Tyler Herro would probably prefer not to be starting in the NBA Finals. In a perfect world, the Heat would still have Goran Dragic available, and Herro would remain in his bench role, where he has roasted opponents this entire postseason. That would give the Miami Heat their best chance at winning the NBA championship, but at least there's a silver lining for Herro. On Friday, he became the youngest player ever to start an NBA Finals game at 20 years, 256 days old.
The previous record-holder is exactly who you'd suspect: Magic Johnson. In 1980, Johnson helped lead the Lakers to the Finals as a rookie out of Michigan State, where he spent only two collegiate seasons. On the day of Game 1 of that series, Johnson, a full-time Lakers starter as the No. 1 overall pick, was 20 years and 264 days old. They are the only two 20-year-olds to start in the NBA Finals. Tony Parker is the third-youngest player to start a Finals game, but he did so at 21.
This isn't the first time that Herro and Johnson have been linked during this postseason. When Herro scored 37 points in an Eastern Conference finals game, he became on the second rookie to ever do so in the last two rounds of the playoffs. Johnson's 42-point clincher in the 1980 Finals was the first.
Herro didn't enter the NBA with the same fanfare as Johnson, a national champion at Michigan State and top overall pick. Herro went No. 13 and had to fight for his minutes. But as this postseason has proven, he's a future star, just as Johnson was as a rookie. Herro likely won't ever be the player Magic was, but to share any space with him in NBA history is a remarkable achievement that should lead to a great career.