Salley: Just Getting To Finals Not Enough For Raptors

Reaching the NBA Finals is an accomplishment, John Salley says, but it's not enough unless you win a championship

The DA Show
June 04, 2019 - 1:19 pm

John Salley had a storied NBA career. The four-time NBA champion played for the “Bad Boys” Pistons, was a member of the 72-win Chicago Bulls, and won a chip with Shaq and Kobe in L.A.

Maybe you knew all of that. What you didn’t know, perhaps, is that Salley played for Toronto during the Raptors’ inaugural season in 1995-96.

“I was on that first team when Isiah Thomas brought me in from Miami,” Salley said on The DA Show, pausing before cracking a joke. “I begged him to leave me in Miami.”

Almost a quarter of a century later, Salley is watching the Raptors play in their first NBA Finals.

"These guys have to (close the deal),” he said. “It’s an accomplishment getting all the way to the Finals, but it’s not a good-enough accomplishment until you win the championship.”

That’s right. Salley that just getting to the Finals is “definitely not” enough for Toronto.

“It is not at all,” he said. “Getting there is not enough. That’s like being in the desert for 10 days and then you say, ‘Oh, my God! Water!’ And then there’s a wall and you can’t get over it. That’s a waste. You might as well have just gone home early. . . . I’ve been in that position. I lost in the championship, Game 7, and all we could think about all summer is coming back and playing again and winning. And you don’t get a chance a lot of times to come back. There’s a lot changes. Teams get better. Players get contract problems or hurt. There’s a lot happening.”

The Raptors won Game 1 of the series before letting one get away in Game 2. Still, Salley believes they’ll win the series.

“I have the Raptors winning this,” he said. “The team that has the most nothing to lose should work the hardest. . . . The Raptors held them to 109 points two games in a row, and that team is usually getting over 110 points a game. So to hold them under their average, you did a good job. You just need to score more than they do."