The 2010 NBA Finals that featured Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers taking on Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics was the culmination of the longest-standing rivalry in the NBA and one of the greatest moments for many fans of the Purple and Gold. The 2021 NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks doesn’t have anywhere close to that level of history but is connected to the 2010 edition in one way.
Unlike 2010, the 2021 NBA Finals will be a crowning moment for one of the biggest stars in the new generation. Either Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo or Suns star Devin Booker will hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and the two are linked to the duo of Bryant and Paul Pierce.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, this is the first time since 2010 in which the leading scorers on both teams are playing on their original team:
The 2021 Finals will be the 1st Finals matchup between leading scorers (Giannis Antetokounmpo & Devin Booker) playing on their 1st NBA team since 2010, when Kobe Bryant & Paul Pierce led their teams. pic.twitter.com/Occla74aSg
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 5, 2021
This era of the NBA is much different from prior generations as player movement is at another level than at any other point in the league’s history. In addition, most NBA stars play for multiple teams throughout their career, making this type of accomplishment something of a rarity.
However, there is one question revolving around this stat which does involve LeBron James during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2015 James led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Technically, that would seem to fall into this category as Cleveland was LeBron’s first team. But with his time on the Miami Heat coming before this second Cavaliers stint, it doesn’t qualify.
Nonetheless, the 2021 NBA Finals is shaping up to be an outstanding showcase for the league’s new generation. Either Antetokounmpo or Booker will experience the greatest moment of their young careers.