When we last saw each other, we talked about Tim Duncan and his No. 6 performance in the first half of our NBA Finals Top-10 list. I forgot to mention my honorable mention.
Jerry West in the 1969 NBA Finals was named the Finals MVP in a losing effort! I mean you have to be the best player on the floor to win MVP and lose to the Boston Celtics, of all teams. West averaged 37.9 points per game with 7.4 assists.
Now that we are all caught up, let’s get on with the rest of the countdown.
5. Magic Johnson — 1987 Los Angeles Lakers
Magic Johnson helped the “Showtime” Lakers defeat their arch-rival Boston Celtics in six games. He averaged 26.2 points per game, 13 assists and eight rebounds in the series, winning the Finals MVP. In Game 4, Magic hit a short hook shot to win the game and in Game 6 he dished out 19 assists to close out the Celtics.
4. LeBron James — 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron makes the list by “winning one for the land” and coming back from being down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors. With Cleveland’s back against the wall, James scored 41 points (teammate Kyrie Irving also added 41) in Game 5 and another 41 points in Game 6. LeBron earned a triple-double in the final game with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as he won the Finals MVP, averaging 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists a game in the series.
3. Dwyane Wade — 2006 Miami Heat
Wade helped the Miami Heat come back from an 0-2 deficit to the Dallas Mavericks to win the series in six games. In the final four games, D-Wade put up 42 points (Game 3), 36 points (Game 4), 43 points (Game 5) and 36 points in the closeout game to bring his Finals average to 34.7 points per game with 7.8 rebounds. Of course, Wade won the NBA Finals MVP and Miami would become known as Wade County.
2. Shaquille O’Neal — 2000 Los Angeles Lakers
Shaq led the Lakers to the first title of the “Three-Peat” championship run by defeating the Indiana Pacers. Despite the Pacers using the “Hack-a-Shaq” method to try to neutralize the big man, O’Neal averaged 38 points per game, 16.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. He won the Finals MVP, dominating the game the way very few superstars have before or after.
1. Michael Jordan — 1993 Chicago Bulls
Jordan and the Bulls completed their first “Three-Peat” by defeating Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns in six games. Jordan’s biggest game in this series was Game 4 where he would not be denied, putting up 55 points. His “Air-ness” averaged 41 points per game, 8.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists on his way to receiving the NBA Finals MVP for the third straight time. He is the first player to win that award three consecutive times and the only player to win it six times.
We are looking for this year’s NBA Finals to be epic and hope that there is a player that steps up to a level that is worthy of making this list.