Kansas only program to produce three different NBA Finals MVPs
In the annals of momentous NBA feats, nothing stands out quite like winning The Finals. Hoisting that Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy sets the all-time greats apart from their contemporaries, many of those who came before them and even players in the future.
Few professional basketball players can call themselves NBA champions, and fewer still can claim the title of Finals MVP. Michael Jordan earned that label six times in the 1990s to give him the most all-time (the award didn’t become official until 1969 — sorry, Bill Russell).
But did you know no college basketball program has produced more Finals MVPs than Kansas?
The NBA’s history account tweeted out that nugget Friday morning.
Many on Twitter guessed North Carolina or UCLA were the only program to turn out three different Finals MVPs. (Check out the replies on the above Tweet for some entertaining answers.)
However, Jayhawks Wilt Chamberlain (1972, Los Angeles Lakers), Jo Jo White (1976, Boston Celtics) and Paul Pierce (2008, Boston Celtics) made KU the winner of this category.
“Wilt the Stilt” won his second NBA championship in 1972, having led the Philadelphia 76ers to the promised land in 1967, before the Finals MVP award existed.
The 7-foot-2 legend averaged 14.7 points and 21.0 rebounds in the ’72 playoffs for the Lakers. Against the Knicks in the championship round, he had 12 points in a Game 1 loss before L.A. took the next four and he put up 23, 26, 12 and 24 to close it out.
White, a two-time NBA champion with Boston, picked up his Finals MVP honor in his second title run.
A 6-foot-3 guard from KU, White averaged 22.7 points and 5.4 assists in the 1976 playoffs. In a six-game Finals against Phoenix, White scored 33 in a two-point Game 5 victory and averaged 21.7 points for the series.
Teaming with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in Boston for the first time that season, Pierce won his only championship to date in 2008.
The 6-foot-7 small forward averaged 19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.1 steals during the Celtics’ 2008 playoff run. Boston beat the Lakers in six games to win it all, capped by a 17-point/10-assist outing from Pierce that sealed it for the Celtics. “The Truth” averaged 21.8 points in those Finals, made 11 of 28 3-pointers and proved to be a critical play-maker, too, dishing out 6.3 assists per game.
If Pierce decides against retiring this offseason and returns for 2015-16, he could get back to The Finals for the first time since 2010.
But will Kansas be able to add to its list of Finals MVP-winners any time soon? Probably not. If any current Jayhawks in the NBA have a shot at one way down the road, it would be either Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid.
You can safely rule out Brandon Rush in these 2015 NBA Finals, as he’s yet to suit up against the Cavs.
— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.