The NBA Finals are the biggest stage of the world’s greatest basketball league. Logically, performing at a high level on this platform is a huge boost for any player’s legacy, and some NBA superstars have put on some incredible performances in the NBA Finals.
The Finals MVP award is arguably the biggest individual award a player can win, though the regular-season MVP award recognizes a more consistent level of performance. Some role players have won the Finals MVP award, which simply would not happen with the regular-season prize.
In this article, we will give you the five-best NBA Finals MVP performances in the 21st century. It promises to be a list full of great and legendary players.
Without further ado, let us take a look.
#5 Kevin Durant – 2017 NBA Finals MVP
After joining the 73-9 Golden State Warriors ahead of the 2016-17 NBA season, Kevin Durant received lots of criticism and he was pressured to win the NBA championship with Golden State.
They then swept the West on their way to the NBA Finals, where they defeated LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. Durant won the Finals MVP award after averaging 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game and hitting timely shots in the series.
Durant’s average of points per game in the 2017 NBA Finals is the second-highest in the 21st century and the sixth-highest in NBA history.
#4 Dwyane Wade – 2006 NBA Finals MVP
The 2006 NBA Finals saw the Miami Heat, with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal, face off against Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks. O’Neal was in his second season with the Heat, coached by Pat Riley. The team took things a step further from the previous year, when the Detroit Pistons had eliminated the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Dallas Mavericks arrived at the 2006 NBA Finals after taking down reigning champions San Antonio Spurs in the second round and Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns in the Western Finals.
Dallas stormed to a 2-0 lead in a series that looked difficult to overcome for the Heat. But Wade exploded offensively and Miami, also assisted by Gary Payton’s timely shot in Game 3, managed to win four consecutive games and eventually secure the championship.
It was O’Neal’s fourth NBA championship and Wade’s first, and the latter was the deserving winner of the Finals MVP honors. The young superstar averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in the series.