The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been shaped by several talented players, special instances, moments, and team performances that have made the NBA what it is today. However, basketball fans will never forget their exceptional individual performances, which are not necessarily limited to the players of the team they support.
Nothing is better or bigger in the basketball scene than the yearly NBA finals. Players have become legends and left legacies cast in stone and celebrated by any bookmaker review. Some basketball players stood up to the occasion to elevate themselves above the others, but others succumbed to the pressure and did not reach their expectations.
Notable NBA players
Some of the legends who have left their mark on the NBA finals include:
Michael Jordan with 33.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in thirty-five games. Jordan won six championships and six MVP finals. Known as air Jordan, he went a perfect 6.0 in the final series and won the finals MVP in each appearance. His talent and greatness when playing basketball, have shadowed many other talents, namely Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler and Reggie Miller. All these players missed the opportunity of their life due to Michael Jordan.
His competitiveness sometimes went beyond the average level, especially during his younger days, but his urge to win games often led his team to win. Jordan was never afraid to take the final shot in a balanced game or pass the ball to one of his teammates if this led to making a basket. His flexibility in defense and attack made Jordan one of the best basketball players.
Jordan ranks second all-time scoring average in the finals at 33.6 points every championship and is only second best to Rick Barry who put up 36.3 points in twenty-five fewer finals appearances. A scoring machine who could do almost everything in the game – rebound, pass and defend – coupled with his willingness to win, has made Michael Jordan the greatest NBA career player of all time. His talents mostly outshined that of his colleagues and opponents alike during the six occasions he made it to the finals.
Lebron James remains basketball’s crown jewel
Lebron James ranks second in points, second in assists, second in steals and fourth in rebounds in the finals. LeBron won four championships and four MVP finals. Still an active basketball player, LeBron can add to his past achievements. Whether he makes it to another final or wins a title, this player still makes a strong case to finish second on the list of the best NBA performances with the number of championships he won, reaching the finals ten times and always winning the Finals MVPs each time the team he played for won the championship series.
Some opine that Lebron deserved more Finals MVPs, notwithstanding that his team lost. A clear example is the 2015 Finals, wherein LeBron played by himself due to the injuries incurred by Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. He still took the dynastic Golden State Warriors to six games procuring an average of 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists. These statistics are incredible when one considers the defense the player was facing, which was instrumental in keeping him from getting higher scores.
Lebron has seen many championship series with four rings to his name and has played beneath his typical performance only once in 2011 against the Dallas Mavericks.
Magic Johnson is also highly ranked
Magic Johnson is considered the best point guard ever. Johnson was also a prolific winner, winning the NCAA championship in college. He followed this feat with five titles in his NBA career, three of which he was chosen as the Finals MVP. At the age of twenty years old in 1979-80, he led the Lakers to a championship averaging 21.5 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 8.7 assists, covering a six-game victory for Los Angeles. Further into his career, Johnson would win another four titles with the Lakers. Despite some low points in the Finals series, Johnson would still advance to become one of the best championship-series performers the NBA has ever seen.
Top Scorer Abdul – Jabbar leads the scores
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is currently the leading scorer in NBA history. Abdul-Jabbar ranks third all-time Finals points, fifth in rebounds, and first in blocks when featuring in the third most Finals games ever, a tally of fifty-six games. This player won two Finals MVPs at his peak, which finals came fourteen seasons apart – the first in 1971 and then in 1985. This also means that Abdul-Jabbar was the best player in the championship series twice but fourteen years apart!! This is quite a feat when one considers that most basketball players do not go beyond or last five seasons. Abdul-Jabbar was actively playing and dominating the game in his teens and early thirties at the highest level of the competitions.
In his first Finals MVP series, he averaged 27.0 points and 18.5 rebounds in an outstanding four-game trashing for the Milwaukee Bucks over the Baltimore Bullets. Abdul-Jabbar is one of the best centers ever played the game. He featured in several Finals games and was the best player on the floor.
All hail King Shaq!
Shaquille O’Neal was a strong force to reckon with during his playing time in the NBA. Considered the most solid and dominant center who played the game at least during his prime years, he led opposing teams to often force triple-team him or resort to fouling him. Unfortunately, O’Neal’s performances and play fell short of expectations due to injuries and his negligence of not staying in shape. Despite these drawbacks, he still managed to play one more championship run, obtaining the fourth ring in his career in 2006. Without a doubt, O’Neal was almost unstoppable in his heydays, and if he had taken care of himself and his physical health, he would have been listed upwards in the table of the best performers of the NBA.
Other notable NBA mentions
Other all-time great players in the NBA include Tim Duncan, a winning player who banged up five championships and was named Finals MVPs on three occasions in 1999, 2003, and 2005. Larry Bird maybe under-appreciated the current period but is an NBA legend, as anyone from the eighties will testify. Bird always rose to the occasion when his team (Celtics) needed him most.
There have been some memorable performances in the finals over the last years, with some players performing beyond the limits of other players, colleagues or opponents. History is made and written; however, future finals and performers will surely emerge, surpassing past performers and re-write history.
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