Could Nikola Jokic add an NBA Finals MVP to pair with his two regular-season editions?
Or could Jimmy Butler make history and be the driving force behind an eight-seed winning the title?
Maybe even a Caleb Martin or Bruce Brown archetype emerges to provide a much-needed impact beyond what the stars are expected to contribute.
However the 2023 NBA Finals plays out, there will be a new Finals MVP to add to the league’s all-time list. Here’s everything to know about the award since its creation in the late 1960s.
Who won the first ever NBA Finals MVP?
The first ever NBA Finals MVP was awarded to Jerry West in 1968-69. West suited up for the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost the series 4-3 to the Boston Celtics. In that series, West averaged 37.9 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 49% from the field (96-for-196) and 83.9% from the foul line (73-for-87).
Has a losing player ever won NBA Finals MVP?
There has been only one losing player to win the NBA Finals MVP – Jerry West. It happened in the aforementioned series in which West and the Lakers lost 4-3 to the Celtics in the 1969 NBA Finals.
Who has won the most NBA Finals MVPs?
Michael Jordan has won the most NBA Finals MVPs with six, each coming with the Chicago Bulls.
LeBron James has won the award four times – the only player to do so on three different teams – while Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan all won it three times.
How many NBA players have won Finals MVP?
There have been 54 NBA players who have won Finals MVP since the 1968-69 campaign. Here’s a list of each winner in reverse chronological order:
2019-20: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
2016-17: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
2015-16: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2014-15: Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
2013-14: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
2012-13: LeBron James, Miami Heat
2011-12: LeBron James, Miami Heat
2010-11: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
2009-10: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2008-09: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2007-08: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
2006-07: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
2005-06: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
2004-05: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
2003-04: Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
2002-03: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
2001-02: Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
2000-01: Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
1999-00: Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
1998-99: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
1997-98: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
1996-97: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
1995-96: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
1994-95: Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets
1993-94: Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets
1992-93: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
1991-92: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
1990-91: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
1989-90: Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons
1988-89: Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons
1987-88: James Worthy, Los Angeles Lakers
1986-87: Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1985-86: Larry Bird, Boston Celtics
1984-85: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles Lakers
1983-84: Larry Bird, Boston Celtics
1982-83: Moses Malone, Philadelphia 76ers
1981-82: Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1980-81: Cedric Maxwell, Boston Celtics
1979-80: Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1978-79: Dennis Johnson, Seattle SuperSonics
1977-78: Wes Unseld, Washington Bullets
1976-77: Bill Walton, Portland Trail Blazers
1975-76: Jo Jo White, Boston Celtics
1974-75: Rick Barry, Golden State Warriors
1973-74: John Havlicek, Boston Celtics
1972-73: Willis Reed, New York Knicks
1971-72: Wilt Chamberlain, Los Angeles Lakers
1970-71: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks
1969-70: Willis Reed, New York Knicks
1968-69: Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers
Has an NBA player won regular-season MVP and Finals MVP in the same season?
There have been 15 instances where the winner of the regular-season NBA MVP also won the Finals edition. The most recent came in 2012 and 2013 when LeBron James achieved the feat in consecutive seasons, though Michael Jordan has done it the most times (four).
Here’s a chronological look starting from 1970, when Willis Reed became the first player to do so with the New York Knicks:
1970: Willis Reed
1971: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
1983: Moses Malone
1984: Larry Bird
1986: Larry Bird
1987: Magic Johnson
1991: Michael Jordan
1992: Michael Jordan
1994: Hakeem Olajuwon
1996: Michael Jordan
1998: Michael Jordan
2000: Shaquille O'Neal
2003: Tim Duncan
2012: LeBron James
2013: LeBron James