Who has the most Finals appearances in NBA history?

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Six
Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Six

Two NBA superstars in the form of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker are currently battling it out in what is both’s first NBA Finals series. Over the league’s history, a range of NBA legends have made it a habit of leading their teams to fight it out for championships, with LeBron James having registered the most number of Finals appearances among active players.

James has led all three of his teams to the Finals throughout his career, and is well on track to finish with the highest number of NBA Finals appearances in the league’s history. Regardless, the LA Lakers’ superstar trails two Boston Celtics’ legends from the 70s as far as overall NBA Finals appearances are concerned.

Players with most NBA Finals appearances in league’s history

It is none other than 11-time NBA champion and Celtic’s legend Bill Russell, who currently leads the league with a total of 70 NBA Finals appearances. The dominant center and 12-time All-Star led the Boston Celtics to a total of 12 NBA Finals, losing just once.

Bill Russell (left) and Red Auerbach
Bill Russell (left) and Red Auerbach

Boston Celtics’ Sam Jones started a career a year later than Russell and went on to play in 11 NBA Finals series, making a total of 64 appearances to finish second on the all-time list. Jones was a prolific shooting guard who averaged almost 18 points through his 64 NBA Finals appearances, with Bill Russell averaging 16.4 points along with a whopping 24.5 rebounds per game.

Statistically, Bill Russell is also the player with the highest win ratio as far as the NBA Finals series are concerned. He won 11 out of 12, and was a five-time MVP who is often regarded as the prime reason behind the Boston Celtic’s most successful dynasty till date. Among the active players is LeBron James, who has the highest Finals appearances and is fourth on the all-time list with 55 NBA Finals appearances.

He will be able to trump former L.A. Lakers legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who played in 10 NBA Finals series like LeBron and finished with 56 Finals appearances. The top five are rounded off by none other than Jerry West, who had 55 Finals appearances, with Tom Heinsohn and Magic Johnson the only other players who have managed at least 50 Finals appearances till date.

Among the top seven was Jerry West, who was the most prolific and averaged 30.2 points during his 55 Finals appearances, with James trailing behind at 28.4. Regardless, the 36-year old still has a number of seasons left in his tank and might as well finish his career with the most NBA Finals appearances in the league’s history.

Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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