If history is any lesson, expect something amazing to happen in this year's Finals

LeBron James swatted Andre Iguodala’s shot on June 19, 2016. This kept Game 7 of the NBA Finals tied, at 89. LeBron James and the Cavs would win the game and the NBA championship. (0:35).Already, we know that the 2021 NBA Finals will produce a champion who has not lifted the Larry O'Brien Trophy for 50 years. In their 53-year history, the Phoenix Suns have not won a title. The last time the NBA champion was the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971. This edition of the Finals will be historic. But if history is any indication, NBA fans are in good company. The NBA Finals produce something special every five years.In 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended a 52-year drought in title wins by becoming the first team in the Finals to overcome a 3-1 deficit. The Dallas Mavericks won the franchise's first title against the Miami Heat's famed Big Three in 2011. This victory vengeance was five years after a loss to the Heat, which had been a 2-0 defeat to the Mavericks.We wait to see what the Suns and Bucks do this year. Let's take a look back at the amazing feats of years gone by.Continue reading: Full coverage of the 2021 NBA Finals2016: Cavaliers defeat Warriors 4-3.play 0:35 LeBron's amazing block secures Cavs' first championship LeBron James chased and swatted Andre Iguodala’s shot with less than two minutes left to keep Game 7 tied at 89. LeBron and his Cavs team would win the game and the NBA championship.The BlockThe Shot.The Stop.In 2016, the Cavaliers' 2016 classic against the Golden State Warriors was more than just those three late plays. It was about the drama of watching a series already full of drama, come down to the last minutes of Game 7, with so much on the outcome. This was one of the most memorable games in basketball history. We're probably talking about a different outcome if one of those plays had gone in Warriors' direction. Let's say J.R. Smith fouls Andre Iguodala, Kyrie Irving's sidestep jumper fails, or Stephen Curry manages to evade Kevin Love who is guarding him one on one beyond the 3-point line.Unfathomable ripple effects can result from the opposite outcome. Is Kevin Durant going to join the Warriors? James leaves Cleveland, but does he ever win the title in his hometown? Are the 2015-16 Warriors unanimously voted the greatest team ever? Barbershop debate is allowed on all of this. It's clear that the more than 30 million domestic viewers who watched this game were captivated by it.-- Dave McMenamin2011: Heat defeats Mavericks 4-2Dwyane Wade was the Mavericks' arch nemesis from the Finals five-years earlier. He held his post-shooting position for a few more beats after swinging a corner 3, right in front the Mavericks bench. LeBron James ran over and jogged in front of Wade, kicking Wade in the chest.Playoff Basketball Battle: Compete for $30,000 during the NBA postseason Take Your PicksThe Heat led by 15 points with 7:14 left in Game 2. They were well on their way towards a 2-0 series lead. The celebration, which began with the "Not one...not two...not three...not four..." pep rally/news conference shortly after James and Chris Bosh, free agents, went to South Beach to join Wade, had now resumed.The Mavs were furious at what they considered to be taunting and ruined the party. Dallas won Game 2 with a 22-5 win, highlighted by Dirk Nowitzki driving the car and spinning for a lefty layup.This wasn't the first time Dallas felt disrespected in series. Nowitzki and his team were furious when they saw Wade and James coughing and playing sick after Miami's Game 5 shootaround. They mocked the storyline that Nowitzki played despite having a fever of 102 degrees in Dallas' series-tying win. The other storyline from Game 4 was James being held to just eight points on three-of-11 shooting.The Mavericks won three of the last games of the series. Jason Terry, who was the only remaining player from the 2006 team, scored 27 points to win Game 6. Mark Cuban and his Mavericks party continued until dawn at Club Liv Miami Beach. Nowitzki enjoyed a bottle of Ace of Spades champagne, which was roughly the size of his Finals MVP trophy.Tim MacMahon2006: Heat defeats Mavericks 4-2Dwyane Wade, his Heat teammates, were down by double digits in the fourth quarter and faced the possibility of losing 3-0 to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. Wade led the charge in the Heat's win 98-96. Wade's 42-point game 3 win sparked a four-game run in which Wade scored 36 points in a Game 4 win, 43 in Game 5 overtime (including the decisive free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining), and 36 in Game 6 closing win. He also made four clutch free throws.He was the sixth player to score multiple 40-point Finals games (LeBron James became