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Spurs 50 for 50, number 30: Michael Finley

A star with the Suns and Mavs, Finley embraced a more specialized role on a Spurs title team and made his own contributions to both rivalries.

San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

This year the Spurs are celebrating their 50th season in San Antonio. There have been many highs and a few lows. One trademark of the San Antonio Spurs has been their culture and their consistency. The keys to those qualities lie in their players. Always noted for development as well as being ahead of the curve on scouting international players, the Spurs way has made the franchise one of the most successful of all time. As we look back on the Silver & Black, we recognize the top 50 players in Spurs history. Each day, we will move up the countdown.

30 - Michael Finley

A Badger legend, Mavs great, and 2nd runner-up to Rookie of the Year as a Sun, Michael Finley came to San Antonio approaching the twilight of his career, still playing 347 of his 1103 NBA games as a Spur and winning a championship in 2007.

A career starter up until his arrival in South Texas, Finley embraced a more specialized role as a 32-year-old, upping his three-point rate and shifting between Manu Ginobili’s table setter in the starting lineup and key reserve. The transition from featured star to cog in the Big Three machine isn’t for everyone — Robert Horry warned Finley of the team’s “robotic” nature — but Finley excelled within the Spurs system and still sits 10th all time on the franchise leader board in threes made.

Finley’s past as a Sun and Maverick makes for a a fun wrinkle in his Spurs career, given the rivalries at play when he switched to Silver and Black. He got an immediate initiation in 2006 with a 2nd round series against Dallas, a classic that went the distance, had Finley on the receiving end of a cheap shot from former teammate Jason Terry, and ended in pure heartbreak. He’d face the Mavs in the playoffs a couple of more times, but dealt arguably his biggest blow in 2008 against Phoenix with this equalizer (which set up a Tim Duncan classic after regulation).

Finley was a key contributor in the Spurs’ 2007 title run, which ended in a cakewalk against the Cavs but involved harder fought matchups earlier on against the Nuggets and Suns, in which Finley was among the team’s scoring leaders. In their round 1 elimination of Phoenix, Finley put up 26 points and a record that still stands today, a franchise-best 8 three pointers (on 9 attempts).

Finley’s averages as a Spur of 9.3 points and 3 rebounds pale in comparison to his career numbers — and that was exactly the point when he signed at 32. He adapted to a familiar path and in the process made it his own, eschewing individual stats for the chase for a ring. And he got one.

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