Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; NBA former player Bill Russel gives San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) the NBA Finals MVP trophy after game five of the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at AT&T Center. The Spurs beat the Heat 104-87 to win the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Who ranks as the best NBA Finals MVPs in the history of the San Antonio Spurs?
The San Antonio Spurs have been dominant for the past two decades. They’ve won five NBA championships, all of which came with Tim Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich on the team. Players like David Robinson, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were among the top contributors on most of these squads, who are known as some of the best in league history.
In each NBA Finals, an MVP of the series is given, so the Spurs are left with five. Each player put on memorable performances, some of which were all-time great; one even won three times.
Whose NBA Finals MVP outing was the best, though? The five winners were closely linked, but can be separated from certain games and overall statistical numbers.
5. Tim Duncan (2005)
Tim Duncan will be featured plenty here, given he won the NBA Finals MVP Award in three of the San Antonio Spurs’ five title wins. The last of this trio of hardware was won in the 2005 Finals.
Duncan dominated the 2005 Finals, maybe not in the way he did in 1999 and 2003, but he still put up 20 points and over 14 rebounds per game. This was highlighted by a 24 point, 17 rebound outing during Game 1, against the Detroit Pistons.
The defensive presence was also there, as starting big men for the Pistons, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace, combined for just 11 points in this game. Rasheed, who played power forward, only averaged 10.9 points.
For the series, Duncan averaged 2.1 blocks per game. It wasn’t close to the amount he put up in 2003, which was otherworldly, but still an impressive number.
After Duncan’s final MVP win, future Spurs to win this award represented the future of the franchise. This is with the upcoming two players:
Next: Kawhi Leonard
4. Kawhi Leonard (2014)
2014 became the coming out party for Kawhi Leonard, who had steadily progressed with the San Antonio Spurs, over his first three seasons. His shining moment came in the 2014 NBA Finals, however, putting on a notable performance against LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Leonard loaded up the stat sheet, averaging 6.4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks. This was topped by an eye-popping 29 points in Game 3, which officially saw the San Diego State product make a name for himself. He did it with Miami’s best covering him, shooting an astounding 79 percent from the field.
To top it off, Leonard had an impressive Game 5, which closed out the series. He put up 22 points and 10 rebounds on 70 percent shooting, leading the way to the Spurs capturing their fifth NBA championship.
If this series had been turned upside down, James would have walked out with the MVP, as he had 28 points and 7 rebounds per game. He dominated for the Heat, but the work of the supporting cast didn’t prove to be enough.
Leonard may not have been the best player in the 2014 NBA Finals, but he was the guy for the Spurs. It turned him into a superstar and, by 2017, the new face of the franchise.
Next: Tony Parker
3. Tony Parker (2007)
For the first time, someone not named Tim Duncan won the NBA Finals MVP for the San Antonio Spurs. This was Tony Parker, who used this series to take another step toward being one of the best point guards in the league. He was also the first European to win this award.
Parker was the leading scorer of this series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 24.5 points, which topped LeBron James. The Frenchman was also a red-hot 56 percent shooting from the field, including 57 percent from beyond the arc.
The best game for Parker came during Game 1 of the series, putting up 27 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in a 85-76 victory. This was the first victory for the Spurs, going on to sweep the series.
A case can be made for Duncan winning his fourth Finals MVP. He averaged 18.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 blocks. These stats were built up with two double-doubles.
However, Parker looked like the star with his highlight-reel scoring that made him an even bigger name. It gave him hardware and his own spot in NBA history, in what came in one of the most lopsided Finals of this millennium.
Next: Tim Duncan
2. Tim Duncan (1999)
Tim Duncan’s first two MVPs with the San Antonio Spurs are just inches apart from each other. Historic performances were put up in 2003, but 1999 was still incredible for the young big man.
Duncan was a force in the paint, with the New York Knicks having no answer for him. He had 27.4 points, 14 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks per game, which along with the dominance in the regular season, got him on the map as one of the stars of the NBA. It came at age 22, too, as he looked like the next dominant big man and a future hall of famer.
It started with Game 1; Duncan put up 33 points, 16 rebounds, and 2 blocks while shooting 61 percent from the field. This only began his impact on the series, which continued with a dominant Game 4 of 28 points and 18 rebounds. David Robinson also had 14 points and 17 rebounds, which was just one way that the Spurs went over-the-top in their defeat of the Knicks.
A young Duncan won his first of three NBA Finals MVPs in 1999, only going on to dominate the 2000’s with the Spurs. One better performance came, however, to immortalize him in NBA history.
Next: Tim Duncan
1. Tim Duncan (2003)
Statistically, the most impressive of Tim Duncan’s three MVP Awards may have been in the 2003 NBA Finals. He dominated the low-post, both offensively and defensively.
The combination of Duncan and David Robinson towered over the New Jersey Nets, which had them controlling the paint and protecting the rim. Most notably, Duncan had a ridiculous 5.3 blocks per game. The Nets shot just 37 percent from the field for the series, with Richard Jefferson as the only starter to go over 40 percent.
The Big Fundamental, who finished with rebounding totals of 20, 12, 16, 17, 17 and 20, was the star of the two big men, however. The Nets had no answer for him, with the 20-rebound game also featuring 32 points, 7 blocks and 6 assists. It was a loaded stat line that probably could have won him the MVP alone, but factor in the gaudy rebounding lines and the second near 30-20 performance in Game 5, and it one more game: Game 6 saw Duncan nearly put up a quadruple-double — 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 blocks.
The dominance of Duncan in this 2003 series is difficult to argue with, which had him out on one of the best Finals MVP stat lines in NBA history. It has him up there with Shaquille O’Neal in 2000, Michael Jordan in 1993, and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1995.