Even before the 2013 NBA Finals began, people had already narrowed the Finals MVP candidates down to two guys: the Spurs’ Tony Parker and the Heat’s LeBron James. The thinking here was pretty simple: San Antonio doesn’t win if Parker isn’t at his best, and Miami doesn’t win if LeBron isn’t at his best.
Of course, the interesting thing to note here is that, if one of these two does win the Finals MVP Award, he’ll join a very exclusive club: players who have been named NBA Finals MVP more than once. In the 44 years that the award has been handed out, only nine players have won it more than once. Hell, the guy the award is named after, Bill Russell, never won it at all—though in fairness it only existed for the last year of his career.
In any case, it seems likely that we’ll have a new member of the multiple Finals MVP club after this year. But before we get there, lets take a look at the current members of this club to get some historical context, shall we?
Willis Reed is a Knicks legend, but his two Finals MVP Awards are a bit questionable. The first, which came in 1970 against the Lakers? Okay, maybe. He did lead his team in scoring through the first three games. But after that he was limited by a hamstring injury. So really, he probably just got the MVP award for walking out onto the court in Game 7 when nobody was expecting him to play.
As for his second Finals MVP in 1973, which also came against the Lakers—well, that one could just easily have gone to Dave DeBusschere, Earl Monroe, or Walt Frazier. Reed led the Knicks in scoring just once in that five-game series and averaged 16.4 points. Meanwhile, Frazier averaged 16.6 per game, Monroe averaged 16, and DeBusschere led the team in scoring in two of the five games.
9. Willis Reed (2)
Hakeem got his two Finals MVP Awards with the back-t0-back Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995, and both times he was the obvious choice. In '94 Olajuwon averaged 26.85 points, 9.14 rebounds, and 3.86 blocks in seven games against the Knicks. Then, in '95, he was even better in Houston's four-game sweep of the Magic, averaging 32 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2 steals per game while schooling a young Shaquille O'Neal.
8. Hakeem Olajuwon (2)
Larry Bird won three championships with the Celtics in 1981, 1984, and 1986. The first came in just his second year in the league, before he'd really hit his prime. However, in the epic '84 Finals against Magic Johnson and the Lakers, the Celtics prevailed and Bird won his first Finals MVP. Then, in the six-game '86 Finals against the Rockets, Bird dominated once again to earn his second Finals MVP.
7. Larry Bird (2)
The Black Mamba may have five rings, but he's only got two Finals MVP Awards. Those came not during the Lakers' three-peat in the early 2000s, but in 2009 and 2010 against the Magic and Celtics. Somebody else won the Finals MVP Award during the three-peat years.
6. Kobe Bryant (2)
Kareem won his first Finals MVP Award in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks—back when he was still Lew Alcindor. He won his second Finals MVP—as Kareem Abdul Jabbar this time— in 1985 with the Lakers. That year, Magic Johnson and James Worthy would also have been worthy candidates for the award, but the 37-year-old Kareem completely dominated Game 2 and Game 3 against the Celtics, throwing in a combined 56 points and 31 rebounds.
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2)
Future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan has four rings and three NBA Finals MVP Awards. In those MVP years—1999, 2003, and 2005—the guy averaged 15.05 rebounds and 23.67 points over 18 games.
Now that is clutch.
4. Tim Duncan (3)
The reason Kobe only has two Finals MVP Awards? Shaquille O'Neal. During the Lakers three-peat from 2000-2002, O'Neal definitely made his case as the most dominant big man of all-time by averaging 15.2 rebounds and 35.86 points over 15 games.
So, Kobe was great and all, but the early 2000s Lakers were Shaq's team.
3. Shaquille O'Neal (3)
The amazing thing about Magic Johnson is not that he has three Finals MVPs, but that he only has three (1980, 1982, and 1987). The guy won five NBA titles, and in every single one of them you could have made the case for him as Finals MVP. Sure, Worthy was worthy in '88, as was Kareem in '85. But so was Magic. He consistently scored 20+ points per game while dishing the ball better than anyone in the history of the game.
2. Magic Johnson (3)
There are lots of reasons why Michael Jordan is considered the greatest basketball player of all-time. However, perhaps nothing speaks to his dominance more than this stat: six NBA Championships, six Finals MVP Awards.
Now, Jordan didn't win his first title until age 27, just like LeBron. But King James still has his work cut out for him if he really wants to be compared to MJ.
1. Michael Jordan (6)
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