NBA Finals: The 10 Most Dominant Finals Performances

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Jun 5, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; A view of the NBA Finals logo on the floor before game one of the 2014 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s June and the NBA Finals are once again in full swing. The Finals are a time when a good player has the opportunity to elevate to greatness and a great player may become legendary.

The cliché that NBA legends are born in the Finals is true. Whether it be fair or not, NBA players are often remembered by how they performed on the biggest stage with everything on the line. The performances of star players in the regular season and leading up the NBA Finals may fade from memory as time passes on, but a dominating performance in the NBA Finals ensures that a player’s legacy will live on as long as basketball is played.

Let’s take a look at the 10 most dominating performances in the NBA Finals.

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Tags: Dwyane Wade Hakeem Olajuwon Kobe Bryant Larry Bird Magic Johnson Michael Jordan Nba Finals Shaquille O'neal Tim Duncan

  • Joe Kidd

    Jordan’s final Finals appearance, in 1998, may have been his most “memorable,” but it certainly wasn’t his most dominant, let alone the most dominant in NBA history. Jordan actually shot just .427 from the field (.308 on threes) in the 1998 NBA Finals, with an average of merely 2.3 assists. His NBA Finals numbers proved far better during the first three-peat (1991-1993) than the second three-peat (1996-1998), and all three of Jordan’s NBA Finals from 1991-1993 should have made this list. His 1997 Finals may have been deserving as well (although only behind his 1991-1993 Finals), but his 1998 Finals was hardly dominant from a historical perspective, even with that historic 45-point Game Six. And really, Jordan’s 1993 Finals probably should have ranked number-one on the list; averaging 41.0 points per game as a guard in the Finals? That’s almost obscene, especially when coming with a .508 field goal percentage, a .400 three-point field goal percentage, 8.5 rebounds per game (again, as a guard), and 6.3 assists.

    Also, Orlando didn’t exactly “contain” LeBron James in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals: he averaged 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.0 assists, shooting .487 from the field and averaging an absurd 15.7 free throw attempts per game! James scored at least 35 points in five of the six games, surpassing 40 three times. He really fared better versus the Magic in those playoffs than Kobe Bryant, who shot a modest .430 from the field in the 2009 Finals. The difference? Bryant was playing for a much better team, with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum as big men and Phil Jackson on the sidelines.

    Also, why is there no one from before 1984? What about Jerry West, who proved so dominant versus Boston in the 1969 Finals that he received the MVP Award in a losing effort. He averaged 37.9 points over the seven games, including 42 points, 12 assists, and 13 rebounds in Game Seven.