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In this post, we will check out the MVPs of previous NBA finals games.
In every NBA finals series, the standout performer is acknowledged via the MVP award. The Most Valuable Player trophy was first introduced in 1969 and it’s a way of marking the best contribution across those final games.
Ironically, that first trophy in 1969 was awarded to Jerry West whose LA Lakers team lost out to the Boston Celtics. This was the first, and so far only occasion when the MVP award was given to a member of the losing side.
Candidates for 2023
The balance of probability states that the recipient of this year’s MVP award will be a part of the winning roster. Current NBA championship odds show that the Boston Celtics are at the top of the outright market, while the chasing pack features the Los Angeles Lakers, the Denver Nuggets, the Phoenix Suns, and the Golden State Warriors.
A number of top performers are featured within those squads, and they have some illustrious names to emulate.
Leading the Way
A select number of players have won the MVP award on more than one occasion. At the very top of the outright list, Michael Jordan leads the way with a staggering six trophies between 1991 and 1998.
Jordan was the star of a strong Chicago Bulls team that dominated the NBA for much of the 1990s. The team has won six NBA Championships and all of those titles came in that seven-year period.
Jordan was instrumental on each occasion, but many feel that his 1993 performance was the best in a final of all time. During the Bulls’ success, he ran in 55 points in one game to drive his Chicago team to the trophy.
Other Multiple MVPs
Behind Michael Jordan at the top of the list, LeBron James is in second place with four MVP awards. James took his quality across multiple franchises and those trophies were split between his time with the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the LA Lakers.
He’s the only player to have won the award with three different teams, and that’s a testament to his brilliance.
Next are three players with three MVP awards each: Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal of the LA Lakers are joined in this section by Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs.
It’s tough to split these three great players in terms of their achievements, but we should mark O’Neal’s incredible feat of winning three consecutive MVP awards between 2000 and 2002. Included in that run is another standout performance that some consider to be the best of all time.
In the 2000 Finals Series against a strong Indiana Pacers side, Shaq Attaq averaged 38 points per game – the second highest in NBA finals history.
Tim Duncan also makes a case for the best MVP performance in the finals when he won his second award with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003. The New Jersey Nets were the beaten finalists for the second year in a row, in a thrilling set of games.
In a tight contest, Duncan made the difference with an average of 24 points and 17 rebounds. He also produced impressive defensive stats to cap a brilliant all-round performance.
Using stats up to and including the end of the 2021/22 NBA season, there are no fewer than seven players with two MVP finals awards. The men in question are Kahwi Leonard, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Willis Reed.
Of those names, Hakeem Olajuwon enjoyed some supreme contributions. He also won the MVP award in successive finals as his Houston Rockets team claimed consecutive championships. Olajuwon was the key to each of those successes and, in the 1995 series, he ran in an impressive average of 33 points and ten rebounds per game.
Earlier, in 1971. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on his way to recording one of the best-ever finals displays. This was just his second season out of college, but he would make an early delivery on his potential, guiding his Milwaukee Bucks team to the title.
Abdul-Jabbar averaged a decent return of 27 points, while his 18 rebounds per game against the Baltimore Bullets make for impressive reading.
While there are some standout performances on this list, there is still room for others to join the schedule of multiple MVP final winners.
The 2023 season has featured some exceptional players and it will all go down to the wire in the next few weeks as the season comes to its conclusion.
Those with the best stats of this campaign include the likes of Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, Anthony Davis of the LA Lakers, and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics. Depending on how their teams finish, each has the ability to write their name into NBA history.
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