Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Multiple Finals MVP Award Winners Trivia

The first Finals MVP trophy was awarded to Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers at the conclusion of the 1969 NBA Finals. Since then, then have been 29 additional players to be bestowed with this award.

So a total of 30 players have won the Finals MVP. Twenty of those players won the award only once, 10 others won multiple awards. Here's the breakdown of whose won more than one Finals MVP award:

  • Two time winners - Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Willis Reed
  • Three time winners - LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Shaq, Tim Duncan
  • Six time winners - Michael Jordan
MJ's six Finals MVP awards are a solid argument for him being the GOAT. (As are his four regular season MVPs, six rings, scoring titles, DPOY awards, etc.)

Interestingly, of all the players to win more than one Finals MVP award, only two won Finals MVP awards on different teams. Those two players are:
  • LeBron James - Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, and
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers

Three players who won their multiple Finals MVP awards did so in consecutive years:
  • Hakeem Olajuwon - 1994 and 1995
  • Kobe Bryant - 2009 and 2010
  • Shaq - 2000, 2001, 2002
And one could add MJ to the list above if you only counted years in which the player participated in the entire season. (Jordan left baseball in 1995, joining the team late in the season. The Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs that year by the Orlando Magic. Over the next three years, however, the Bulls won the title, with MJ nabbing the Finals MVP trophy each time.)

Kareem has the greatest distance between Finals MVP awards - 14 seasons! He won his first with the Bucks in 1971 and his only other Finals MVP award with the Lakers in 1985.

The team with the most Finals MVP awards is the Los Angeles Lakers, with 12. These 12 awards were spread over seven different players:
  • Jerry West - 1969
  • Wilt Chamberlain - 1972
  • Magic Johnson - 1980, 1982, 1987
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 1985
  • James Worthy - 1988
  • Shaq - 2000, 2001, 2002
  • Kobe Bryant - 2009, 2010
Next are the Bulls and Celtics, with 6 apiece. The Celtics award winners were:
  • John Havlicek - 1974
  • Jo Jo White - 1976
  • Cedric Maxwell - 1981
  • Larry Bird - 1984, 1986
All 6 Bulls Final MVPs were won by one man:
  • Michael Jordan - 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
The Spurs have 5 Finals MVPs:
  • Tim Duncan - 1999, 2003, 2005
  • Tony Parker - 2007
  • Kawhi Leonard - 2014
After that, the Miami Heat have 3 (LeBron twice and D.Wade once), as do the Pistons (Dumars, Thomas and Billups).

There are two teams with 2 awards (the Rockets and Warriors) and then 9 teams with just one Finals MVP award.

As you would expect, most NBA Finals MVP award winners are in the NBA Hall of Fame. There is one notable exception - the 1981 NBA Finals MVP winner, Cedric Maxwell, is currently the only NBA Finals MVP player who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but has not been inducted. The only question marks for currently non-eligible players are Chauncey Billups, Kawhi Leonard and Andre Iguodala.