The Lost Finals MVP: 1958
Whole lot easier than the 1957 non-decision
The 1957 NBA Finals was a classic showdown between St. Louis and Boston. So classic I couldn’t decide who the Lost Finals MVP was, so I copped out and just gave it to Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, and Bob Pettit.
Well, in 1958, the Hawks and Celtics had a rematch and the Lost Finals MVP choice is mercifully easy.
Yep, ole Bob Pettit gets the award.
Pettit was the leading scorer in the series averaging 29.3 PPG. Only challenger was his teammate Cliff Hagan (25.2 PPG). Pettit was second in rebounding average for the series with 17.0 RPG. Bill Russell edged him out with 19.3 RPG.
*hauls out straw man*
Now some people like to suggest that St. Louis’ 1958 title is somewhat tainted because Bill Russell had an injured ankle for half the series. First off, there’s the whole “injuries are part of the game” aspect. Secondly, the Celtics had baaaaaarely defeated the Hawks the previous season in the Finals and the two teams returned basically intact for this ‘58 rematch.
Thirdly, it’s not like Boston was up 2-0 in the series, Russell got hurt, and then the Hawks won 4 games in a row. St. Louis and Boston split the first two games of the series where Russell was completely healthy. In Game 3 he played 30 minutes before injuring the ankle. Boston was losing that game by nine points when Russell went down and would flounder in the end giving St. Louis a 2-1 edge.
Fourthly, holy shit did Bob Pettit play like a boss.
GAME 1: 30 points, 19 rebounds
GAME 2: 19 points, 7 rebounds
GAME 3: 32 points, 19 rebounds
GAME 4: 12 points, 17 rebounds (okay he stunk this game, 3/17 FGs. Yeesh)
GAME 5: 33 points, 21 rebounds
GAME 6: 50 points, 19 rebounds
That’s right Pettit put a Fitty Piece on Boston to win the Finals including scoring 19 of the Hawks’ final 21 points in the game.
Most points in a Finals-clinching game in NBA history (since tied by Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2021 Finals).
Glad this was a pretty easy award to hand out, cuz it goes back to being tough in 1959.