The Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award (formerly known as the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award) is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given since the 1969 NBA Finals. The award is decided by a panel of nine media members, who cast vote after the conclusion of the final round. The person with the highest votes wins the award. In at least one NBA Finals, fans balloting on NBA.com accounted for the tenth vote. Originally, the award was a black trophy with a gold basketball-shaped sphere at the top, similar to the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, until a smaller trophy was introduced in 2005.
Since its inception, the award has been given to 27 different players. Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships from 1991 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998, is the only player to win the award six times. Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Tim Duncan all won the award three times in their career while Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kobe Bryant won the award twice. Jordan and O'Neal are the only players to win the award in three consecutive seasons (Jordan accomplished the feat on two separate occasions). Olajuwon and Bryant have won the award in two consecutive seasons. Abdul-Jabbar is the only player to win the award for two different teams, first with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971, then with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1985. Johnson is the only rookie ever to win the award when he won it with the Lakers in 1980. Jerry West, the first ever awardee, won the award while being on the losing team in the NBA Finals. Olajuwon of Nigeria, who was a naturalized U.S. citizen since 1993, Tim Duncan of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Tony Parker of France (born in Belgium) and Dirk Nowitzki of Germany are the only four international players to win the award. Duncan is an American citizen, but is considered an "international" player by the NBA because he was not born in one of the fifty states or Washington, D.C. Parker and Nowitzki are the only winners to have been trained totally outside the U.S.; Olajuwon played college basketball at Houston and Duncan at Wake Forest.
On February 14, 2009, during the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the award would be renamed the "Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award" in honor of 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell.
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... Denotes player who is still active in the NBA * Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Player (X) Denotes the number of times the player has received the Finals MVP ...
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