Most great players perform in the regular season, putting up incredible numbers and leading their team to a large number of wins. But the very greatest players find a way to get it done in the NBA playoffs, and especially in the NBA Finals.
The Finals is where all the cards are on the line, and where all the pressure of the NBA Universe is on your shoulders. If you are a great player, you must perform in the final round of the playoffs.
While we have seen some incredible performances in the NBA Finals, there are 10 incredible records that currently stand unbroken. Without further ado, here are the 10 most shocking NBA Finals Records by some of the all-time greatest teams and players.
10. Most NBA Finals Series Losses (Team): Los Angeles Lakers with 15 Losses
The Lakers are one of the most storied NBA franchises, thanks to their excellent upper management and assortment of the game’s greatest players. With a franchise sporting some of the greats including Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jerry West at the very least, it is no question that the Lakers would have made many trips to the NBA Finals in their storied past. In fact, they did with a whopping 31 appearances while winning 16 rings.
Their 15 losses as a franchise is the record for the most Finals losses. With appearing in over 10 more appearances than the next-most team, (the Boston Celtics with 21 appearances), it seems rational that they might lose a few more. There was a special player who was on many of those Lakers teams that failed to lead his team to victory. He just so happens to appear on the NBA Logo.
9. Most NBA Series Losses (Player): Jerry West with 8 Losses
Jerry West holds the record for the most NBA series losses by a player with 8 losses. Despite a seemingly overwhelming amount of defeats, West is still one of the greatest players in NBA history. He was so iconic, that he was used as the NBA logo which is viewed around the world. West was a perfect guard, who was able to shoot and pass the ball at the highest level. Unfortunately for him, his NBA Finals record puts slight damp on his resume. West appeared in 9 total NBA Finals appearances, winning only one. He did manage a Finals MVP in that series, averaging 38 points a game.
Unlike West, Elgin Baylor was a player who failed to capture a title despite having 8 defeats in the Finals. Baylor was one of the best forwards in the game, due to his high scoring production and rebounding. Although Baylor would dominate the opposition on most occasions, luck was not on his end and he has to settle with 8 defeats on the NBA Finals record.
8. Most NBA Finals Series Wins (Team): Boston Celtics with 17 Rings
On a more positive note, the Celtics are the most successful team in NBA history with 17 championship rings. Thanks to a selection of incredible players, including the greatest winner ever in Bill Russel, the Celtics managed 17 rings in 21 appearances.
The Celtics won their last title in 2008, when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen beat the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant.
While the Lakers are looking to even the score with their new crop of players, the Celtics are currently the most storied NBA Franchise with 17 NBA Finals wins.
7. Oldest NBA Finals MVP: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 38 Years Old
A common trend in these awards is the prevalence of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. In fact, this goes to prove how a well-managed franchise in a powerful market can attract and retain the best players of all-time. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at 38 years old, captured the Finals MVP and leading his Lakers team to a Finals victory.
Kareem is arguably the greatest player of all time, thanks to his mix of spectacular play on both ends of the floor and almost incomparable accolades. Kareem dominated in college and the NBA, with a winning mentality and the use of the most unstoppable offensive move ever in the patented Sky Hook. Kareem was simply unguardable and managed to capture the Finals Record in 1985 by defeating the Celtics 4-2 in the series.
6. Youngest NBA Finals MVP: Magic Johnson at 20 Years Old
Another Laker great, Magic Johnson, iconically captured the NBA Finals MVP incredibly in his rookie season. At his ripe age of just 20 years old, Magic was forced to start at Center due to a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar injury that put the Lakers title hopes in jeopardy in Game 6.
However, Magic was sensational by posting 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals en route to his first championship. This is regarded as one of the most clutch performances in NBA history, and it might be safe to say that we will not see a younger Finals MVP with this performance again.
5. Most PPG in a Finals Series: Michael Jordan with 41.0 PPG
Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player ever. His impact on the game is just too great, and he was the poster boy for the league for countless years. When it came to winning, Michael is recognized across all sports as possibly the greatest winner ever. But if there was one area of the basketball game he excelled at, it was scoring.
Michael was a phenomenal scorer, and his scoring prowess helped him achieve the record of the highest scoring average in NBA Finals history. Jordan was known to perform in the best of moments, and he delivered in the 1993 Finals in spectacular fashion. Jordan was unstoppable vs the Phoenix Suns, scoring the ball any way he could to lead his team to victory while averaging an outstanding 41 points per game.
4. Most NBA Finals MVPs: Michael Jordan with 6 Finals MVP Awards
Beyond scoring, Michael would control the pace of the game with his tenacious defense and on-court impact. Therefore, it is not surprising that he holds the record for the most Finals MVP Awards. Michael was a winner at the most extreme level, and this led him to capture an incredible 6 Finals MVP awards over his career. To add to this great achievement, all six of his awards resulted in victories for Jordan and the Bulls. He went 6-0, with 6 Finals MVPs. There will never be another Michael Jordan again.
3. Most Consecutive NBA Finals MVPs: Michael Jordan (3) and Shaquille O’Neal (3)
Once again, Michael holds another Finals record with most consecutive MVPs along with Shaquille O’Neal. Jordan captured 3 Finals MVPs in a row, twice. He was the driving force behind the Bulls NBA championships and his iconic play helped him capture this prestigious record.
Shaquille O’Neal was also an unstoppable force in the NBA Finals, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to 3 straight NBA Championships. Shaq was the most dominant force in the modern-day era, where two or three defenders could not slow him down. He was also exceptional on both ends of the floor, able to score in bunches and defend the paint with tenacity. His size, strength, and skill made him completely unstoppable and this is why he joined Jordan in capturing this record.
2. Most NBA Finals Appearances (Player): Bill Russel with 12 Appearances
Bill Russel is one of the greatest big men ever, if not the greatest. He was his team’s most dominating player that managed a whopping 12 NBA Finals appearances. Russel was a defensive nightmare for any opposition, averaging an incredible 22.5 rebounds per game over his career.
Russel was the most dominating defensive paint presence the NBA had to date, snatching every rebound that went up in the air and starting a fastbreak that featured a nice collection of Hall-of-Famers. Russel was so dominant, that the Celtics would run riot over the NBA for over a decade en route to 12 Finals appearances.
1. Most NBA Finals Series Wins (Player): Bill Russel with 11 Rings
While there are so many great NBA Finals records posted by the likes of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, there is perhaps one area that is most impressive. That is the amount of NBA Finals victories posted by the great Bill Russel. Russel was the leader and the key reason why the Celtics have as many championships as they do.
Russel was a legend who thrived on controlling the paint, making sure the game flowed according to his presence. He was also a terrific leader and winner, managing to capture an astounding 11 NBA championships in 12 appearances. Needless to say, this record will never be broken.