Winning an NBA Championship is possibly the greatest achievement in the world for an NBA player. After all, it is the eternal goal of every athlete who comes into the league wanting to make a name for themselves.
Winning an NBA title garners tremendous respect from the entire NBA Universe, and puts respect on the name for every player to win. That is why guys like Robert Horry are regarded as legends because he was a part of winning teams multiple times throughout his career despite being a role-player.
It takes something special to be a champion, and only one team out of thirty get to experience this every single year. What is equally as impressive is the stand-out player during a Finals series, in which you capture a Finals MVP Award.
Very few players have managed to achieve this incredible feat, and it is time to list all the Finals MVP winners in chronological order.
Jerry West (1969) Los Angeles Lakers
The first player to capture the award was Jerry West in a losing effort to the Celtics. West averaged 37.9 ppg and 7.4 apg in that series, and managed to capture the award despite falling short in game seven.
Jo Jo White (1976) Boston Celtics
The Celtics won another NBA title with White leading the way against the Phoenix Suns. White was a beast, putting up nearly 22 points per game against the Suns in a series that lasted six games.
Dennis Johnson (1979) Seattle SuperSonics
Johnson led Seattle to a revenge NBA Finals win, defeating the Bullets in a one-sided series. Johnson averaged 22.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6 assists per game to win the title for the SuperSonics.
Magic Johnson (1980) Los Angeles Lakers
Magic’s first Finals MVP came against Philadelphia where he averaged 21.5 points, 8.7 assists, and 11.2 rebounds per game. Magic could not be denied and the Lakers were able to win in six.
Magic Johnson 1982 (Los Angeles Lakers)
Johnson averaged 16 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8 assists per game to lead the Lakers over Philadelphia in six games. Magic was a force with his leadership and ability to control the game from the point guard position, winning his second Finals MVP in three years.
Magic Johnson (1987) Los Angeles Lakers
Magic and the Lakers took on the Boston Celtics once again, this time ending in the Laker’s favor. Magic averaged 26 points, 13 assists, and 8 rebounds per game to win his third Finals MVP Award.
Isiah Thomas (1990) Detroit Pistons
The following season, the Pistons once again were NBA Champions by defeating the Portland Trail Blazers. The Pistons were renowned for their “Bad Boys” style of play, and Isiah Thomas was the leader and the best player in the Finals. Thomas averaged 27.6 points and 7 assists per game to win the Finals MVP Award.
Chauncey Billups (2004) Detroit Pistons
The Pistons were heavy underdogs going into the Finals against Kobe, Shaq, and the Lakers. But the Pistons played suffocating defense all series long and were able to dismantle the Lakers in five games. Billups, the leader of the team, won his first Finals MVP Award.
Tony Parker (2007) San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs once again captured an NBA title, this time with Tony Parker leading the way. The Cleveland Cavaliers had no match for Parker, who ran the show all series long. He averaged 24 points per game en route to his first NBA Finals MVP.
Joe Dumars (1989) Detroit Pistons
The Pistons would not be denied the following year, as Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars were an unstoppable duo en route to their first NBA titles. Dumars was the stand out performer, averaging 27 points and 6 assists per game as the Pistons made handy work by sweeping the Lakers.
Michael Jordan (1991) Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan finally overcame the hump of not winning a ring, after getting beat down by the Pistons and Knicks in the playoffs stages the previous years. MJ took the league by storm, becoming the face of the NBA and winning his first Finals MVP Award by averaging 31.2 points and 11.2 assists per game.
Michael Jordan (1992) Chicago Bulls
Jordan once again captured a Finals MVP Award by defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. MJ put up over 35 points per game, proving once again that he was the face of the NBA – and that it won’t be changing anytime soon.
Michael Jordan (1993) Chicago Bulls
The Bulls won their third title in a row, with Jordan winning his third Finals MVP in a row. Jordan put up 41 points per game over the series, and the poor Phoenix Suns stood no chance against MJs scoring ability. Jordan would soon retire after this amazing performance, however.
Michael Jordan (1996) Chicago Bulls
Jordan returned to basketball following his retirement and was the best player on Earth once again by leading his Bulls team to a 72-win season. MJ was Finals MVP in the series vs SuperSonics, and he captured his fourth award in his career. Unsurprisingly, many more would follow as he would continue for a legendary run.
