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Finals MVP Leonard joins NBA greats

Last updated on: June 14, 2019 10:21 IST

Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard celebrates his team's win over the Golden State Warriors in Game Six to win the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California, on Thursday

IMAGE: Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard celebrates his team's win over the Golden State Warriors in Game Six to win the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California, on Thursday. Photograph: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player for the second time after his team's championship win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Leonard, who also won the award in 2014 while playing for the San Antonio Spurs, joins basketball greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to win Finals MVP with two different franchises.

 

Playing in his first season with Toronto, Leonard averaged 28.5 points during the best-of-seven Finals, leading the Raptors to a 4-2 series upset of two-time defending champions GoldenState.

Playing against a Warriors team with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, two of the NBA's most feared shooters, Leonard dazzled in the spotlight and left his rivals in the shade.

The focal point of the Raptors offense throughout the Finals, he took the playmaking responsibilities on his shoulders and shrugged off GoldenState's efforts to slow him down.

The Raptors became a legitimate contender when they acquired Leonard from San Antonio last July, though when he arrived he was coming off a season in which he missed all but nine games with a quadriceps issue.

With no assurances that he would re-sign with the team beyond 2019, it was a high-risk trade for Toronto.

The rewards, however, have been huge.

Leonard led the team in scoring all season and carried them to their first final in the franchise's 24-year history.

List of NBA Finals Most Valuable Player winners:

2019 - Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors

2018 - Kevin Durant, GoldenState Warriors

2017 - Kevin Durant, GoldenState Warriors

2016 - LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

2015 - Andre Iguodala, GoldenState Warriors

2014 - Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

2013 - LeBron James, Miami Heat

2012 - LeBron James, Miami Heat

2011 - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

2010 - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

2009 - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

2008 - Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

2007 - Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

2006 - Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

2005 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

2004 - Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons

2003 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

2002 - Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

2001 - Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

2000 - Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

1999 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

1998 - Michael Jordan, Chicago

1997 - Michael Jordan, Chicago

1996 - Michael Jordan, Chicago

1995 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston

1994 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston

1993 - Michael Jordan, Chicago

1992 - Michael Jordan, Chicago

1991 - Michael Jordan, Chicago

1990 - Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons

1989 - Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons

1988 - James Worthy, Los Angeles Lakers

1987 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers

1986 - Larry Bird, Boston Celtics

1985 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles Lakers

1984 - Larry Bird, Boston Celtics

1983 - Moses Malone, Philadelphia 76ers

1982 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers

1981 - Cedric Maxwell, Boston Celtics

1980 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers

1979 - Dennis Johnson, Seattle SuperSonics

1978 - Wes Unseld, Washington Bullets

1977 - Bill Walton, Portland Trail Blazers

1976 - Jo Jo White, Boston Celtics

1975 - Rick Barry, GoldenState Warriors

1974 - John Havlicek, Boston Celtics

1973 - Willis Reed, New York Knicks

1972 - Wilt Chamberlain, Los Angeles Lakers

1971 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks

1970 - Willis Reed, New York Knicks

1969 - Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers

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