MVP Lead1

There’s an easy way to cement your place in NBA history: by, not only winning the title, but being named finals MVP. Ok, so maybe it isn’t so easy to do. But in the past 25 years, an elite group of players have done just that—they’ve taken their teams to the promise land, and, driven by the hunger to win, have elevated their game even further to make sure their squad comes out on top.

As we get set for this year’s finals showdown between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, lets take a moment to appreciate the finals heroics of the past, and the sneakers that were along for the ride. From Jordan's infamous on-court choices to brands who no longer even make it to the hardwood, here are at The Sneakers Worn by the Last 25 NBA Finals MVPs.

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James Worthy 1988

No. 1 - James Worthy x New Balance P790 Worthy

Year: 1988
Team: L.A. Lakers
Stats: 22.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists

With an average of 22.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in seven games, “Big Game James” led the Lakers to their first championship against the Detroit Pistons. The seven-time NBA All-Star from the Tar Heels and #1 draft pick in ‘82 guaranteed his MVP spot in ‘88 with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in Game 7 of the Finals. The lesser known member of the Lakers next to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, Worthy rocked the era-defining New Balance P790 “Worthy” with a perforated white leather upper and high-top build.

Joe Dumars 1989

No. 2 - Joe Dumars x adidas Torsion Artillery

Year: 1989
Team: Detroit Pistons
Stats: 27.3 points and 4 assists

Joe Dumars wore the adidas Torsion Artillery on his way to the 1989 MVP title, averaging 27.3 points per game for the Pistons. Michael Jordan called him the best defender in the NBA after the following season for good reason, Joe was as aggressive as his technically efficient sneaker on the court with a career total of 16,401 points, 4,612 assists, 2,203 rebounds, and 902 rebounds.

Isiah Thomas 1990

No. 3 - Isiah Thomas x Asics Gel Spotlyte

Year: 1990
Team: Detroit Pistons
Stats: 27.6 points and 7.0 assists

The Piston’s point guard took the NBA MVP in 1990 the year after back-to-back championships to the Lakers the year previously and the Trail Blazers the following. With an average of 27.6 points per game, 7.0 assists, and 5.2 rebounds, Thomas was awarded the honor in the Asics GEL-Spotlyte.

MJ 1991

No. 4 - Michael Jordan x Air Jordan VI

Year: 1991
Team: Chicago Bulls
Stats: 31.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 11.4 assists

Michael Jordan, the leading scorer of the NBA Finals, scored 31.3 points per game against the Lakers to help the Chicago Bulls win their first-ever title while rocking the Air Jordan VIs. After seven years in the league, MJ finally snagged the MVP honor along with his fifth scoring title.

MJ 1992

No. 5 - Michael Jordan x Air Jordan VII

Year: 1992
Team: Chicago Bulls
Stats: 35.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists

The Air Jordan VII’s were released for the 1991-92 season where MJ went for the second championship in a row, introducing the huarache technology and taking out the visible air sole from previous models. Though Clyde Drexler was noted as Jordan’s top rival that year, Michael took the Finals Most Valuable Player by dominating from the start by breaking the record for most points in a first half in the playoffs.

MJ 1993

No. 6 - Michael Jordan x Air Jordan VIII

Year: 1993
Team: L.A. Lakers
Stats: 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists

For the third straight year, MJ lead the Bulls to the NBA Finals. And for the third straight year, His Airness was crowned the finals MVP. Having won the award in the previous two AJ models (AJ VI and AJ VII), Jordan pulled out the tricked-out AJ VIII for 1993 finals against the Phoenix Suns. Complete with anti-inversion straps, and a polycarbonate torsion plate, the shoe not only looked great, but it was a true winner on the court. Just ask MJ, who dropped over 41 points per game against the Suns.

Hakeem Olajuwon 1994

No. 7 - Hakeem Olajuwon x LA Gear Lights

Year: 1994
Team: Houston Rockets
Stats: 26.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks

As if Hakeem Olajuwon wasn't already a star, in 1994, the legendary big man strapped on a pair of the LA Gear Lights and really took over the spotlight. In a series that went the distance, Hakeem willed the Rockets to victory against New York. He utilized the stability provided by his shoes, and scored nearly 27 points and 10 rebounds, earning him the finals MVP.

Hakeem Olajuwon 1995

No. 8 - Hakeem Olajuwon x Spalding The Dream

Year: 1995
Team: Houston Rockets
Stats:  32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 2.0 steals

Hakeem returned to the finals again in 1995, this time with a different pair of shoes. Making the switch from LA Gear to Spalding, Olajuwon wore the Spalding The Dream shoes, as Houston took on Shaquille O'Neal and the Magic. Whether it was the shoes or not, we're not sure, but Hakeem did up his stats compared to the previous year. He averaged 32 points and 11 rebounds—more than enough to win him the MVP award for the second time in a row.

