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Top 5 superstars who won Finals MVP in their first NBA Finals appearance

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks sits on the bench for a moment after defeating the Phoenix Suns in Game Six to win the 2021 NBA Finals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks sits on the bench for a moment after defeating the Phoenix Suns in Game Six to win the 2021 NBA Finals.
ANALYST

In an effort for the ages, Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo won the NBA Finals MVP award after closing out the Phoenix Suns on a 50-point night in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals.

It was Antetokounmpo's first appearance in the NBA Finals and he made the most of his first taste at the NBA's biggest stage. The two-time NBA MVP looked completely dominant throughout the series even after coming off a hyperextended knee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Five Superstars who won Finals MVP in their first NBA Finals appearance

Giannis added 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in the title-clinching Game 6, which were unprecedented feats for any player in NBA Finals history. That gave the Milwaukee Bucks their second NBA championship (the first since 1971).

The 2021 NBA Finals were the first for Giannis and also the first for the Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker and Chris Paul. The Finals MVP award would've surely gone to any of these players, given how the series unfolded, and the 'Greek Freak' ultimately took it.

The bona fide superstars won the NBA Finals MVP award only nine times in their first appearance in the NBA Finals.

In this piece, we will give you the five most impressive debut performances from a superstar that resulted in NBA Finals MVP recognition.

Without further ado, let us start.


Honorable mention

Willis Reed (1970), Bill Walton (1977), Dwyane Wade (2006) and Paul Pierce (2008) were the four other superstars to win the Finals MVP award in their first trip to the NBA Finals.


#5 Michael Jordan - 1991 NBA Finals

Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls.
Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls.

The 1991 NBA Finals saw Magic Johnson and the 'Showtime' LA Lakers reach that stage for the first and only time without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. On the other end, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were ready to launch the franchise's 1990s dynasty at the expense of the dominant team from the 1980s.

As a changing of the guard, the Chicago Bulls dominated Johnson's La Lakers in five games of the 1991 NBA Finals, with Michael Jordan winning the first of his six NBA Finals MVP awards.

Jordan had an immense series, putting up offensive shows continuously, especially in Game 2, where he made 13 consecutive shots at one point.

'His Airness' averaged 31.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 11.4 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.4 blocks per game in the series with 55/50/84 shooting splits.


#4 Tim Duncan - 1999 NBA Finals

David Robinson and Tim Duncan celebrate after winning the NBA championship.
David Robinson and Tim Duncan celebrate after winning the NBA championship.

After Michael Jordan's second retirement and the lockout-shortened 1998-99 NBA season, not many knew what to expect from that postseason, especially after a 50-game regular season.

However, it was the turn of the San Antonio Spurs to start a dynasty, or at least a consistent run of greatness and glory that would take place until 2014. Tim Duncan was the reigning Rookie of the Year award winner when the 1998-99 NBA season started, but the sophomore had big things to achieve that year.

With David Robinson on the frontcourt, the Spurs had a fierce interior defense with a pair of 'towers'. San Antonio reached the 1999 NBA Finals with an 11-1 record on the Western Conference side of the postseason. The New York Knicks were the rivals of San Antonio in the NBA Finals as they had become the first and so far only eighth seed to reach that stage.

Tim Duncan led the Spurs to a five-game victory in his first appearance in the NBA Finals. He earned the first of his three NBA Finals MVP awards after averaging 27 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks per game.

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Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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