5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Finals MVP: 1985
His name is synonymous with the famous hook shot he perfected. After winning a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar requested a trade in 1975 and ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would spend the final 14 years of his NBA career.
While in LA, Kareem became one of the most accomplished players not just in Lakers history, but in NBA history. He won five championships with the Lake Show and his six regular season MVP awards remain the most by any single player.
In his later years with the Lakers, Kareem was fortunate to be surrounded with supremely talented teammates like Magic Johnson. It was the addition of Magic that helped the Lakers break a seven-year Finals drought when they won the championship in 1980. But in ’80 and ’82, Kareem was unable to secure the Finals MVP over his star teammate.
Some may argue that Kareem should have taken home the award in ’80 due to his statistical edge. But the reality is that he did not win his first Finals MVP with the Lakers until 1985, when LA defeated the Boston Celtics in six games.
In that series, Kareem put up 25.7 points per game on 60% shooting, posting 36 points in a pivotal Game 5 with the series tied 2-2. At 38 years old, he became the oldest player to ever win a Finals MVP. The way he demonstrated his mastery of the low post game at an advanced age earns him fifth place on our list.