MJ 1996

No. 9 -  Michael Jordan x Air Jordan XI

Year: 1996
Team: Chicago Bulls
Stats: 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals

The Air Jordan XI marked the first time patent leather hit the basketball court, resulting in instant success. Speaking of success, Michael Jordan found himself back in center stage in 1996 after a two-year hiatus. Up against the Seattle Sonics, MJ showed off the AJ XI's carbon fiber spring plate, as he soared over the defense. Nearly 20 years later, the AJ XI still remains a favorite game-day shoe amongst pro ballers.

MJ 1997

No. 10 - Michael Jordan x Air Jordan XII

Year: 1997
Team: Chicago Bulls
Stats: 32.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists

Some say he was poisoned, others say it was just the flu. Either way you look at it, MJ showed incredible will power in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, as he rose from the dead and left it all out on the court for his team. Not only was "The Flu Game" one of the most incredible single-game performances in NBA history, but the game helped cement the Air Jordan XII in our memories forever. The shoe's ultra-responsive Zoom Air cushioning helped MJ stay on his feet. His Airness took care of the rest.

MJ 1998

No. 11 - Michael Jordan x Air Jordan XIV "Last Shot"

Year: 1998
Team: Chicago Bulls
Stats: 33.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists

In the final seconds of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan dribbled the ball up the court, scoped out the defense, put the moves on Utah's Bryon Russell, and hit one of the greatest game-winners of all time. As he soared through the air in celebration, it gave the rest of us a chance to appreciate the AJ XIV’s aerodynamic lines, mesh vents, and asymmetrical ankle cut design—something MJ put to great use as he knocked down "The Shot."

Tim Duncan 1999

No. 12 - Tim Duncan x Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo

Year: 1999
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Stats: 27.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.2 blocks

With Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs back in the finals in 2013, it's crazy to think No. 21 is still around, and still getting it done. In his first-ever NBA Finals appearance, Duncan showed up in the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo, and laid the hammer on the New York Knicks. Led by Duncan's 27 points and 14 rebounds per game, the Spurs bounced the Knicks in just five games to win the championship. Timmy picked up his first Finals MVP award along the way.

Shaq 2000

No. 13 - Shaquille O'Neal x Dunk.net Chromz

Year: 2000
Team: L.A. Lakers
Stats: 38.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, and 2.67 blocks

In one of the best performance of his career, Shaq dropped 41 points against Indiana in Game 6 of the 2000 finals, as the Lakers were crowned champs. For the occasion, Shaq wore the Dunk.net Chromz, which were a part of his own short-lived sneaker line. Named out of his love for rims, the Chromz featured a wide base to carry the heavy load. The shoe never hit the mainstream market, but thanks to Shaq's Finals MVP award, the Chormz remain a part of basketball history.

Shaq 2001

No. 14 - Shaquille O'Neal x Dunk.net Dunkmans

Year: 2001
Team: L.A. Lakers
Stats: 33.0 points, 15.6 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks

Winning the Finals MVP award once apparently wasn't enough for the Big Diesel, as he brought his Lakers back to the championship round in 2001, with similar results. With Shaq leading the way in his Dunk.net Dunkmans, it took L.A. just five games to beat Philadelphia.

Shaq 2002

No. 15 - Shaquille O'Neal x Dunk.net Dunkmans

Year: 2002
Team: L.A. Lakers
Stats: 36.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.75 blocks

Shaq's self-commissioned Dunk.net brand didn't quite catch, in fact, it was gone before anyone even took notice. But thanks to Shaq's heroics year-in-and-year out in the early 2000s, the brand lives on. Scoring an average of 36 points per game, Shaq led the Lakers to a 3-peat in 2002. He also picked up his third consecutive title, making him the only person other than MJ to win three in a row.

Tim Duncan 2003

No. 16 - Tim Duncan x adidas A3 Superstar

Year: 2003
Team: San Antonio
Stats: 24.2 points, 17.0 rebounds, and 5.3 blocks

Duncan averaged 24.2 points, 17.0 rebounds and 5.3 blocks to lead the Spurs to a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Nets in the 2003 NBA Finals. In Game 6 alone, Duncan put up 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists, and 8 blocks, helping the Spurs up-end the New Jersey Nets. By this time, Duncan had switched from Nike to adidas, and was rocking the adidas A3 Superstar throughout the 2002-03 season.

Chauncey Billups 2004

No. 17 - Chauncey Billups x And1 Rise

Year: 2004
Team: Detroit
Stats:  21 points and 5.2 assists

There was a point in time, not too long ago, when And1 was a serious player in the basketball footwear market. From the local kids on the block, all the way to the NBA, players were drawn to the brand's basketball-specific mentality. In 2004, Chauncey Billups took And1 to fame, as he wore the Rise model during Detroit's championship that year. In the mid-top sneakers, Billups averaged 21 points and 5 rebounds, picking up the MVP award in the process.

