Sure, the Mavericks might have saved their chances of winning a championship with their improbable rally from a 15 point deficit to tie the NBA Finals at 1-1, but perhaps more notable was the unlikely Game 2 presence of Brian Cardinal. In the second quarter, Rick Carlisle went all the way to the end of the bench to bring Cardinal in for Brendan Haywood. Cardinal went on to log one minute and wasted no time by aggressively face guarding Mike Bibby on a three point attempt. Odds are, Cardinal's brief performance didn't impress Carlisle enough to give him anymore playing time in the series. If that's the case, Cardinal finds himself on a rather eclectic list of players who have played one career minute in the NBA Finals since 1999:
Michael Doleac - The 6'11" Utah product played one minute for Miami in their 2006 match-up with the Mavericks. His other Finals contributions include chest bumping Dwyane Wade a lot and laughing at all of Jason Kapono's jokes on the bench, even the one's that were clearly over the line.
Tamar Slay - Some fun facts about Tamar Slay: His middle name is Ulysses. He was an original Charlotte Bobcat. He played in Israel in 2005, and was possibly mistaken for Tamir "The Jewish Jordan" Goodman. And he played one minute for the Nets in their 2003 Finals match-up with the Spurs.
Steve Smith - Yes, that Steve Smith. Perhaps it's surprising to have a former All-Star on this list, but Steve could never get the Heat, Hawks, or Blazers over the hump while in his prime. He finally got his name on the board with the Spurs in 2003, playing a minute in the decisive Game 6 of the Finals and even managing a field goal attempt. Take that, Tamar Slay!
Mitch Richmond - The MVP of this list, Mitch paid his dues playing most of his career on losing teams in Sacramento and Washington after a promising start in Golden State as a member of Run TMC. In 2001, Mitch had enough and joined the Lakers to finally get himself a ring. Phil Jackson rewarded his service with a minute of action in Game 4 of their sweep against the Nets. It's fitting that the best player on this list is also the only one to score in his brief NBA Finals window, as Mitch made his only field goal attempt. Now, can anyone verify if that's actually him following me on twitter? (Sup @MitchRock2)
Rick Brunson - The definition of journeyman guard, Brunson played for eight teams in his nine year career, including multiple stints with the Knicks, Blazers, and Bulls. Brunson's 98-99 season with the Knicks was legendarily awful. In 17 games, he shot 29% from the field, 0% from 3, and 28% from the free throw line. However, he did average 3.4 steals per 36 minutes. This impressed Jeff Van Gundy enough to stick him into Game 3 of their Finals match-up with the Spurs for a minute, likely to give a short rest to the two headed point guard-beast that was Charlie Ward and Chris Childs.
I'm hoping that Rick Carlisle doesn't get an itchy substitution finger again for the remainder of the finals, or lets Ian Mahinmi get some playing time instead, so this post wasn't written for naught. But if so, Brian Cardinal could be in even more exclusive company, joining former New York Knick and Phoenix Sun Jerrod Mustaf as players who played 1 minute in an NBA Finals game twice!