The NBA has a huge amount of different awards that players can earn. While regular season MVP often gets a lot more attention, the NBA Finals MVP is often an award that involves the player leading his team to the championship.
Who decides the NBA Finals MVP? After the finals have concluded, a panel of eleven media members will cast votes for Finals MVP. The player who receives the most votes will be crowned as NBA Finals MVP.
Most NBA awards are decided by journalists and other people in the media. This is still the case for the Finals MVP award, but it is a small panel of just eleven media members who decide who is the NBA finals MVP. These media members tend to be from a range of different outlets.
If we look back at the 2019 Finals MVP voting, it was decided by media personalities like Mark Jackson, Marc Spears and Rachel Nichols. This is usually the case, with the NBA using well known media personalities, as well as getting all of the voters to be from different news outlets, to avoid any perceived bias to one company.
The idea of using journalists to decide on these awards has been around as long as competitive sports has existed. While it may on the surface seem odd, to have non-sports people deciding the fate of such big sports awards. The idea is that these journalists get paid to study the game and be guardians of its narrative and history. While personal bias and team allegiance will always exist, journalists at least have the genuine reason to attempt to see past their bias.
Who has the Most NBA Finals MVP Awards?
In the history of the NBA, there have been 12 different players to win the finals MVP award more than once. In third, there are three players who have three NBA finals MVP awards. These players are Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan.
In second place, there is a player who will hope to add to his record. Lebron James holds four finals MVP awards, getting his most recent one in 2020 with the Lakers. James is also the only player to win the finals MVP award with three different teams, having done it with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers before his time with the Lakers.
The player with the most NBA finals MVP awards is Michael Jordan. The former Chicago Bull won all six of the finals that he competed in, also winning the finals MVP award in each of the six finals that he appeared in. It would take quite an effort for any player to catch up to Jordans incredible record in the finals.
Has the NBA Finals MVP ever been from the losing team?
One of the criticisms of the NBA Finals MVP award is that it is always awarded to a player from the winning team, even if a player on the losing team has performed better. Lebron James fans have been particularly vocal about this during his finals losses as he has often carried an underdog team to near victory. Perhaps the most famous was 2015, when Lebron’s Cavs, without Allstars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, pushed the emerging dynasty of the Golden State Warriors to 6 games. In the end, the award did not go to Steph Curry or Klay Thompon. It went to Andre Igoudala, who was flipped from the bench to the starting line up to help guard the rampaging Lebron. Igoudala did so well that he was awarded the Finals MVP despite ‘allowing’ Lebron to have 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists for the series. James also became the first player in NBA Finals history to lead both teams in points, assists, and rebounds. If ever a player from the losing team was going to win it again it was Lebron in 2015. There has been one player in NBA history to have won the Finals MVP award despite being on the losing team. This actually happened the first time that the award was given out. Before 1969, the NBA did not award a Finals MVP, but this changed for the 1969 NBA finals.
It was legendary guard Jerry West who won the Finals MVP. The crazy thing about West’s win was that his Los Angeles Lakers lost the 1969 finals. The Boston Celtics won the finals in seven games. West played excellently throughout the series including 42 points in the game seven loss, so it’s not surprising that he was given Finals MVP as he was the best player in the series.
Since then, no other player has won the finals MVP award when they have been on the losing team. It seems the voters don’t want to vote for a finals MVP unless their team wins the finals.
Has a rookie ever won an NBA finals MVP?
Finals MVP is rarely an award we see given to rookies and for good reason. When it is your first season with the team, it is pretty unlikely that you will be the best player on a championship winning team. Pretty much all players need a couple of years to get to the level of a Finals MVP.
Despite this, there is one exception. In 1979, the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Michigan State guard Magic Johnson first overall. Less than 12 months later, the Lakers were in the finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers went up 3-2 in the series, but the title looked in jeopardy as star centre Kareem Abdul Jabbar was ruled out for game 6.
It didn’t matter as Magic Johnson had a huge 42 point, 15 rebound game as the Lakers won the 1980 NBA title. With an incredible closeout performance, the point guard took Kareem’s spot at Centre, Johnson was named the NBA Finals MVP and he is still the only rookie to be given the award.
Who is the NBA Finals MVP Award named after?
While most fans know the name of the finals MVP award, few know the full name which is the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. The trophy was named after former Boston Celtic Bill Russell.
Russell actually never won the NBA Finals MVP award, but only because it was not awarded until the year he retired and that one went to West, while Russell had to settle for his 11th title. If they were giving out Finals MVP awards during the whole of Russell’s career, it is likely the centre would have the record for the most awards considering he won eleven championships in the NBA.
So as a legend of the NBA finals, it is hardly surprising that the NBA renamed the finals MVP trophy after him in 2005.
Who is the Oldest player to win the NBA Finals MVP Award?
Most fans believe that NBA players decline with age, but there is one player who remained at an incredibly high level in the finals despite being 38 years and 54 days old.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar first won finals MVP in 1971 when he was with the Milwaukee Bucks. After moving to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975, the NBAs all time leading scorer won the finals MVP again in 1985. It is the longest time between a player winning their first and second NBA Finals MVP award.
Kareem won his second Finals MVP award at 38 years old, with Lebron James finals MVP award in 2020 at the age of 35 coming second.