the seventh). His 21 free throws in Game 5 remain the highest number of Finals games. He was the Finals MVP, becoming the fifth-youngest winner of the award. Kawhi Leonard made it sixth in 2014. This helped Shaquille win his fourth and final championship.Andrew Lopez2001: Lakers defeat the 76ers 4-1play 0:21 Allen Iverson leaps over Tyronn Lue during the NBA Finals Game 1 in 2001. Allen Iverson climbed over Tyronn Lue, and then famously stepped on Lue as he led the 76ers to victory over the Lakers.If Thanos was a NBA team, he'd be the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. managed to have Shaquille and Kobe Bryant at their peak, while Phil Jackson pulled the strings to lift a talented group of role players. It's no surprise that L.A. went undefeated in the playoffs leading up the Finals. Thanos lost to Allen Iverson. There is no need for a superhero competition. A.I. A.I.The Philadelphia 76ers won one of their last games against the defending champions, but it was still a great game. Iverson scored 48 points for Philly and played 52 minutes of 53 minutes. This prevented the Lakers becoming the first NBA team to reach 15-0 in the playoffs. Shaq and Kobe would win the second of their three titles by defeating the Sixers in five games. But Iverson's footprint from Game 1 -- that is, the stepover on Tyronn Lue - remains frozen in the time.McMenamin1996: Bulls defeat SuperSonics 4-2.The Chicago Bulls made it to the playoffs thanks to 72 regular-season wins, a NBA record. They also had T-shirts that said "Don't mean anything without the ring." They knew that the accomplishment would be significant only if they win a championship.The Bulls had won the Eastern Conference playoffs, including a four-game sweep of an Orlando Magic team, led by young stars Shaquille and Anfernee O'Neal, as well as former teammate Horace Grant who knocked them out when Michael Jordan retired.The Finals saw Chicago paired against the Seattle SuperSonics. They were led by young stars Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, and coached and managed by George Karl, a North Carolina alum. Jordan was the star of the series, scoring 27.3 points per games in a six-game win and earning the fourth Finals MVP award of his career. These Bulls are often regarded as the greatest team ever because of their Finals win and regular-season dominance. After a record 73 regular-season wins in 2015-16, the Warriors couldn't make it to the Finals. They lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 7 games into 2016.-- Nick Friedell1991: Bulls beat Lakers 4-1Michael Jordan's early career had one problem. He was not a great scorer and couldn't lead his team to a championship. The Bulls could not get past the Detroit Pistons of the Eastern Conference and it was doubtful that they would ever make it to the top on the biggest stage.The core of Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant remained strong and reached the top in a remarkable run through 1991 playoffs. This included a four-game sweep by the same Pistons at the Eastern Conference finals as well as a five-game blitz by Magic Johnson and the Lakers at the Finals.Jordan was supported by a solid, versatile defense and took the NBA's title from Johnson. Jordan was the most famous player on the most dominant team in the game, scoring 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, and 6.6 rebounds during the Finals.Friedell1986: Rockets beat the Celtics 4-21986 NBA Finals was the first year in NBA history that the league's championship round was officially referred to as "the Finals". It was previously known as the "NBA World Championship Series". It was also the last time Larry Bird would be crowned a NBA champion.The '86 Boston Celtics are one of the most storied teams in NBA history. They featured a starting roster that included four future Hall of Famers -- Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish -- along with future Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and Hall of Famer Bill Walton. Houston was, however, built around the "Twin Towers", 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson, and future Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon.Houston was unable to overcome the power of the Celtics. The Rockets won a few games in Houston, but the Celtics beat the Rockets in Boston in Game 6, to end the series and give Bird his third championship.The Celtics also won Game 6, achieving the best home record in NBA history. Boston was 40-1 at home in the regular season, a record that was also shared by the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs. The Celtics were then perfect at 10-0 at home in postseason.Tim Bontemps1981: Rockets beat Celtics 4-2The Houston Rockets ended the season at 40-42. But, thanks to Moses Malone's power, they made the astonishing run to the Finals. They were the last team with a losing record to that point. They beat the Lakers, the reigning champion, in the first round. But, they were helped in part by the best-of-3 opening round format. In seven games, they beat George Gervin and Spurs, setting up the bizarre situation of playing the Kansas City Kings with a losing record.This set up a David-vs.