Tim Duncan 2005

No. 18 - Tim Duncan x adidas D Cool

Year: 2005
Team: San Antonio
Stats: 20 points and 14 rebounds

With a nickname like "The Big Fundamental," Tim Duncan is hardly flashy. So in 2005, adidas gave him a shoe that matched up with his low-key demeanor to the tee. Timmy's adidas D Cool featured a perforated upper for temperature regulation, along with a high-grade rubber outsole for traction on the hardwood. Duncan showed off his sneakers in the 2005 finals against Detriot, averaging 20 points and 14 rebounds on his way to his third MVP award.

Wade 2006

No. 19 - Dwayne Wade x Converse Wade 1

Year: 2006
Team: Miami Heat
Stats: 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assits, and 1.7 steals

Dwyane Wade’s scoring average of 34.7 is the third-highest in NBA Finals history, achieved in the Converse Wade 1. In one of the most incredible performances ever witnessed in the Finals, Wade was able to rally the Heat to bring Miami it’s first-ever NBA title.

Tony Parker 2007

No. 20 - Tony Parker x Nike Zoom BB

Year: 2007
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Stats: 24.5 points, 5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists

The first European-born player to nab the NBA Finals MVP rocked the Nike Air Zoom BB, a lightweight, responsive sneaker equipped with Zoom Air technology and an internal mesh sleeve. Parker scored a series-high of 24.5 points with a field goal percentage of 56.8% and 57.1% from the three point range.

Paul Pierce 2008

No. 21 - Paul Pierce x Nike Air Max P2 IV

Year: 2008
Team: Boston Celtics
Stats: 21.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds

Armed with the Air Max-cushioned Nike Air Max P2 IV at his feet, Paul Pierce powered the Boston Celtics to a 4-2 series win against the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals. Pierce scored nearly 22 points per game, and dropped 6 dimes, as the Celtics took care of business.

Kobe 2009

No. 22 - Kobe Bryant x Nike Zoom Kobe IV "61"

Year: 2009
Team: L.A. Lakers
Stats: 32.4 points and 7.4 assists

During the 2008-09 season, Kobe led the lakers to a 65-13 regular season record (the third best in franchise history), while wearing the Nike Zoom Kobe IV. Once making it to the finals against Orlando, he pulled out one of the more memorable colorways of his signature shoe. Known as the "61" edition--a tribute to the 61 points he dropped at Madison Square Garden earlier in the season--the shoe's helped Kobe put up 32 points and 7 assists in the series, as the Lakers won their first title since the post-Shaq era.

Kobe 2010

No. 23 - Kobe Bryant x Nike Zoom Kobe V "Big Stage"

Year: 2010
Team: L.A. Lakers
Stats: 28.5 points, 3.85 assists, and 8 rebounds

Kobe returned to the game's biggest stage in search of his fifth NBA title, and with him, he brought a pair of his appropriately-named Nike Zoom Kobe V "Big Stage" sneakers. With the re-emergence of Zoom Air in the Kobe V, Mamba took over the game when his team needed him most. In a Game 7 showdown against the Boston Celtics, Kobe got it done on both ends of the floor, dropping 23 points and 15 rebounds, as the Lakers edged past their arch rivals.

Dirk Nowitzki 2011

No. 24 - Dirk Nowitzki x Nike Hyperdunk 2010

Year: 2011
Team: Dallas Mavericks
Stats: 26 points and 9.6 rebounds

There was a lot of debate whether Dirk Nowitzki would ever get the monkey off his back and win a NBA title, especially after blowing a 2-game lead to Miami back in 2006. But in 2011, the "Big German" got a second chance at glory, and boy did he take advantage of it. Booted in his go-to Nike Hyperdunk 2010, Dirk showed the world why he's one of the best power forwards of all time, putting up 26 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game, as Dallas upset Miami. Dirk still plays in the Hyperdunks today, though he's moved on the the 2012 version of the shoe.

Lebron 2012

No. 25 - LeBron James x Nike LeBron 9

Year: 2012
Team: Miami Heat
Stats: 30.6 points, 7.4 assits, and 10.2 rebounds

After tasting defeat during his maiden voyage to the NBA Finals the year before, LeBron James and the Miami Heat returned to the finals again in 2012, this time with a much better result. In his Nike LeBron 9 signatures, LJ put the team on his back, scoring over 30 points a game, as the Heat bounced Oklahoma City in just five games. Finally, the king got his crown.

Gurvinder Singh Gandu is a New York City-based writer with west coast roots. A resident wear-tester for Sneaker Report, and contributor to Complex Media, follow him @GurvinderSG for the latest in performance footwear and gear.

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