Michael Jordan (1997) Chicago Bulls
Jordan looked to be on a path towards another 3-peat from the first game of the playoffs, and he made that clear in the Finals. He led the Bulls to a spectacular win over the Utah Jazz, with his infamous “Flu Game” cemented in many people’s memories. There will never be another MJ.
Michael Jordan (1998) Chicago Bulls
Jordan won his incredible sixth Finals MVP Award after countless clutch performances in a series that effectively solidified his stance as the greatest player we will ever see again. MJ was unstoppable, defeating the Utah Jazz in a competitive series.
Dwyane Wade (2006) Miami Heat
Wade had one of the greatest Finals performances we will ever see, averaging an outstanding 34.7 ppg and 7.8 rpg. He could not be slowed down at any moment and captured his first Finals MVP.
Kobe Bryant (2009) Los Angeles Lakers
Bryant won his first Finals MVP, and his fourth NBA title when he overcame the Orlando Magic in five games. Bryant put up 32 points and 7 assists per game and could not be stopped from Game 1. He was on a mission, and he proved he could win without Shaq.
Kobe Bryant (2010) Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant won his second Finals MVP Award without Shaq and his second in a row. He managed to perform well all series long, despite going 6-24 from the field in Game 7 and was the best player on the floor for most of the series.
John Havlicek (1974) Boston Celtics
Celtics legend John Havlicek fought tooth and nail against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and managed to come away with both the Finals MVP and the NBA Championship by averaging a stunning 26 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Rick Barry (1975) Golden State Warriors
Rick Barry is one of the all-time great sharpshooters, as he managed to nail over 44% of his field goals the entire series. He swept away the Washington Bullets by averaging nearly 30 points per game.
Cedric Maxwell (1981) Boston Celtics
Maxwell was the best player for the Celtics, leading them to a Game 6 win over the Houston Rockets. Maxwell got it done with his scoring and on the glass, averaging 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds to win the Finals MVP.
Larry Bird (1984) Boston Celtics
It was Larry Bird’s time in 1984, as he guided the Celtics over the Lakers in Game 7. Bird averaged 27 points and 14 rebounds per game to capture his first Finals MVP in a very memorable matchup.
Larry Bird (1986) Boston Celtics
Bird and once again captured another Finals MVP Award by taking down the Houston Rockets this time. Bird nearly averaged a triple-double in an amazing individual series and was the hero for his team down the stretch. Bird averaged 24 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game.
James Worthy (1988) Los Angeles Lakers
Worthy was the best player in a very competitive series against the Pistons in 1988. Worthy averaged 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game to lead the Lakers to a third Finals win in four years.
Paul Pierce (2008) Boston Celtics
Pierce was the best performing member of the Celtics Big 3 and was incredibly clutch when his team needed him most. The Celtics blew out Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in Game 6 to win the series.
LeBron James (2012) Miami Heat
James finally captured his first NBA championship by knocking off the young and deadly Oklahoma City Thunder. James was a beast all series long, averaging almost 29-10-7 while shooting over 45% from the field.
LeBron James (2013) Miami Heat
James captured his second Finals MVP in a row by knocking off the dangerous San Antonio Spurs in seven games. James averaged 25 ppg and almost 11 rpg in the series, and making big plays in a pivotal game 7.
Kawhi Leonard (2014) San Antonio Spurs
Leonard won Finals MVP after the Spurs knocked off the Heat in the Finals, ending their big three eras. Kawhi was a beast defensively and shot over 60% from the field in a virtuoso series.
Andre Iguodala (2015) Golden State Warriors
Iguodala did not have the most impressive stat-line in the Warrior’s first championship against the Cavaliers, but he was the most pivotal player in the series. He defended LeBron James every game and came through with clutch buckets when needed.
LeBron James (2016) Cleveland Cavaliers
Perhaps LeBron’s greatest achievement, he managed to carry the Cavaliers to an NBA Finals win over the 73-9 win Golden State Warriors team. He was by far the best player on the court and averaged almost 30-11-9 in dominating fashion.
Kevin Durant (2017) Golden State Warriors
Durant’s first season with the Warriors ended in success for the team, as he was the best player in the series vs the Cavaliers. The Warriors simply had too much talent in comparison to the rest of the league and steamrolled everyone in the playoffs. Durant averaged 35ppg during the series.
Kevin Durant (2018) Golden State Warriors
Durant captured a second Finals MVP in a row after averaging almost 29 ppg and defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals once again. He made them too unstoppable all year long, and the Warriors made easy work in the Finals.
