NBA Finals MVP: Ranking the 10 Greatest Finals MVP's EVER
There are 4 levels of play in realms of NBA basketball. Each time you crack a new level, the level of competition becomes way higher than the previous. If you are confused as to what I'm talking about, I'm referring to the following 4 levels:
(1) Preseason/ Summer League basketball
(2) Regular season play
(3) Playoffs competition
(4) The NBA Finals
The greatest players of all time have the ability to ramp up the level of their play according to the stage, which is why Michael Jordan is considered the Greatest of All Time - he never lost a Finals series, and he never lost a Playoffs series once he had enough help (in the form of a healthy Scottie Pippen).
Some of the greatest individual performances ever made by players have come through the course of 7-game NBA Finals series. In this article, we attempt to rank the most astonishing series ever played by a single player in the Finals. Since there are so many candidates to pick from, we attempt to resolve ties by using the following parameters:
(a) How much better the player in question was than the rest of the field that series
(b) How much help the player had in order to win the series - the ones with more help are given lower ratings
(c) How tough the opposition team was as a team,
#10 Tim Duncan in the 2002-03 NBA Finals vs New Jersey Nets
Finals averages: 24.2 points, 17.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 5.3 blocks per game
At the peak of his decorated career, Tim Duncan would do it all for the San Antonio Spurs at both ends of the floor. Coming off the back of an MVP campaign in the regular season, Duncan and the Spurs beat off the competition from three-time defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference Semifinals, before beating Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash in the Conference Finals.
These Finals were a comparatively easier series for Duncan, who dominated play at both ends of the floor for the Spurs. He led the Spurs in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks, and the New Jersey Nets had no answer for Duncan in the low post.
Duncan's best performance of the series was in Game 5, which turned the tide decisively in the Spurs' favor. Duncan put up a monster stat line of 29 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks in 46 minutes to help the Spurs to a 93-83 win - meaning they were to play game 6 on home court.
Duncan put up another, perhaps even more monstrous stat line of 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 blocks in game 6 through 46 more minutes of game time to see the Spurs through to an 11-point victory.
Duncan's 32 total blocks in the series are still the record for most blocks recorded by a single player in a playoff series.