Writer: Jameson White
For the last three decades, there has been some incredible talent roaming the NBA. Of the incredible talent, the best have won rings and an even smaller percentage of them have won Finals NBA. I will be starting a series of articles each week, ranking the ten Finals MVPs for each decade. Here is the second of those with the MVPs of the 2000’s:
The Top Finals MVP performances of the 00’s, ranked from 10 to 1:
10. Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons, 2004
Credit to si.com
In 2004, the Detroit Pistons defeated the 3-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, a team that had just acquired NBA legends Karl Malone and Gary Payton, 4 games to 1. The main reason for Chauncey Billups being so low on this rankings list is because this championship for the Pistons was an incredible all-around team effort. Billups posted a stat line of 21.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.2 APG, and 1.2 SPG on 50.9% shooting from the field in 38.4 MPG. Billups won MVP of this series, however, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace kept 3-time defending NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal in check this series, along with the rest of their team who displayed hounding defense and ferocious rebounding.
9. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics, 2008
Credit to CBS Connecticut
In the 2008 NBA Finals, a long-time Finals rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics was renewed. The Celtics won in six games, mostly due to the trio of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. In this series, Pierce won Finals MVP with a stat line of 21.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.3 APG, and 1.2 SPG on 43% shooting from the field in 38.8 MPG.
8. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs, 2007
Credit to si.com
In 2007, the San Antonio Spurs took on the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, sweeping them in four games. In this series, Tony Parker cemented his status as a Spurs legend, displaying an outstanding offensive arsenal that was rare for a 6’2” point guard without a vertical jump. In this series, Parker averaged 24.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, and 0.8 SPG on 56.8% shooting from the field in 37.8 MPG. As usual, San Antonio deployed its team-first approach, causing Parker’s impact on the series look diluted, much like in the cases of the previously mentioned Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce.
7. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs, 2005
Credit to RantSports
In 2005, the San Antonio Spurs took on and defeated the Detroit Pistons in seven games. In one of the toughest and grittiest Finals series ever played, Both teams were by far the top two defensive teams in the association, playing stingy styles that would suffocate opponents offenses. In this series, Duncan posted averages of 20.6 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.4 SPG, and 2.1 BPG on 41.9% shooting in 40.7 MPG.
6. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, 2009
Credit to Basketball Images
In the first of back to back titles for the Los Angeles Lakers, they took on the Orlando Magic, defeating them in five games. Kobe Bryant was, well, Kobe Bryant. He averaged 32.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.4 BPG on 43% shooting from the field in 43.8 MPG. Some may have expected to see him higher on this list, however, there was simply more remarkable Finals performances ahead.
5. Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat, 2006
Credit to RealGM
In what was sort of a “coming out party” for Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat, they defeated the Dallas Mavericks. This series was the last of titles for legendary center Shaquille O’Neal and the first of Wade’s career. In this series, Wade averaged 34.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 2.7 SPG, and 1.0 BPG on 46.8% shooting in 43.5 MPG.
4. Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers, 2002
Credit to Hoops Habit
In 2002, the Los Angeles Lakers completed their three-peat, sweeping the New Jersey Nets in four games. Shaquille O’Neal averaged 36.3 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 2.5 BPG on 59.5% shooting in 41.5 MPG. He would be higher on this list, if not for himself and another NBA legend, yet, stats alone place him in the top four of the best Finals MVPs of the 2000’s.
3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs, 2003
Credit to NBA.com
In the 2003 NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan, defeated the New Jersey Nets in six games. Duncan was a dominant presence on both ends of the floor, leading the way for the Spurs’ second NBA Championship, along with his second Finals MVP award. He averaged 24.2 PPG, 17.0 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 5.3 BPG on 49.5% shooting in 43.8 MPG. Duncan’s performance displayed what made him the greatest power forward of all time, as he made a resounding effort to control the glass, protect the rim, involve his teammates, and destroy opponents with his low-post scoring.
2. Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers, 2001
Credit to SI.com
In the second of back-to-back titles for the Los Angeles Lakers, they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in five games. Shaquille O’Neal was a force to be reckoned with in all facets of the game, as he drew attention away from his teammates, allowing for a bombardment of 3-point shots for the Lakers. In this series, Shaq posted averages of 33.0 PPG, 15.8 RPG, 4.8 APG, 0.4 SPG, and 3.4 BPG on 57.3% shooting from the field in 45.0 MPG. This Finals performance, statistics wise, could only be topped by his incredible Finals outing just one season before.
1. Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers, 2000
Credit to SI.com
In 2000, the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Indiana Pacers. In the first NBA Finals trip for the Lakers with Shaquille O’Neal, they defeated the Pacers in six games. This NBA Finals was a reiteration of what separated Shaq from every other player to play the game of basketball; his blend of size, skill, and athleticism made him the most unstoppable force in the history of the NBA. He averaged 38.0 PPG, 16.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 2.7 BPG on an incredibly efficient 61.1% shooting from the field.