Nobody Did It Better Than MJ
by Henry Liao for philippinebasketball.ph (06/04/2011)
Wade won a league championship with the Heat in 2006, averaging 34.7 points (42, 36, 43 and 36 in the final four games, all victories) on .468 field-goal shootingin leading Miami to a 4-2 victory over Dallas in the Finals.
In the same six-game title duel, the 7-foot Nowitzki hit at a 22.8-point clip (on a .390 FG clip).
James donned the colors of Cleveland when he first punched a Finals ticket in 2007. He normed ?only? 22.0 points (on .356 FG shooting) an outing in that series as the San Antonio Spurs swept his Cavaliers in a minimum four games.
None among the Finals performances so far by Wade, James and Nowitzki compares to those that legendary NBA great Michael Jordan accomplished during his heyday.
That?s why Scottie Pippen?s statements in a recent pre-Finals ESPN radio interview ? Jordan ?is probably the greatest scorer to play the games but James ?may be the greatest player to ever play the game? ? were a blasphemy and a terrible insult to his former Chicago Bulls teammate Jordan, whose coattails he rode on to claim six NBA championships during the 1990s.
To think James did not even own a single ring before this year?s Finals.
Until now, Jordan still owns the all-time NBA record of the highest scoring average in one NBA Finals series.
?His Airness? registered the mark when he averaged 41.0 points in the Chicago Bulls? 4-2 win over the Phoenix Suns during the 1993 Finals. He scored 31, 42, 44*** (three overtimes), 55, 41 and 33 ? in the process establishing an all-time NBA Finals record for most consecutive games with 40 or more points at four ? and shot .508 from the field for the series.
It was the year Jordan lost the regular-season Most Valuable Player race to Charles Barkley, who was the Suns? meal ticket at the time. (Barkley is currently a Finals color commentator for TNT/NBA TV and picked Dallas to win this year?s NBA crown).
The humbling experience served as Jordan?s motivation.
In addition to Jordan, two other players averaged at least 40 points during an NBA Finals.
San Francisco (now Golden State) Warriors forward Rick Barry drilled in 40.8 ppg during the NBA Finals but his superb effort went for naught as his team fell to Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers in six games.
LA Lakers forward Elgin Baylor?s 40.6-point average in the seven-game 1962 Finals was likewise put to waste when Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics came through with a 4-3 success.
During the series, Baylor, who never won an NBA crown during his illustrious tenure, also registered the highest individual score for an NBA Finals contest when he knocked in 61 markers in the Lakers? 126-121 Game Five win at Boston on April 14, 1962 that temporarily gave LA a 3-2 lead.
Jerry West, another former Lakers, owns the all-time fourth-highest scoring clip in one NBA Finals. West, who last May 20 joined the Golden State organization as an adviser and member of the Warriors? executive board, normed 37.9 points per game against Boston during the 1969 Finals.
The Celtics grabbed the crown in seven games but West romped away with the Finals MVP award, marking the only time that the honor went to a player from a losing team since the award?s inception that year.