NBA Finals 2011: All Former Teammate Connections
While looking over these two rosters, I saw that many of the players have been teammates with players sitting on the opposite bench.
Some of these teammate pairings occurred long ago, like Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby. Others were together just recently, like Erick Dampier with the Mavericks. Another instance is when players played ball in college together, like Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller.
There are many former connections between these two ballclubs, and that is why it is shaping up to be a competitive and fun series.
Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby
In the early 2000s, the Sacramento Kings were unstoppable.
With key players in Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac and their superstar Chris Webber, the Kings were competitive on a nightly basis. Not only were they really fun to watch due to their ability to catch fire from beyond the arc, but they were a tough and gritty team.
My favorite memory of these two players battling on the same team was during the 2002 Western Conference Finals. This was Bibby's breakout season, and he just took off against the Lakers. The Sacramento "Queens," as Shaq used to call them, drove Los Angeles to the brink of elimination.
However, the Lakers pulled it out due to some controversial calls (Tim Donaghy?) and went on to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Erick Dampier and the Mavericks
This pairing never really was successful. After having a career year in Golden State, Dallas inked him to a very large contract. However, he just never found his groove and never returned to the semi-dominant player he was in California.
Because of this, he took a ton of criticism due to his lack of athleticism and determination. Most of this criticism came from Charles Barkley.
Even though this did not become a match made in heaven, Dampier served as a formidable center for years to come.
Caron Butler and Dwyane Wade
Before "the Diesel" came to town, the Heat were a really fun team to watch. Powered by their athleticism and youth, the Heat were on their way to stardom. The cornerstones of the pre-Shaq Heat were a lanky Lamar Odom, a very raw Caron Butler and a talented, young Dwyane Wade. Behind these three, coach Stan Van Gundy was quite successful with the Heat.
However, the Shaq trade shipped Butler and Odom to Los Angeles. Butler then found his way to Washington, where he would become an All Star before landing in Dallas.
Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion
Shawn Marion united with Dwyane Wade due to the huge trade that swapped "the Matrix" and Shaq. This match never quite lived up to the hype, and that is why the Heat sent Marion to the Raptors for Jermaine O'Neal.
None of these trades really worked out for either team, as both O'Neals and Marion's were past their primes. Nonetheless, Wade and Marion formed a decent duo in South Beach.
DeShawn Stevenson and Mike Miller
Mike Miller and DeShawn Stevenson were teammates with the Washington Wizards. Neither of these players made huge impacts on the hardwood together, but they did stir some controversy.
Supposedly, Stevenson saw Miller wearing a pair of LeBron James' Nike Zoom Soldier III and told Miller they don't wear those shoes here.
This started a "rivalry" between James and Stevenson. Now they are on opposite benches, and I bet they both remember that incident.
Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller
Back in the day, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller actually played on the same college team together. They were quite successful during their reign with coach Billy Donovan but never went all the way due to their loss in the championship game to Jason Richardson's Michigan State.
It has been stated by the duo that they feel like they have unfinished business to deal with since reuniting.
Other Significant Former Teammates
Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, Brendan Haywood—Formed a solid starting lineup with the likes of Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas in Washington.
Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd—Played together in Phoenix in the early 2000s.
Eddie House and Jason Kidd—House has served as Kidd's backup.
Jamaal Magloire—Played for the Mavericks in the 2007-08 season.
Juwan Howard—Played for the Mavericks in the 2007-08 season.