-Goliath matchup against the Celtics in the Finals. They had the best record in league play. The Celtics were overwhelming favorites with their Big Three -- Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, and Larry Bird. The Rockets won four games and took a 2-2 split into game 5. Malone seemed a bit agitated after Game 4. He said, "Boston isn't that great" and, "I could get four men off the street in Petersburg [Virginia Malone's hometown] to beat them."Bird scored a few clutch points from Bird in Game 6, and the Celtics won Game 5. Boston took home its 14th title, Bird's first.-- Royce Young1976: Suns defeated by Celtics 4-2The Boston Celtics won another NBA title by beating the Phoenix Suns in six games. However, the series will be remembered for Game 5, a triple-overtime thriller that the two teams played at the Boston Garden. This game is widely considered one of the greatest in NBA history.It is not just because it went to three overtimes but also because of the unusual things that allowed it to be extended multiple times. The game was tied at 95 in the fourth quarter. Celtics forward Paul Silas seemed to request a timeout, while Boston did not have one. However, the officials missed it. The Suns could have won the game in regulation if they had granted the timeout. This would have given Phoenix a 3-2 lead.However, this was nothing compared to the last 20 seconds of overtime. Both teams exchanged possession multiple times. In the last six seconds of the game, three shots were taken. One by Phoenix's Gar Hether at the buzzer. This sent the game into overtime. The court was flooded with fans, which caused a delay of several minutes. Phoenix's Paul Westphal called a timeout, when his team did not have one, which resulted in a technical foul. However, the Suns were able to inbound the ball from the midcourt, setting up Heard’s shot.The Celtics won the game in the third overtime, and then they took the title back to Phoenix in Game 6.Bontemps1971: Bullets defeated by BucksThe Bucks had another MVP big man fifty years ago, when Giannis Antetokounmpo was roaming the Milwaukee's paint. Lew Alcindor (later to go by Kareem Abdel-Jabbar) was in his second season as a Bucks player during the 1970-71 season. Oscar Robertson and Alcindor were unstoppable, as the Bucks paired them together.NBA on ESPN+ Access to exclusive series, premium articles by our NBA insiders, and the entire 30 for 30 library. Get ESPN+ now and unlock all it has to offer.Milwaukee had the best record in the league, winning 66 games and a winning streak of 20 games. Alcindor won the first six MVP awards, leading the Bucks to playoff victories over San Francisco's Lakers and Wilt Chamberlain’s Los Angeles Lakers. Both won those series 4-1.They were defeated by the Baltimore Bullets led by Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld. The Bullets' stars were not up to the task and could not compete with Alcindor Robertson, Bob Dandridge and Bob Dandridge. Alcindor scored 27 points per game and grabbed 18.5 rebounds to win the Finals MVP award. Robertson averaged 23.5 points and 9.5 assists in his 11th season. Dandridge was 20.3 points and 9.8 boards. Alcindor was beaten by the 6-foot-7 Unseld, who had a triple-double with 11 points and 23 rebounds as well as 10 assists in Game 4. The Bucks won the sweep, marking only the second sweep in Finals history.The Bucks won the championship in their third season of the league, the fastest ever by an expansion team to win a title in major professional sports history.Youngmisuk1966: Lakers defeat Celtics 4-3For many reasons, the 1966 NBA Finals was historic. The Celtics made it their 10th consecutive NBA Finals appearance. This record will be unmatched. It was also notable when the legendary coach Red Auerbach, who had already stated that the 1966 season would not be his last, declared that Bill Russell, the future Hall of Famer, would serve as the team's coach. This made him the first Black head coach of the NBA.However, the drama didn't stop there. The rivals met in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year. This was part of six series that would see Boston win six games in nine years.Auerbach was crowned a champion after the Celtics won Game 7 95-93, with Russell scoring 25 points and Russell scoring 32 rebounds. The Lakers' determination was remarkable. No team would reach Game 7 after being behind 3-1 in Finals, until fifty years later when LeBron James led Cavaliers to the title.Bontemps