NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
The Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award (formerly known as the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award) is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given since the 1969 NBA Finals. The award is decided by a panel of eleven media members, who cast votes after the conclusion of the Finals. The person with the highest number of votes wins the award. The award was originally a black trophy with a gold basketball-shaped sphere at the top, similar to the Larry O'Brien Trophy, until a new trophy was introduced in 2005 to commemorate Bill Russell.
Since its inception, the award has been given to 31 players. Michael Jordan is a record six-time award winner. Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and LeBron James won the award three times in their careers. Jordan and O'Neal are the only players to win the award in three consecutive seasons (Jordan accomplished the feat on two separate occasions). Johnson is the only rookie ever to win the award, as well as the youngest at 20 years old. Andre Iguodala is the only winner to have not started every game in the series. Jerry West, the first ever awardee, is the only person to win the award while being on the losing team in the NBA Finals. Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kobe Bryant, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant won the award twice. Olajuwon, Durant, Bryant, and James have won the award in two consecutive seasons. Abdul-Jabbar, James and Leonard are the only players to win the award for two teams, while Leonard is the only player to have won the award in both conferences. Olajuwon of Nigeria, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1993, Tony Parker of France, and Dirk Nowitzki of Germany are the only international players to win the award. Duncan is an American citizen, but is considered an "international" player by the NBA because he was not born in one of the fifty states or Washington, D.C. Parker and Nowitzki are the only winners to have been trained totally outside the U.S.; Olajuwon played college basketball at Houston and Duncan at Wake Forest. Cedric Maxwell and Chauncey Billups are the only Finals MVP winners eligible for the Hall of Fame who has not been voted in.
On February 14, 2009, during the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the award would be renamed the "Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award" in honor of 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell.
|^||Denotes player who is still active in the NBA|
|*||Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame|
|§||Player's team lost the NBA Finals|
|Player (X)||Denotes the number of times the player had received the Finals MVP award|
|Team (X)||Denotes the number of times a player from this team has received the Finals MVP award|
|Michael Jordan||Chicago Bulls||6||1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998|
|Magic Johnson||Los Angeles Lakers||3||1980, 1982, 1987|
|Shaquille O'Neal||Los Angeles Lakers||2000, 2001, 2002|
|Tim Duncan||San Antonio Spurs||1999, 2003, 2005|
|LeBron James||Miami Heat (2), Cleveland Cavaliers (1)||2012, 2013, 2016|
|Willis Reed||New York Knicks||2||1970, 1973|
|Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers||1971, 1985|
|Larry Bird||Boston Celtics||1984, 1986|
|Hakeem Olajuwon||Houston Rockets||1994, 1995|
|Kobe Bryant||Los Angeles Lakers||2009, 2010|
|Kevin Durant||Golden State Warriors||2017, 2018|
|Kawhi Leonard||San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors||2014, 2019|
- Before the 1971–72 season, Lew Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
- At 20 years and 276 days old, Johnson is the youngest Finals MVP winner in history.
- At 38 years and 54 days old, Abdul-Jabbar is the oldest Finals MVP winner in history.
- Hakeem Olajuwon was born in Nigeria, but became a naturalized United States citizen in 1993.
- Because Tim Duncan is a United States citizen by birth, as are all natives of the U.S. Virgin Islands, he was able to play for the U.S. internationally.
- Tony Parker was born in Belgium. He holds French citizenship and plays for their national team.
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