Kawhi Leonard (2019) Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard’s first season with the Raptors ended with an NBA Championship after countless clutch performances on both ends of the floor. Kawhi capitalized on injuries sustained by the Warriors to win his second Finals MVP.
Willis Reed (1970) New York Knicks
Reed was a Knicks legend who managed to capture an NBA title for the Knicks almost 50 years ago. Reed was the best player for the winning team by averaging almost 23 and 11.
Willis Reed (1973) New York Knicks
Reed captured his second Finals MVP Award by leading the Knicks over the Lakers in a wonderful moment of revenge the following year. Reed was the man in the middle, averaging 16 and 9, and being the most consistent force for his second NBA title.
Wes Unseld (1978) Washington Bullets
Unseld had a very pivotal game 7 performance that allowed his team to rally and defeat the SuperSonics. Unseld averaged almost 12 rebounds per game and won the Finals MVP.
Tim Duncan (1999) San Antonio Spurs
Duncan won his first Finals MVP Award at only 22 years old, overtaking legend David Robinson as the best player on the team. The Spurs were a much better team than the New York Knicks, and Duncan was the best player in the series by averaging 27 points and 14 rebounds.
Tim Duncan (2003) San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs were a great team in 2003, and Tim Duncan was a beast by averaging 24 points and 17 rebounds per game as they defeated the New Jersey Nets led by Jason Kidd. Duncan would soon taste victory once again, however.
Tim Duncan (2005) San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs captured an NBA title with Tim Duncan leading the way all series long. Duncan averaged 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game as he captured his third Finals MVP Award in convincing fashion.
Dirk Nowitzki (2011) Dallas Mavericks
Dirk has an unbelievable series vs the Miami Heat in 2011, averaging nearly 27 ppg over six games. He had one of the most legendary runs we have ever seen, as he simply could not be stopped en route to his first NBA title.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1971) Milwaukee Bucks
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won his first finals MVP by sweeping the opposing teams in convincing fashion. Kareem was a man among boys, averaging 27 points and 18.5 rebounds per game en route to his first NBA title.
Wilt Chamberlain (1972) Los Angeles Lakers
Another legend of the game, Wilt took down the Knicks in a five-game series by averaging around 19 points and 23 rebounds per game. Wilt as simply stronger, more skilled, and more athletic than everyone on the floor and he managed to win his first finals MVP.
Bill Walton (1977) Trail Blazers
Walton was an amazing player during the Finals, taking over in the paint by averaging almost 19 points and 19 rebounds. The Sixers eventually feel to the Blazers in six games.
Moses Malone (1983) Philadelphia 76ers
Moses finally captured a Finals MVP Award, sweeping the Lakers in dominating fashion. Malone was simply unstoppable, averaging 25.8 points and 18 rebounds in a very impressive individual performance.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1985) Los Angeles Lakers
The following season, Kareem would not be denied and his 25.7 points and 9 rebounds per game propelled the Lakers to a win over the Celtics in six games. This series would continue to get interesting, however.
Hakeem Olajuwan (1994) Houston Rockets
Hakeem won his first Finals MVP after averaging nearly 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks per game. Hakeem got it done on both ends of the floor, defeating Ewing and the Knicks in Game 7.
Hakeem Olajuwon (1995) Houston Rockets
Hakeem took advantage of Jordan’s retirement once again, taking over the Playoffs and capturing an NBA title for the Rockets. Hakeem was the best player in a series vs the Orlando Magic led by superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway. The Rockets beat them in five games.
Shaquille O’Neal (2000) Los Angeles Lakers
Shaq captured his first NBA MVP Award by averaging a whopping 38 points and 16.7 rebounds per game. Shaq dismantled the Pacers, who could not handle Shaq’s size and strength in the paint. He couldn’t be stopped by any means and led the Lakers to a convincing series win.
Shaquille O’Neal (2001) Los Angeles Lakers
O’Neal captured his second straight Finals MVP by averaging 33 points, 3 blocks, and almost 16 rebounds per game. Shaq made quick work of Mutombo and the 76ers are the best player in the series for a Laker team that only lost one game in the entire playoffs.
Shaquille O’Neal (2002) Los Angeles Lakers
His third Finals MVP in a row, Shaq continued his dominant streak by destroying the New Jersey Nets by averaging 36 points and 12 rebounds per game. The Nets simply had no answer, and Shaq made quick work of them.