Most NBA stars enter the league at 19 years old, meaning they only reach their prime when they’re entering their 8th season. In fact, there have been countless basketball legends that could never win an NBA Championship until they were veterans.
Some players reach their primes at 27-28. Others peak early and are unable to sustain it throughout their careers, while a handful of legends made history because of their ability to keep performing at the highest level even after a decade in the league.
Even so, there have only been 3 players that have won more than one Finals MVP award after turning 30 years old. Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kobe Bryant turned back the clock and dominated their younger rivals, and today, we’re going to let you know about it.
Michael Jordan – 4 Finals MVPs (6 Finals MVPs)
Believe it or not, Michael Jordan was highly questioned as a winner and a leader earlier on his career. It took him 7 seasons to finally make it to the NBA Finals and claim his throne as the greatest player in the world. Once he did it, he never looked back.
Jordan won a couple of rings before turning 30. He entered the 1992-93 season with 29 years and turned 30 before winning his third straight Championship. He averaged 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 dimes per game to beat the Phoenix Suns and win his 3rd consecutive Finals MVP.
Jordan retired for a season, then came back for the final 17 regular-season games in 1995. Then, as a 32-year-old, led the Chicago Bulls to the (then) best record in NBA history with 73-9. He averaged 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.2 assists to claim another Finals MVP.
As you may know by now, he led the Bulls to two more titles in the following seasons at age 33 and 34. He averaged 32.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game in 1997 and 33.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.3 dimes in 1998 to win two more Finals MVPs.
Hakeem Olajuwon – 2 Finals MVPs (2 Finals MVPs)
Hakeem Olajuwon sure made the most of the time Michael Jordan took off. Everybody in the league thought they could have a shot at a ring with Jordan out of the picture but The Dream made sure nobody else ate during his watch. It was his time to dominate.
Hakeem led the Rockets to the Finals in 1994 vs. the Knicks. He averaged 26.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game to take Patrick Ewing down in 7 games. Obviously, he was named Finals MVP and it was clear that he was the best player in the world at 31 years old.
The Dream and the Rockets didn’t miss a beat next season. Even despite Jordan’s return, Hakeem led the Rockets to the Finals vs. Shaq and the Orlando Magic. He averaged 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game, the Rockets swept, and he was Finals MVP again.
Kobe Bryant – 2 Finals MVPs (2 Finals MVPs)
Unlike most NBA stars, Kobe Bryant amassed success at a young age. That, however, made people claim that Shaquille O’Neal carried him through his first 3 Championships, which obviously infuriated the Black Mamba beyond measure.
He finally silenced his critics at 30 years old. He came off a heartbreaking loss vs. the Boston Celtics and made sure no one got in his way this time. He averaged 32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game to sweep Dwight Howard and the Magic.
Then, he got back at the Celtics to lead the Lakers to their 16th NBA Championship. He averaged 28.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game, outplayed Paul Pierce and the Lakers won a 7-game thriller. Simply legendary stuff by the ‘Vino’, aging like a fine wine.