The NBA Finals are finally here and every basketball fan is hoping that it will be a matchup for the ages.
Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are looking to repeat as champions against Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Klay Thomson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. It is believed that for Cleveland to pull off back-to-back titles it is going to take a Herculean effort from LeBron James.
Golden State, on the other hand, can have its stars take turns having a big game and come out victorious.
In the spirit of players stepping up and putting the team on their backs, I decided to go back and salute the best performances of the NBA Finals.
10. Michael Jordan — 1991 Chicago Bulls
Jordan was the 1991 NBA Finals MVP averaging 31.2 points per game, 6.6 rebounds and 11.4 rebounds. Jordan and the Bulls got over the hump and got their first championship, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
9. Shaquille O’Neal — 2001 Los Angeles Lakers
Shaq helped the Lakers put away Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in just five games. He averaged 33 points per game, 15.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists. O’Neal was the 2001 NBA Finals MVP.
8. Michael Jordan — 1992 Chicago Bulls
In Game 1, Jordan set the tone against the Portland Trail Blazers by scoring 35 points in the first half, hitting six 3-pointers and turning to the crowd shrugging his shoulders as if to say “I can’t explain it either!” He would go on to be Finals MVP turning in 35.8 points per game to go with 6.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
7. Shaquille O’Neal — 2002 Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets on their way to a three-peat. Shaq averaged 36.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. He, of course, earned the NBA Finals MVP.
6. Tim Duncan — 2003 San Antonio Spurs
Speaking of beating the New Jersey Nets, the 2002-03 season was David Robinson’s final one, but it was Duncan who took the Spurs to the next level to win the ring. Duncan averaged 24.2 points, 17 rebounds, 5.3 blocks and 5.3 assists in the six games that it took to bring down the Nets, winning NBA Finals MVP.
Join me Thursday as we break down numbers five through one and see if either team (Cleveland and Golden State) can turn in one of these performances as the NBA Finals kick off tomorrow.