Create
Notifications

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

ANALYST

#3 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 1971 NBA Finals

<a href='https://www.sportskeeda.com/player/kareem-abdul-jabbar' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'>Kareem and Oscar Robertson." height="532" width="800" />
Kareem and Oscar Robertson.

Then known as Lew Alcindor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took the Milwaukee Bucks to the 1971 NBA Finals and made the most of it. In only his second year in the NBA, Abdul-Jabbar had an incredible regular season, winning the first of his six NBA MVP awards, and then dominated in the NBA Playoffs.

Playing alongside Oscar Robertson, sophomore Abdul-Jabbar was huge in the 1971 NBA Finals as the Bucks swept the Baltimore Bullets.

In the four-game series win, Kareem averaged 27 points and 18.5 rebounds per game while making 60.5% of his field goals and 76% of his free throws. It was the first of his 10 appearances in the NBA Finals (two with Milwaukee and eight with the Showtime LA Lakers).

Later in his career, Abdul-Jabbar won his second and last Finals MVP award (in 1985 after the LA Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics).


#2 Giannis Antetokounmpo - 2021 NBA Finals

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks holds the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award and the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks holds the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award and the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had arguably the greatest single-game performance ever seen in an NBA Finals game, and statistically it might be. With his 50-point night with 14 rebounds and five blocks, the 'Greek Freak' became the only player in NBA history to reach those marks in an NBA Finals game.

He was deservedly named Finals MVP as he averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, five assists, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks per game with a 61.8% field-goal efficiency.

His 50 points are also tied for the most ever scored in a closeout game of the NBA Finals, matching Bob Pettit's night against the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the 1958 NBA Finals.

Antetokounmpo ended the 2021 NBA Finals with three games of at least 40 points and one 50-point effort. With his NBA Finals MVP award, Antetokounmpo became the third player in NBA history to win the NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP awards during his career (alongside Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon).


#1 Magic Johnson - 1980 NBA Finals

Magic Jonson with the Larry O'Brien trophy. Photo Credit: Focus on Sport via Getty Images.
Magic Jonson with the Larry O'Brien trophy. Photo Credit: Focus on Sport via Getty Images.

Magic Johnson's performance in the 1980 NBA Finals was unique, especially in Game 6 without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The 20-year-old rookie had to enter the court without the NBA MVP by his side, but with the LA Lakers enjoying a 3-2 lead over Julius Erving's Philadelphia 76ers.

Without Kareem, Johnson played as LA's center and scored an unbelievable 42 points with 15 rebounds and seven assists to lead the LA Lakers to the NBA championship and win NBA Finals MVP as a rookie.

Of course, Hall-of-Famer Jamaal Wilkes helped with 37 points and 10 rebounds, but Johnson's performance as a rookie will always be iconic and well-remembered by diehard NBA fans.


Also read: Behind the numbers: 10 incredible stats from Giannis Antetokounmpo's dominant Game 6 performance | 2021 NBA Finals

PREVIOUS 2 / 2
Edited by Arnav Kholkar
Fetching more content...
App download animated image Get the free App now