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 Finals. 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. The award was originally a black trophy with a gold basketball-shaped sphere at the top, similar to the Larry O'Brien Trophy, until a new trophy was introduced in 2005.
Since its inception, the award has been given to 28 different players. Michael Jordan is a record six-time award winner.Earvin Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Tim Duncan won the award three times in their careers. Jordan and O'Neal are the only players to win the award in three consecutive seasons (Jordan accomplished the feat on two separate occasions). Johnson is the only rookie ever to win the award, as well as the youngest at 20 years old.Jerry West, the first ever awardee, is the only person to win the award while being on the losing team in the NBA Finals.Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James won the award twice. Olajuwon, Bryant, and James have won the award in two consecutive seasons. Abdul-Jabbar is the only player to win the award for two different teams. Olajuwon of Nigeria, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1993, Tony Parker of France (born in Belgium), and Dirk Nowitzki of Germany are the only 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. Cedric Maxwell is the only Finals MVP winner eligible for the Hall of Fame who has not been voted in.