Spurs-Heat is the sixth time since the NBA-ABA merger that the same two teams have met in the NBA Finals in back-to-back years

The NBA can sometimes seem a little repetitive. Case in point? The champions since 2000 are: Lakers, Lakers, Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, Spurs, Heat, Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, Lakers, Mavericks, Heat, Heat. Not a ton of variety there, right? And now, we have the same two teams — Spurs and Heat — meeting in the NBA Finals again. Last year’s Finals was great (in many parts) and trifling (in some others), but here we are, doing it again.

Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, this has happened five other times, actually.

1978-1979 NBA Finals: Sonics/Bullets. (Right before the Bird-Magic era took over.)

1982-1983 NBA Finals: Lakers and Sixers.

1984-1985 NBA Finals: Lakers and Celtics (height of this rivalry, probably.)

1988-1989 NBA Finals: Lakers and Pistons (when the rivalry transitioned because of the emergence of the Bad Boys.)

1997-1998 NBA Finals: Bulls and Jazz.

Each of the above Finals was notable for something in the second go-round: that’s the last title the Sonics ever won (they don’t even exist anymore!), the only time the Sixers ever solved the Lakers (thank you, Moses Malone), the first time the Lakers solved the Celtics (in Boston, no less!), the end of Kareem, and the end (for a minute) of MJ. Does that all mean this is LeBron’s last go-round in Miami? Probably not. But it would be the NBA’s first three-peat in 12 years, and that’s something (or could it be Duncan’s final shimmy-shakes? Now that’s maybe something.)

Ted Bauer