Slamadamonth, SLAM #13: Michael Finley

michael finley

Originally published in SLAM 13

Before last season began, hoops analysts talked about a lot of can’t-miss rookies: Stack, ‘Sheed, Joe Smith, and so on and so forth. One they didn’t mention was Mike Finley.

Funny how things turn out, then, watching the 6-7 swingman re-introduce the Admiral’s face to a basketball.

It was the last regular season hookup between the Suns and Spurs, a couple of weeks before their first-round Playoff tangle. Less than four minutes on the clock. Suns up one. KJ pushes the ball upcourt and dishes to Finley. With Chuck B and Wes Person hangin’ on the wings, the defense splits like Michael and Lisa Marie, and a hole opens up large enough to drive a truck through. Always looking for a clear path to the tin, the rookie from Wisconsin had only one man to beat—yeah, David Robinson.

“The crowd was on edge and ready to explode, but they had no reason to,” Finley recalls. “I just got the pass and went to the basket. I knew that David was going to jump, because he is one of the premier shot blockers in the league, and I just took it up and went over him…brought the house down.”

DynaMike did more than just take it up and over. He cocked it back, back, back, and then whipped it down. Hard.

“When I saw him coming I tried to get up and get it, but he moved the ball around me,” Robinson said after the game “Whew, that was a nice dunk.”

Finley thought so. Flexing, howling and clapping as he headed back on D, he was smacked with a T for taunting. A T that combined with about a dozen replays of the jam on America West Arena’s big screens to keep the crowd on their feet, booing and cheering for the rest of the game. The rookie helped the Admiral win his second straight SlammedOnadaMonth wit’ a stick that was the second-best dunk in AWA history—y’all remember the one KJ dropped on the Dream.

Finley ended up with 26, and much like the Admiral, the Spurs went down. Unfortunately for Finley and the Suns, Robinson and the Spurs got the last laugh.

—Jeramie McPeek