For the last five seasons, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and a few members of his coach staff have been in the NBA Finals. As impressive of a feat as that is, there’s one person outside of their coaching staff that’s done it, too: Phil Handy, who served as an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers during their Finals runs from 2015 to 2018, and for the reigning champion Toronto Raptors last season.
This season, it looked like Handy was on the verge of making it six consecutive trips to the Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers, but due to the indefinite suspension of the NBA season, that streak is in jeopardy, and Handy isn’t thrilled about it. During an interview with Allie Cliffton of Spectrum SportsNet, Handy was candid about how much he wants to be in the Finals again this season:
“Well, for selfish reasons, I was pissed — my own selfish reasons. Aside from our team and what we were trying to accomplish, man, I want to keep my streak alive. I’ve been to the Finals five straight times. I was looking forward to having the opportunity to make it six.”
Handy also told a hilarious story about his ongoing friendly rivalry with James over who will end their careers with the longest Finals streak:
“Listen, it’s over. Last year, when I was in Toronto, and we won the Eastern Conference, I FaceTimed ‘Bron right after the championship game and said jokingly, ‘There’s a new king in the East!’ I was just playing. Man, that man’s been two what? — eight straight finals? That’s unheard of.”
If Handy wants to catch James, he needs to make three more trips to the Finals. Luckily for Handy, James still has three more years on his contract with the Lakers. As long as they’re both in Los Angeles, history tells us that the Lakers will have as good of a shot as any team in the league to make the Finals.
There’s also the off-chance that James deliberately ends Handy’s streak at seven, which is a level of pettiness I’d have to respect.