have been throughout NBA history. Of course, the Lakers have also had a ton of players make the Finals consistently including LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who made 10 Finals each. Legendary guards Magic Johnson and Jerry West also made 9 Finals each, with role player Derek Fisher chipping in 8 Finals appearances.

It is very hard to select players with multiple Finals appearances who have not played with the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers at some point, but we have selected the mix of players that have appeared in at least 5 Finals. There is also one non-Laker and non-Celtic who managed to make the most Finals with 7 appearances, and it is time to find out who that is.

5 NBA Finals Appearances

Steve Kerr - 27 Total Games

Steve Kerr

Finals Statistics: 3.6 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.0 BPG

The man who Michael Jordan trusted to make the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1997 Finals, Steve Kerr consistently competed in the Finals as a member of the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. The guard lacked All-Star talent and was not the greatest defender, but he is one of the greatest shooters of all time.

Kerr averaged 45.4% from three over his career during the regular season, which ranks 1st all-time although his shooting percentages in the Finals were not as great. The guard only shot 27.8% from three, but he made a big one in 1997 which solidified his legacy as an all-time great marksman.

Udonis Haslem - 27 Total Games

Udonis Haslem

Finals Statistics: 3.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.3 BPG

The ultimate enforcer and current player-coach, Udonis Haslem has had a very long NBA career spanning 18 years with the Miami Heat. He started out as the starting big man for the Miami Heat and even played an important role for the 2006 team that won the NBA Finals on the back of Dwyane Wade.

Haslem was playing major minutes mainly because of his toughness and ability to make open jumpers, and his professionalism has allowed him to compete for many more seasons. Even when his minutes tapered off by the time he made it to the 2013 and 2014 Finals, his presence on the bench and in the locker room was critical.

Shaun Livingston - 28 Total Games

Shaun Livingston

Finals Statistics: 6.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG

A 6’7” point guard with exceptional length, Shaun Livingston was a go-to player off the bench for the Golden State Warriors. Whenever Stephen Curry needed a break, Livingston could come in and lead the offense while also creating his own offense from the mid-range. Due to his height, Shaun could shoot over defenders.

In 28 appearances, Shaun averaged 6.4 PPG on 53.3% from the field while also leading the offense with his playmaking. The lengthy guard won 3 NBA titles in his career with the Warriors, so he retired following the 2019 season with pride in what he accomplished with a dynasty.

Manu Ginobili - 29 Total Games

Manu Ginobili

Finals Statistics: 14.0 PPG, 4.2 PG, 3.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.2 BPG

One of the three star players to appear on this list as a member of the San Antonio Spurs, Manu Ginobili had a very successful NBA career that included 4 NBA titles with the Spurs. Even if Ginobili was mainly the 6th man, his scoring and playmaking ability off the bench was absolutely critical for the franchise. Quite frankly, Ginobili could have been a starter every game.

In 29 appearances, the legendary 6th man averaged 14.0 PPG and 3.5 APG while coming up big in multiple series on both ends of the floor. Whenever Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were hounded by the defense, Manu was always trusted to provide in big moments which is why he is in the Hall of Fame.

Tony Parker - 29 Total Games

Tony Parker

Finals Statistics: 16.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG

The starting point guard for the San Antonio Spurs dynasty, Tony Parker retired from the NBA with an impressive 4 NBA titles and 1 Finals MVP to his name. The speedy Frenchman was exceptional at attacking the basket, making shots from mid-range, and also creating for others. That is why he holds solid averages of 16.5 PPG and 4.5 APG in his Finals career.

The Frenchman won Finals MVP in 2007 for the Spurs when he contributed 24.5 PPG to take down a Cleveland Cavaliers squad led by LeBron James. His partnership with Tim Duncan was almost impossible to defend against on both the perimeter and in the paint, and Parker is yet another player with an impressive 5 NBA Finals appearances.

Dwyane Wade - 29 Total Games

Dwyane Wade

Finals Statistics: 23.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG

Arguably the greatest Miami Heat player of all time, Dwyane Wade was a legend because of his incredible skill and athleticism but his resume boasts an impressive 3 NBA titles and 1 Finals MVP. Due to his winning character and willingness to take a backseat to LeBron James during the “Heatles” era, Wade was simply one of the best performing players in Finals history. Remember, his 2006 Finals series was one of the greatest ever in an individual sense.

Wade dropped 34.7 PPG and 7.8 RPG against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6, singlehandedly taking over the series for his side and winning his first championship. An elite slasher and defender, Wade unsurprisingly appears on this list with 29 total games played in the Finals. He made the Finals four more times with the Miami Heat when LeBron James and Chris Bosh were by his side, winning two and losing two.

6 NBA Finals Appearances

James Jones - 25 Total Games

James Jones

Finals Statistics: 2.0 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.2 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG

James Jones was not a player who featured much in any of the championship sides he played with, as he only played at least 20 minutes three times over 25 appearances. The sharpshooter was not going to be able to get enough open shots in the high-pressure environment of the Finals, a reason why the most three-pointers he hit in a Finals game was three in the 2014 Finals.

Jones competed in the Finals with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers and was a teammate of LeBron James every time he was in the biggest moments of his career. Jones was not going to impact the game on the stat sheet, but his presence as a shooter kept defenders honest at least which is why he appeared in so many games despite hardly playing.

