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Athletes to Win Championship MVP Honors for Multiple Teams

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Football season is over, basketball and hockey season are heating up and baseball is just around the corner.

Last weekend, the NFL season wrapped up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers topping the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, 31-9. The MVP for Tampa Bay joined an elite group of athletes to win championship MVPs for multiple teams.

In this piece, we look back on the five athletes to do so across the four major American sports: Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and NHL.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (NBA)

Championship MVPs: Milwaukee Bucks (1971); Los Angeles Lakers (1985)
Overview: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s two NBA Finals MVPs came 14 years apart and by two different names. Then known as Lew Alcindor, the star center averaged 27 points and 13.5 rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks’ 4-game game sweep of the Baltimore Bullets in 1971. As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1985 NBA Finals, Abdul-Jabbar became the oldest NBA Finals MVP. He averaged better than 25 points and nine rebounds as the Lakers won a hard-fought series over the Boston Celtics in six games.

Tom Brady (NFL)

Championship MVPs: New England Patriots (2001, 2003, 2014, 2016); Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2020)
Overview: As an NFL quarterback, Tom Brady has won more Super Bowls than any other NFL franchise. In 10 Super Bowl appearances, Brady has seven victories and is a 5-time MVP. The first four of those came as a member of the New England Patriots, but this past season — his first as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Brady led Tampa Bay to its second Super Bowl title. Brady is the only player ever to win Super Bowl MVP for two different teams.

Reggie Jackson (MLB)

Championship MVPs: Oakland Athletics (1973); New York Yankees (1977)
Overview: The only Major League Baseball player to make the list, Reggie Jackson earned MVP honors for the Oakland Athletics for the 1973 World Series and the New York Yankees in the 1977 World Series. In 1973, Oakland won the final two contests to down the New York Mets in seven games. Jackson had a 4-hit game and a 3-hit game during the series. His 2-run home run in Game 7 gave the A’s a 4-0 lead in an eventual 5-2 victory. His most famous World Series moment however, came as a member of the New York Yankees. Against the Los Angeles Dodgers in clinching Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Jackson homered three times. He also homered in each of the two prior games.

LeBron James (NBA)

Championship MVPs: Miami Heat (2012, 2013); Cleveland Cavaliers (2016); Los Angeles Lakers (2020)
Overview: LeBron James is the only player on the list to win the championship MVP honor with three different teams. James is just 4-6 in the NBA Finals, but has been MVP in each of his four victories. Twice, James won the NBA Finals in seven games. Behind a pair of 41-point efforts from James, he led the Cleveland Cavaliers from a 3-1 series deficit in the 2016 NBA Finals to beat a Golden State Warriors team that had won an NBA record 73 games during the regular season.

Patrick Roy (NHL)

Championship MVPs: Montreal Canadiens (1986, 1993); Colorado Avalanche (2001)
Overview: Unlike in other sports, the NHL award for MVP — the Conn Smythe Trophy — for a player’s performance throughout the entire course of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In each of goaltender Patrick Roy’s three Conn Smythe Trophy seasons however, the campaign ended with Roy hoisting the Stanley Cup. Roy led the Montreal Canadiens to a pair of 5-game victories in the Stanley Cup Finals — over the Calgary Flames in 1986 and Los Angeles Kings in 1991. At 36 years old during the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, Roy allowed just a single goal over the final two games as the Colorado Avalanche rallied to beat the New Jersey Devils in seven games.

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.