Michael Finley (born March 6, 1973 in Melrose Park, Illinois0 was obtained by the Dallas Mavericks on December 26, 1996 along with A.C. Green, Sam Cassell and a second round draft choice, from the Phoenix Suns, in return for Jason Kidd, Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer.
Finley attended Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois, graduating in 1991. In Finley's senior season, Proviso East won the 1991 IHSA class AA boys basketball tournament and Finley was named to the all-tournament team. Finley's teammates included future NBA draftees Sherrell Ford and Donnie Boyce.
Finley attended the University of Wisconsin where he was named first team All-Big 10 in both 1993 and 1995. He was USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year in 1993 and left school as the 12th all-time leading scorer in the Big 10 conference. He is Wisconsin's all-time leading scorer and was named to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
Drafted by Phoenix in the first round of the NBA draft, Finley had an impressive rookie season, being named to the 1995-96 (finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting) NBA All-Rookie First Team, after averaging fifteen points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He became only the third rookie in Suns history to score over 1,000 points in a season.
Despite his solid play, he was traded by Phoenix to the Mavericks on the day after Christmas in 1996.
In his first season with the Mavericks, he led them in scoring, assists and steals. Along with another ex-Sun Steve Nash and forward Dirk Nowitzki, he became an integral part of the Mavericks' "run and gun" offense in no time, the trio often being called "The Big Three".
In 2000, he was selected to represent the Western Conference in the 2000 All-Star Game, in which he scored eleven points. In 2001 he was again selected to represent the Western Conference on All-Star weekend. He was a member of Team USA at the 2002 World Championship which lost a record three games, failing to win a championship for the first time in a major competition since FIBA opened international competitions to NBA players.
Finley began to play more of a supporting role as he aged and teammate Dirk Nowitzki blossomed, but he remained a clutch player for the Mavericks. For financial reasons, however, in 2005 he was waived by Dallas to avoid luxury taxes (as part of the league's new labor agreement) on his $51.8 million USD salary over the next three years. He still ranks high on several franchise career categories including: 5th all-time in points (12,389), rebounds (3,245), assists (2,393) and games played (626).
Finley became an unrestricted free agent and after being aggressively pursued by high-caliber teams like Detroit, Miami, Minnesota and Phoenix, he elected to remain in Texas with the San Antonio Spurs. In San Antonio, he has adapted extremely well to a secondary role as Manu Ginobili's backup. The Spurs were knocked out of the 2006 NBA Playoffs by his former team one year after he made the switch.
Finley today remains an important part of the San Antonio Spurs roster.