Draymond Green - 28 Total Games

Draymond Green

Finals Statistics: 12.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG

One of the most versatile defenders of all time, Draymond Green is the perfect big man in the modern NBA. He can switch onto guards and forwards and has the aggressiveness to handle bigger players in the post. As the vocal leader and defensive enforcer of the Golden State Warriors dynasty led by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Green was an invaluable contributor to a franchise that has made the Finals six separate times.

In fact, Green has a massive chance to eclipse 30 total games played in the Finals, an achievement that very few players in NBA history have achieved. The former Defensive Player of the Year impacts the game with his playmaking and rebounding just as well as his defense, making him an expected figure on the list of players with the most Finals appearances.

Klay Thompson - 28 Total Games

Klay Thompson

Finals Statistics: 18.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Just like his teammate Draymond Green, Klay Thompson has made 6 Finals appearances with a total of 28 games played. Arguably a top-5 shooter of all time, Klay helped revolutionize the NBA with Stephen Curry. The Warriors are the greatest shooting team ever, and thanks to Klay’s sharpshooting, they can employ one of the most unstoppable offenses ever in terms of off-ball movement and screen actions.

Thompson, over 28 total games played, is averaging a career 18.7 PPG and 4.0 RPG on 45.3% shooting from the field and 41.2% from three. The shooting guard’s elite shooting has helped the Warriors blow away most of the competition in the playoffs, as Klay also holds the record for most threes in a playoff run with 98 makes in 2016. Klay will likely break more records by the time his career is over because only Stephen Curry has the argument for being a player who is more unstoppable with a rhythm going.

Stephen Curry - 29 Total Games

Stephen Curry

Finals Statistics: 26.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Stephen Curry has 3 NBA titles to his name, and he has been the head of the snake that has bit most of the competition over the last decade. The Warriors employ one of the most unstoppable offenses in NBA history, and that is thanks to the sublime shooting of the two-time MVP. Say what you will about Curry’s slender physique or lack of defensive impact, the point guard knows how to dominate a game with his shooting.

In fact, only three players have appeared in more total games over the 6 Finals appearances that Curry has made. If the 2022 Finals go to a 7-game series, Steph has a chance to lead the pack with 6 Finals appearances and 35 total games played. Steph is averaging 26.7 PPG on 42.3% from the field and 39.0% from three, elite shooting numbers from the undisputed greatest marksman to have ever lived.

Tim Duncan - 34 Total Games

Tim Duncan

Finals Statistics: 20.8 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 2.4 BPG

Legendary San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan dominated the paint for such a long time, it is amazing to consider the first Finals he played in was in 1999 and the last one was in 2014. That shows the leadership abilities of The Big Fundamental, one of the most impactful two-way stars ever. With Duncan at the helm, the Spurs won 5 NBA titles in 6 appearances with the only loss coming as a result of the superteam Miami Heat led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

Duncan’s averages of 20.8 PPG, 13.3 RPG, and 2.4 BPG are certainly impressive, and he had managed to create a dynasty alongside head coach Gregg Popovich, point guard Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. With 34 total games played, only two players have played in more games than Timmy and they happen to be the most accomplished duo in NBA history.

Scottie Pippen - 35 Total Games

Scottie Pippen

Finals Statistics: 19.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Scottie Pippen does not get enough credit for being one of the most impactful two-way wings in NBA history, and that was because he happened to play alongside The GOAT in Michael Jordan. Pippen won 6 NBA titles alongside Jordan, and it wasn’t until he became a superstar that the Bulls started dominating the East and eventually the Finals. In fact, Pippen never lost a single Finals, going 6-0.

Pippen’s stats stand at 19.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.9 SPG, and 1.1 BPG with showcase his elite two-way dominance. The forward was not only a lockdown defender but a talented playmaker who helped Michael Jordan terrorize defenses. There isn’t a Chicago Bulls dynasty without Pippen, and that is an absolute fact.

Michael Jordan - 35 Total Games

Michael Jordan 1998

Finals Statistics: 33.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG

The GOAT, Michael Jordan went 6-0 in the Finals and captured 6 titles with 6 Finals MVPs. It is hard to find a player more accomplished than the shooting guard, outside of Bill Russell, and only one player is ahead of him with more total Finals appearances. With Jordan’s ability to score anytime he wanted to and also lock up opposing guards, the Bulls had a dynasty that is almost incomparable (besides the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics).

Jordan averaged a ridiculous 33.6 PPG with 6.0 RPG and 6.0 APG, while also stealing the ball 1.8 times per game. Michael famously shut down opposing guards on a consistent basis and was always the go-to player in the clutch on the other end. Many might believe that MJ had the most Finals appearances for a non-Celtic and non-Laker, but that record is held by none other than a Golden State Warriors player.

7 Finals Appearances

Andre Iguodala - 32 Total Games

Andre Iguodala

Finals Statistics: 9.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Thanks to the 2022 Finals, Andre Iguodala holds the record for most Finals appearances by a non-Celtics and non-Lakers player. Six of his seven Finals appearances have come as a member of the Golden State Warriors, with Iggy winning 3 NBA titles and 1 Finals MVP. His 2015 series was the perfect example of Iggy’s two-way impact because he prevented LeBron James from winning the series singlehandedly while also providing clutch offense.

Iguodala also had a Finals appearance in 2020 when he was a member of the Miami Heat team that played the Los Angeles Lakers in the “bubble”. Even if Iguodala did not play a massive role, as he never played more than 26 minutes in a single game, his presence as a defender and clutch shot-maker was valuable. Overall, Andre Iguodala has the most Finals appearances by a non-Celtic and non-Laker.

Credit for the idea: Slam Studios/Instagram


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