James Jones one of several non–stars to become NBA Finals regular
By now, everyone knows that Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James has made six consecutive NBA Finals. But don’t forget about James Jones.
Jones is also on his way to the NBA’s championship for the sixth straight year, though he has understandably been overshadowed by his superstar teammate.
As the case of Jones indicates, not every player to make an unusually high number of NBA Finals has been a superstar. Here are a few non–star players in NBA history, including James Jones, that have made at least five NBA Finals.
Note: An asterisk denotes an NBA title.
James Jones (2011, 2012*, 2013*, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Jones may have only averaged 3.7 points, 0.3 assists and 1.0 rebounds per game this season, but it’s still pretty impressive that the NBA veteran has managed to reach six straight NBA Finals—even if he did it by attaching himself to LeBron James.
He was a member of the Miami Heat from 2008–2014, making four consecutive finals from the 2010–11 season to the 2013–12 season and winning two rings with the team. Jones signed with the Cavaliers in August 2014 and has now advanced to the finals to take on the Golden State Warriors for the second year in a row.
This year, Jones joined James, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Tom Sanders and Frank Ramsey as the only players in league history to reach six consecutive NBA finals.
Udonis Haslem (2006*, 2011, 2012*, 2013*, 2014)
Miami Heat fans revere Udonis Haslem. The Heat signed the University of Florida standout in 2003 after he went undrafted, and he has been with the team ever since.
He reached his first NBA Finals with Miami in 2006, scoring 17 points in Game 6 to help Miami win its first title. He advanced to the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Finals with the Heat, picking up two more rings to make him a three-time NBA champion.
Horace Grant (1991*, 1992*, 1993*, 1995, 2001*, 2004)
While some may argue that Horace Grant’s claim to fame is being referenced by rapper P. Diddy (who went by Puff Daddy at the time) in "It's All About The Ben Benjamins (Remix)," the center also had a pretty impressive NBA career. He reached six NBA Finals over the course of his 17-year career, winning three titles with the Chicago Bulls from 1991-1993 and one with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001.
Grant, of course, reached so many Finals because he played alongside NBA greats like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, who inevitably stole the spotlight.
Robert Horry (1994*, 1995*, 2000*, 2001*, 2002*, 2005*, 2007*)
In 16 seasons in the NBA, Robert Horry earned an impressive seven championship rings, more than any player in NBA history excluding those who played for the Boston Celtics in the 1960’s. He won the championship each time he appeared in the Finals, earning titles with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.
Horry is known as “Big Shot Rob” for a reason, as it’s entirely possible a different team would have lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy if not for clutch Horry shots. But he certainly wouldn’t have been in position to make those shots without his superstar teammates over the years, including Hakeem Olajuwon, O’Neal, Bryant, Tim Duncan and David Robinson.
Tom "Satch" Sanders (1961*, 1962*, 1963*, 1964*, 1965*, 1966*, 1968*, 1969*)
The 1960’s Celtics are legendary. The greatest dynasty the NBA has ever seen was full of Hall of Famers like Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek and Tom Heinsohn.
But not every player on the Celtics was a Hall of Fame player. Tom Sanders—who was inducted to the Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2011—averaged 9.6 points per game in 24.2 minutes per game over his career. Sanders picked up eight championship rings during his 13 seasons with the team. Not bad, Satch.