Posted by Neil Paine on May 28, 2011
Finals rematches usually involve a familiar cast of characters with a great deal of bad blood built up over past battles, right? Repeat clashes where any roster change is minimal, and the two teams can draw on that shared experience to develop strategies going forward... Like the 1985 Finals, where the two teams' playoff rosters had 21 common players from the year before.
That's the mental picture we get when we think of a championship rematch, at least. But not this year. There are only four common players between the 2006 and 2011 Finalists' playoff rosters:
Among Finals rematches that took place within 6 seasons of the initial matchup, that's the fewest common players in league history:
|Franchise||Franchise||1st Finals||2nd Finals||Common Players|
Now, one could certainly make the case that Nowitzki and Wade are so important that the lack of commonality is being overstated, but you be the judge -- here are the other Finals with the fewest common elements:
|2006-11 Finals||1981-86 Finals||1963-68 Finals|
|Udonis Haslem||Larry Bird||Elgin Baylor|
|Dirk Nowitzki||Allen Leavell||John Havlicek|
|Jason Terry||Kevin McHale||Sam Jones|
|Dwyane Wade||Robert Parish||Bill Russell|
|Robert Reid||Tom Sanders|
|1950-54 Finals||1962-66 Finals||1970-72 Finals|
|Bill Gabor||Elgin Baylor||Jerry West|
|Slater Martin||Sam Jones||Dick Barnett|
|George Mikan||Bill Russell||Bill Bradley|
|Vern Mikkelsen||Tom Sanders||Wilt Chamberlain|
|Jim Pollard||Jerry West||Dave DeBusschere|
|Dolph Schayes||K.C. Jones||Walt Frazier|
|Paul Seymour||Rudy LaRusso||Happy Hairston|
The only other Finals that really compares is 1986, which also took place 6 seasons after the initial matchup, but only the Rockets really turned their roster over as substantially as Dallas and Miami have -- the Celtics' core group of Hall of Famers (Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish) was still intact from 1981 when they met Houston again in '86.
In truth, compared to Finals rematches of the past, Dallas-Miami is barely a rematch at all. Aside from Nowitzki, Wade, Terry, Haslem, and the fact that American Airlines is going to get great brand exposure again, this might as well be an entirely new matchup.