It’s never easy to stand out from the rest of the pack in the NBA, where the best players in the world collide to try and prove that they’re at the top of their game.
And one of the hardest things to accomplish is outplaying everybody else on the court on a 7-game series to win the NBA Championship and win the Finals MVP.
Since the award was created, juts 31 players have been able to take it home on NBA history. However, just a handful of them has been able to win it more than once. We’ll list them below:
2 Finals MVPs (2014, 2019)
Kawhi Leonard came pretty much out of the blue in 2014. He wasn’t a featured player on the Spurs’ offense, and nobody knew his defense was going to be that great. However, he stood up, embraced the challenge of guarding LeBron James, and took care of business.
Five years later and turned into a superstar, Leonard once again led the pack – this time with the Toronto Raptors – and was the best player in both ends of the court. He’s one of just three players to win the award with different teams.
2 Finals MVPs (2017, 2018)
Kevin Durant took a lot of heat for leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, the very same team that had just beat him in the playoffs. However, he made sure to let everybody know that he wasn’t being carried by anybody.
Durant brought his A-game in the Finals in both ends of the floor. He never took his foot off the gas and just wanted to out-duel LeBron James on every single possession. People are still giving him a hard time, but he definitely earned those rings.
2 Finals MVPs (2009, 2010)
Kobe Bryant’s haters claimed he was carried by Shaquille O’Neal during his first three Championships. That’s a blatant lie, but he made sure to add a couple of Finals MVPs to his resume later on his career so people would just shut up about it.
Kobe was an unstoppable force in both ends of the court during his last trips to the Finals. He was the best player in the league and wanted to make sure everybody in the world would remember his name until the end of time. Mission accomplished, Kobe.
2 Finals MVPs (1994, 1995)
Hakeem Olajuwon made the most of Michael Jordan’s first retirement. He stood up as the best player in the league and led his Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA Championships now that His Royal Airness was gone and pursuing a career on baseball.
It seems like people don’t talk enough about Hakeem Olajuwon nowadays. Still, he’s arguably the most influential big man ever. People still study his footwork nowadays and try to copy most of his moves. There’s a reason why he was so dominant.
2 Finals MVPs (1984, 1986)
Larry Bird was poised for greatness and he knew it. He enjoyed winning, but he looked forward to hitting a dagger, talking trash, and letting everybody know that he was the man in charge. He surely did so in 1984 and 1986 with the Boston Celtics.
Bird proved why he was the best small forward on NBA history at that time, hitting shot after shot and playing lockdown defense on the other end. He had a great supporting cast, but the Celtics were Larry Bird’s team, without a doubt.
2 Finals MVPs (1970, 1973)
Believe it or not, there was a time when the New York Knicks were one of the league’s driving forces. Notably, Willis Reed played a huge part in their success, as he was one of the most dominant two-way players the NBA had seen at the time.
Reed was an unstoppable force in both ends of the glass. He could score in bunches and his physicality and brains always helped him outplay his opposition. He led the Knicks to four straight wins vs. the Lakers to secure their last NBA Championship ever.
2 Finals MVPs (1971, 1985)
Ever since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made it to the league, he completely took over. He was just so reliable, so durable, that he even won his second Finals MVP fourteen years after winning the first one when he was still known as Lew Alcindor.
Abdul-Jabbar’s unblockable skyhook made them the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, but his top-notch defense also made him a basketball legend. He led the Bucks to his only Championship and then won 5 more with the purple and gold, as well as 6 MVPs.
3 Finals MVPs (2012, 2013, 2016)
LeBron James was heavily criticized for taking his talents to South Beach. However, that move helped him cement himself as a legend and build a much-needed winning legacy. He won a couple of rings with the Miami Heat and obviously, two Finals MVPs.
However, James’ legacy would be completed once he came back home and delivered that promised Championship, and that’s exactly what he did. He put an end to the city’s never-ending title drought and the state of Ohio finally forgave him for leaving in the first place.
3 Finals MVPs (2000, 2001, 2002)
The Los Angeles Lakers were simply unstoppable with a rising Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal right in his prime. That’s why nobody was surprised to see them take three straight Championships, with the Big Diesel as the alpha dog and primary scorer.
O’Neal was so dominant that he impacted the game even when he wasn’t on the court. He completely crushed his opposition with his rare combination of physicality, pure skills, and basketball IQ. We’ll never see another Shaquille O’Neal.
3 Finals MVPs (1999, 2003, 2005)
Every single kid trying to become an NBA player should watch thousands of hours of Tim Duncan’s footage. There’s a reason why they called him ‘The Big Fundamental’, and it’s because his game was arguably perfect. He was pragmatic, not flashy, but efficient and effective.
Also, Duncan came huge when his team needed him the most: in the playoffs. He played some of the best post-defense the league had ever seen, but also stood up and took care of business in the offensive end. He was the most important player on a two-decade dynasty.
3 Finals MVPs (1980, 1982, 1987)
Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard in the history of the game. However, he was able to play all five spots on the court, as he did during his rookie year when he started at center for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, you may have heard about him before.
Johnson was incredibly clutch in both ends of the floor. He had the quickest hands in town and a basketball IQ that was just off the charts. Sadly his career was cut short, but he could’ve won even more Championships and Finals MVPs, truth to be told.
6 Finals MVPs (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
And obviously this list wouldn’t be complete without the greatest competitor in the history of sports: Michael Jordan. Jordan never lost a series in the Finals and went a perfect 6-6 in basketball’s ultimate stage. Nothing beats that.
Jordan was a straight-up assassin in the Finals. He hit clutch shot after clutch shot, stripped the ball on the last couple of possessions, set his teammates up for a three, whatever it took to win; he was going to do it. That’s why he’s the greatest player ever.