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Who have been the NBA Finals MVPs in the past? Who has the most MVPs?

As we await the outcome of the 2023 NBA Finals, let’s take a moment to reflect on the players who have had the most significant impact when it mattered.

Gidget Alikpala
Stephen Curry #30 and Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors celebrate with the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award and the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy
Adam GlanzmanAFP

The NBA Finals series between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat will continue on Monday, and players from both teams will bring their A-game to the floor for the trophy.

Some players tend to buckle under the immense pressure of having the championship within reach, while others shine and deliver their best numbers at this crucial point in the season.

Those who can operate at the absolutely highest level in these circumstances are declared the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals and receive the Bill Russell Trophy.

Jerry West makes history

The NBA first handed out this award in 1969 to Jerry West, who is said to have been the inspiration for the league logo.

Aside from being the first awardee, West is also known for being the only player honored with the title while being on the losing team.

The league has given this honor 54 times to 32 players, showing that standout athletes often carry out repeat performances.

For example, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan was named NBA Finals MVP a record six times. LeBron James follows suit with four wins, while Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tim Duncan each earned the honor three times.

Here is the complete list of NBA Finals MVPs.

1969Jerry WestLos Angeles LakersGuard
1970Willis ReedNew York KnicksCenter/Forward
1971Lew AlcindorMilwaukee BucksCenter
1972Wilt ChamberlainLos Angeles LakersCenter
1973Willis ReedNew York KnicksCenter/Forward
1974John HavlicekBoston CelticsForward/Guard
1975Rick BarryGolden State WarriorsForward
1976Jo Jo WhiteBoston CelticsGuard
1977Bill WaltonPortland Trail BlazersCenter
1978Wes UnseldWashington BulletsCenter/Forward
1979Dennis JohnsonSeattle SuperSonicsGuard
1980Magic JohnsonLos Angeles LakersGuard
1981Cedric MaxwellBoston CelticsCenter
1982Magic JohnsonLos Angeles LakersGuard
1983Moses MalonePhiladelphia 76ersCenter
1984Larry BirdBoston CelticsForward
1985Kareem Abdul-JabbarLos Angeles LakersCenter
1986Larry BirdBoston CelticsForward
1987Magic JohnsonLos Angeles LakersGuard
1988James WorthyLos Angeles LakersForward
1989Joe DumarsDetroit PistonsGuard
1990Isaiah ThomasDetroit PistonsGuard
1991Michael JordanChicago BullsGuard
1992Michael JordanChicago BullsGuard
1993Michael JordanChicago BullsGuard
1994Hakeem OlajuwonHouston RocketsCenter
1995Hakeem OlajuwonHouston RocketsCenter
1996Michael JordanChicago BullsGuard
1997Michael JordanChicago BullsGuard
1998Michael JordanChicago BullsGuard
1999Tim DuncanSan Antonio SpursForward)Center
2000Shaquille O’NealLos Angeles LakersCenter
2001Shaquille O’NealLos Angeles LakersCenter
2002Shaquille O’NealLos Angeles LakersCenter
2003Tim DuncanSan Antonio SpursForward)Center
2004Chauncey BillupsDetroit PistonsGuard
2005Tim DuncanSan Antonio SpursForward)Center
2006Dwayne WadeMiami HeatGuard
2007Tony ParkerSan Antonio SpursGuard
2008Paul PierceBoston CelticsForward
2009Kobe BryantLos Angeles LakersGuard
2010Kobe BryantLos Angeles LakersGuard
2011Dirk NowitzkiDallas MavericksForward
2012LeBron JamesMiami HeatForward
2013LeBron JamesMiami HeatForward
2014Kawhi LeonardSan Antonio SpursForward
2015Andre IguodalaGolden State WarriorsForward/Guard
2016LeBron JamesCleveland CavaliersForward
2017Kevin DurantGolden State WarriorsForward
2018Kevin DurantGolden State WarriorsForward
2019Kawhi LeonardToronto RaptorsForward
2020LeBron JamesLos Angeles LakersForward
2021Giannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee BucksForward
2022Stephen CurryGolden State WarriorsGuard

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