Stephen Curry’s burden of never winning Finals MVP despite multiple championships has finally been lifted after playing (and prevailing) in his sixth championship series – which really adds to his legacy.
Others were not so lucky. With Curry off the list, who are the best players who won the championship but never received Finals MVP accolades?
We put together a ranking for that… in which we don’t include Bill Russell and others who dominated before the award was created in 1969.
Finals stats: 16.3 points, 8.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds in 11 games
Known as the triple-double king before Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson won a championship in his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks back in 1971. At that point, Robertson was 32 years old, and already past his prime. His teammate Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) led the way for an MVP and Finals MVP in the Bucks’ third season in the league.
Finals stats: 16.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists in 13 games
The Big Ticket won his lone MVP during the 2003-04 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he never got a chance to claim one in the Finals during his championship season with the Boston Celtics. Garnett averaged a double-double of 18.2 points and 13 rebounds, but Paul Pierce won the Finals MVP honors with 21.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. Garnett was the heart and soul of that team during its playoff run, though.
Finals stats: 25.5 points, 7.5 rebounds. 4.5 assists in 22 games
Dr. J won his singular NBA title in 1983, sweeping the Lakers after losing to them the season prior. Despite Erving’s extraordinary career in Philadelphia, Moses Malone was the piece that got the team over the hump for the championship. Malone won the Finals MVP in his first season with the Sixers after averaging 25.8 points and 18.0 rebounds in the championship series. Erving was not at his peak at that point in his career, and Malone was the man who carried the Sixers to the promised land.
Finals stats: 13.5 points, 9.4 rebounds. 2.4 blocks in 11 games
The Admiral’s won two titles, but he never really had a shot to win a Finals MVP. Once Tim Duncan came onto the scene, he was clearly the better player of the Twin Towers, and overshadowed Robinson.
Finals stats: 19.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists in 35 games
Pippen went on to win six championships with the Chicago Bulls, but there was no way Jordan was losing a single Finals MVP to anyone else. Pip is considered to be one of the best small forwards in history, but playing next to the guy most tout as the GOAT leaves you with no shot at MVP accolades.
Finals stats: 15.4 points, 7.8 assists, 5.8 rebounds in 16 games
Jason Kidd made the Finals in back-to-back years with the New Jersey Nets in 2002 and 2003, but lost to the Kobe Bryant–Shaquille O’Neal L.A. tandem and the Tim Duncan-led Spurs. The Hall-of-Fame point guard got his one title in the 2011 Finals when the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks shocked the super team Miami Heat.
Finals stats: 20.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks in 16 games
Had this been during the social media era, the Big E may very well have won the Finals MVP. Hayes’ Washington Bullets beat the Seattle SuperSonics in seven games, but oddly, Wes Unseld won the Finals’ MVP. Both Hayes and Bob Dandridge averaged 20.7 and 20.4 respectively, but Unseld somehow came away with MVP honors averaging 9.0 in the series.
Finals stats: 8.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds in 17 games
The Glove made the Finals with three different teams but was finally able to win a title as a role player during his twilight years with the Miami Heat. During his prime in Seattle, he went head-to-head with Michael Jordan and posted 18 points, 7 assists, and 6.3 rebounds in six games in the 1996 NBA Finals. However, his teammate Shawn Kemp statistically was the dominant force for the Sonics, as Kemp posted 23.3 points and 10 rebounds.
Finals stats: 24.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists in 15 games
Clyde the Glide made three trips (’90, ’92, ’95) to the Finals, but was never the best player on the winning team in any of those years. His Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Bad Boy Pistons in 1990, and then again to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in 1992. Drexler did get his ring with the Houston Rockets in 1995, but by that time he was already playing second fiddle to Hakeem Olajuwon.
Finals stats: 25.0 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.0 blocks in six games
Anthony Davis made the Finals during the 2020 bubble season and was a huge reason the LA Lakers managed to win their 17th championship. His teammate LeBron James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists, so it’s not shocking Davis had no chance to claim the MVP award.
Finals stats: 12.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks in 20 games
Bob McAdoo was a star in the 1970s with the Buffalo Braves and the New York Knicks. However, he never got a taste of the Finals until he played with the Lakers in L.A., where he won two titles. By that point in his career, he was a solid role player playing behind guys like Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Finals stats per game: 17.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks in 31 games
The Celtics legend played in five Finals for Boston, winning three times. Playing with Larry Bird, McHale faced long odds to win any Finals MVP, though. During the 1986 Finals, McHale had his best shot, averaging 25.8 points and 8.5 rebounds. However, Bird averaged a near triple-double in that series, posting 24 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.5 assists.
Finals stats per game: 13.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 25 games
The man known as Jesus Shuttlesworth won two titles, one with Boston as a member of the Big Three, and one as a role player in Miami. Allen is considered one of the best shooters in league history, but his career will be defined mostly by his championship-saving three with Miami against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 Finals. His best shot at winning a Finals MVP was in 2008 when he averaged 20.3 points and 5.0 rebounds. He lost out to Finals MVP teammates Paul Pierce, although Allen shot the ball with better efficiency.