Since its inception in the 1955-56 campaign, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) has become a cherished accolade. It is a recognition of a player’s achievements during a long and grueling season. Winning the MVP award once is hard enough. Twice is exceptional, while claiming the honor on three or more occasions is genuinely rarefied atmosphere. Indeed, three-peats are almost unheard of, although there is an exclusive club that can lay claim to this, and they certainly transcended the game. We would like to recap some of the greatest MVPs in the NBA, and remember, this is in no particular order.
Michael Jordan (5)
It may come as little surprise that Michael Jordan, who was an integral part of the all-conquering Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, dominated MVP voting.
Jordan — who is widely regarded as one of the most revered players of his generation — had it all, and he picked up back-to-back MVP crowns in 1991 and 1992.
His first MVP title arrived in 1988 where he averaged 35 points, 5.9 assists, and 3.2 steals per game in what was just his fourth NBA season. Jordan was extraordinary and his feats are still talked about today, which shows the indelible impact he left on the game.
Wilt Chamberlain (4)
The younger generation of NBA fans may not be so familiar with Wilt Chamberlain, but he became only the second player in the tournament’s history to achieve an MVP three-peat during the 1960s. Chamberlain was named MVP on four occasions, and had it not been for Russell Chamberlain, then perhaps he would have added more titles to his name. His first MVP coincided with a seventh consecutive scoring title, while his third MVP saw him rack up the most assists (702). What was perhaps more surprising, was that Chamberlain was overlooked in seasons where he averaged over 50.4 and 44.8 points respectively. A domineering figure, Chamberlain had it all in his locker and he was unstoppable in the paint.
LeBron James (4)
Another player that warrants being part of the GOAT conversation, is LeBron James. During a five-year stretch, he netted four MVP crowns. His second MVP was a standout season, as he averaged just shy of 30 points per game, and he was over 50% with his field goal attempts. But despite leading the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers to MNBA titles in the past six years, he hasn’t trousered the award since his Miami Heat days.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6)
One of the most decorated players of his career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a juggernaut, a colossus of a player who was crowned MVP on six occasions – three times with the Milwaukee Bucks and three times with the Lakers.
Aside from collecting the most MVP awards, Abdul-Jabbar is still the all-time top scorer in the NBA with 38,837 points, with James in hot pursuit.
Steph Curry (2)
Another active player included on this list, is Steph Curry. A tour de force when it comes to three-pointers and an integral part of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty in the mid-2010s, Curry was named MVP for the first time in 2015. He won by a landslide when picking up his first MVP, and he steered the Warriors at the time to an unprecedented 73-9 record. Curry was outshone by Luka Donic last season, but having guided the Warriors to NBA success last season, he’s continuing to tear things up on the floor.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (2)
Known as the ‘Greek Freak’, Giannis Antetokounmpo deserves his place on this list. It is remarkable to think that at the age of 25, he has already safely stowed away two MVP awards. Giannis has been an ever-reliable performer for the Bucks and he won back-to-back awards in 2019 and 2020. But he cemented his place in Bucks folklore last year when he guided the Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years, which also happened to be Abdul-Jabbar’s first MVP season.
While we couldn’t include a list of all the MVPs, below is a short list of those who were considered and enjoyed stellar careers, but didn’t quite make the cut:
- Larry Bird
- Bill Russell
- Steve Nash
- Tim Duncan
- Magic Johnson