Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal is one of the greatest and arguably the most dominant player in the history of the NBA. O’Neal also played for six franchises throughout his 19-year career, which means he has had a plethora of teammates expand throughout the league.
This shows itself with a streak that likely no one knew about, but is truly unbelievable nonetheless and goes to show O’Neal’s reach throughout the NBA. For 37 consecutive years, a former teammate of Shaq’s has made the NBA Finals. But unfortunately, that streak is no more.
According to StatMuse, the Los Angeles Clippers being eliminated from the Western Conference Finals has ended that streak as Rajon Rondo was the last former teammate of O’Neal remaining in this year’s postseason:
One of the greatest streaks in NBA history has come to an end.
A former teammate of Shaq’s had made it to 37 straight NBA Finals. With Rajon Rondo eliminated, that streak is now over.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 1, 2021
What is truly outstanding about this streak is that it begins nearly a decade before O’Neal was even in the NBA. The 1984 Boston Celtics featured rookie forward Greg Kite, who was then a member of the Orlando Magic when they drafted Shaq in 1992. The likes of A.C. Green, John Salle, and Horace Grant all made Finals appearances in the late 1980s and early 1990s before joining O’Neal on the Lakers in the early 2000s.
In the latter years, it was Shaq’s lone season with the Cleveland Cavaliers that has kept his streak going. Obviously LeBron James’ streak of NBA Finals appearances was the major factor, but that Cavaliers team also featured a rookie, Danny Green, who kept the streak alive with his Finals appearance in 2019 as a member of the Toronto Raptors. O’Neal’s connection with Rondo stems from the final season of his career in 2011 with the Boston Celtics.
It is sad to see that this streak has now come to an end, but there are still some players around who start up a new one over the next couple of seasons.
O’Neal wishes he had stayed with Bryant, Lakers for his career
O’Neal leaving the Lakers is what has allowed that streak to go as long as it did, but that move is something that still haunts Shaq to this day.
In a recent podcast appearance, O’Neal admitted that his ego got the better of him during a disagreement with the Lakers and that he would do things differently if he had the chance. O’Neal says that he would have let Kobe take the lead and would have liked to stay with the Lakers for the remainder of his career.
O’Neal remaining with the Lakers would have changed a massive number of things throughout the history of the league, most notably the fortunes of the Lakers’ franchise itself.
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