Winning the MVP award is one of the highest honors any player could ever achieve, as it’s the highest recognition from your peers, colleagues and journalists about great performances sustained throughout the entire campaign.
Everybody has their own criteria on whether who should win the MVP award. While some state it should go to the best player in the league, others may say it should be headed towards the best player on the best team.
Either way, winning the MVP has to be the closest joy next to winning an NBA Championship. And, sadly for some players, the MVP is as good as it gets, as they’re never able to put the cherry on top of the sundae with a ring on their fingers. Today, we’re going to talk about 7 MVPs that never won an NBA Championship, and that would trade trophies any day if they had the chance.
7. Charles Barkley (1992-93)
Charles Barkley was yet another member of the “beaten by Jordan in the Finals” club, leading the Phoenix Suns to the ultimate stage in basketball despite his outstanding performances, posting averages of 26.6 points and 13.6 rebounds a game.
Barkley was one of the most popular players in the world during his prime, but he could never win the ring despite joining forces with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. Still, he was a well-deserved MVP winner in 1993 due to his averages of 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1 block per game.
6. Karl Malone (1996-97; 1998-99)
Karl Malone had as much as three chances to win the NBA Championship, but was destroyed by Michael Jordan and his almighty Chicago Bulls twice and then miserably failed alongside Shaq, Kobe and Payton in the Lakers ‘Fab Four’ fiasco.
Either way, the Mailman will go down as one of the most dominant scorers this game has ever seen, winning the MVP in 1997 with averages of 27.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1,4 steals per game; and then again in 1999 with averages of 23.8 points, 9.4 boards, 4.1 dimes and 1.3 steals a night.
5. Allen Iverson (2000-01)
Allen Iverson is arguably the most talented player never to win an NBA Champion ever, as he always lacked a truly capable supporting cast that could help him in the playoffs, especially against Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in the Finals.
Still, Iverson never ceased to amaze with the rock on his hands, crossing people over and breaking ankles at will. Throughout his MVP campaign in 2001, the Answer averaged 31.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
4. Steve Nash (2004-05; 2005-06)
Steve Nash was a complete sensation in the league during his prime, bringing the most out of Dirk Nowitzki and then making Amar’e Stoudemire one of the most dominant scorers in the game, but he was never able to win the Championship, not even by joining Kobe and Gasol in the Lakers.
Some people believe he wasn’t worthy of the MVP awards he won and that those accolades should’ve gone Shaq’s way. Still, winning back-to-back MVPs is quite impressive. Over the 04-05 campaign, Nash averaged 15.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and a league-leading 11.5 assists a game, while he improved his scoring averages the very next season with 18.8 points and also league-leading 10.5 assists per game.
3. Derrick Rose (2010-11)
Derrick Rose looked poised for stardom after he took the league for assault right out of the gate, winning the Rookie of the Year and then leading the Chicago Bulls to the best record in the East before suffering a career-changing injury.
Sadly, he was never able to even make it to the NBA Finals and truth to be told, he’s never going to be back to his MVP level. During his MVP Campaign, he started 81 games en route to averaging 25 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists per game and 1 steal a contest.
2. Russell Westbrook (2016-17)
Russell Westbrook inked his name in the history books after being able to average a triple-double for a full season, something that hadn’t been done in ages ever since Oscar Robertson nailed it before, something that granted him the MVP award.
Sadly, due to his poor shot selection and lack of confidence on his teammates (not to mention the lack of a true support cast), he wasn’t able to complete the milestone with a Championship, after posting averages of 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
1. James Harden (2017-18)
James Harden has become the most recent MVP never to win an NBA Championship after losing against James and the Heat during his Oklahoma City Thunder stint and failing to make it to the NBA Finals ever since, even despite having the best record in the league this season.
The Beard became the first player to win both the Sixth Man of the Year and the MVP, but he’s never been able to replicate his success in the postseason. Still, he’s coming off a career year and doesn’t look ready to slow down any time soon, posting averages of 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game.