One of the most important accolades a player can win is the Most Valuable Player Award.
Since only one player is chosen for this award, there is steep competition for being the MVP of your team all season. Not to mention, the NBA is a league full of superstar players who all probably deserve the MVP Award over the course of 82 games. It takes that little bit extra in terms of performance, production, and winning to get a guy over the hump and capture the prestigious award.
Since 1955, the MVP Award has been awarded to the best single-player over the regular season each and every year. Most often, although there are some disputes, the MVP award is awarded to both the best player in the league that year along with who provided the most value to their team. Without these guys on their respective teams, the team would not be as successful as they did.
We have witnessed some incredible MVP seasons, including record-breaking circumstances and production. Here is every single MVP winner by position in NBA history.
Bob Cousy (1956-1957) Boston Celtics
The first perimeter player to capture the award, Cousy was part of a very dominant Celtics team that managed to win multiple NBA titles. As the point guard and leader of the team, Cousy was the best player on the best team all year for the Celtics.
Oscar Robertson (1963-64) Cincinnati Royals
Oscar Robertson, before Russell Westbrook, was the king of the triple-double. He could do it all on the floor, and his history-making triple-double average all season long gave the league no choice but to gift him the award.
Magic Johnson (1986-87), (1988-1989), (1989-1990) Los Angeles Lakers
Unsurprisingly, Lakers legend Magic Johnson captured multiple MVP Awards. His first came in 1986-1987 season, where he was the undisputed leader and most spectacular player of a dominant Lakers team. He averaged
Steve Nash (2004-2005), (2005-2006) Phoenix Suns
While Nash certainly deserves an MVP Award for his spectacular floor leadership and offensive dominance, a second MVP Award is very debatable. Many claims he stole an MVP from Kobe Bryant, although Nash does have an argument considering how dominant he made the Suns.
Derrick Rose (2010-2011) Chicago Bulls
D. Rose was an absolute monster in his prime and was completely unguardable in his MVP season. He was so dominant, that he managed to win the MVP over LeBron James. Rose will go down as one of the greatest what-ifs in NBA history, and his MVP season will forever be etched in fans’ memories.
Stephen Curry (2014-2015), (2015-2016) Golden State Warriors
Curry is a three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP. He even managed to win a very deserving unanimous MVP Award following one of the most legendary regular-season performances in NBA history. Curry’s MVP seasons were the reason why the NBA has changed so much, and Curry gets all the credit for directing the next generation of players.
Russell Westbrook (2016-2017) Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook was thrust into the alpha role after Kevin Durant left him for the Warriors. Westbrook grasped that role and put up a historic triple-double season en route to his first MVP Award. Russ is the new king of the triple-double, taking over from legendary Oscar Robertson, and his MVP season was one to remember. From game-winners to ridiculous stats, Russ was well-deserving of this award.
Michael Jordan (1987-88), (1990-1991), (1991-1992), (1995-1996), (1997-1998) Chicago Bulls
No doubt about it, MJ deserved every MVP Award he won over his career. In fact, many argue he should have won them all. Still, MJ put up ridiculous numbers and took over countless games it was hard to count. As the greatest player of all time, there is not much more that has to be said.
Allen Iverson (2000-2001) Philadelphia 76ers
Iverson’s MVP season was legendary, as he was responsible for carrying a Sixers team all season long. Iverson was simply unguardable, and he used his speed and quickness to his advantage when it came to beating defenders off the dribble. Iverson is quite possibly the greatest player ever, pound for pound.
Kobe Bryant (2007-2008) Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant finally won an MVP Award after destroying every team with his offense. Bryant had one of the most spectacular offensive seasons in history, putting up ridiculous point totals all season long. Bryant probably should have won more than one MVP Award, but his name is cemented as the second greatest shooting guard ever.
James Harden (2017-2018) Houston Rockets
The Beard was the MVP two years ago, and he will forever claim that he should have won it last year too. Looking at his impact, production, and numbers, he does have a valid point. Harden completely took over the league all season long, and he could not be stopped no matter who was defending him. If it wasn’t for Giannis leading his team to the league’s best record, Harden would be a two-time MVP.
Julius Erving (1980-81) Philadelphia 76ers
Dr. J is one of the most popular athletes of all time, and he set new trends in the professional basketball world with his style of play and swagger. Erving was a tremendous scorer, and he could light up each and every stadium he went to. When it comes to pure impact and being box-office, there are few players in NBA history who can match Dr. J.
Larry Bird (1983-84), (1984-1985), (1985-86) Boston Celtics
Larry Legend won three MVP Awards and was well-deserving of all of them. Bird had it all offensively, including toughness to finish inside and a deep-range jumper. Up until LeBron James, Bird had the strongest claim of being the best small forward of all time- and for eternity. As one of the legends of the game, Bird is well-deserving of every MVP he won.
LeBron James (2008-2009), (2009-2010) Cleveland Cavaliers, (2011-2012), (2012-2013) Miami Heat
As possibly the greatest regular-season performer in NBA history, James managed two back-to-back MVP seasons in which he managed to win championships as well. James is simply the most unstoppable physical athlete we have ever seen, in terms of overall ability. He was quick, strong, and explosive, and could not be stopped. Especially with the Miami Heat, James had one of the most dominant MVP seasons in history.
Kevin Durant (2013-2014) Oklahoma City Thunder
Durant was the last small forward to win the award, and he did it with the Oklahoma City Thunder. As good as his running buddy Westbrook was, Durant was on another level in 2013-2014. He was the best scorer in the league and showed an overall game including defense and playmaking all year. Durant was a perfect player and will go down as one of the best players in NBA history.
Bob Pettit (1995-1956), (1958-1959) St. Louis Hawks
Pettit won the first-ever MVP Award, as a member of the St. Louis Hawks. Pettit was a monster, especially in his second MVP season, where he averaged 29 points and 16 rebounds. Pettit made history for the first MVP, and also one of two players to win the All-Star Game MVP at least four times.
Charles Barkley (1992-1993) Phoenix Suns
While we have seen many Barkley’s, the Suns’ version was by far the best. He was a beast, destroying opponents on the inside and crashing the boards on both ends. Many don’t remember how great Barkley was, and he is one of the best forwards to ever play.
Karl Malone (1996-1997), (1998-1999) Utah Jazz
Malone was a scoring machine with the Jazz, and he managed two MVP Awards. A double-double threat every night, Malone was the recipient of beautiful bounce passes and lobs from John Stockton. Their tandem was incredible, and Malone’s scoring ability is the reason he is a top 3 point scorer of all time.
Tim Duncan (2001-2002), (2002-2003) San Antonio Spurs
Duncan won two MVP Awards as part of the Spurs, and he was well-deserving of each. He was the main piece to the Spurs big 3, and everything ran through Duncan. Of course, they won a lot of games and Duncan’s impact was the main reason why.
Kevin Garnett (2003-2004) Minnesota Timberwolves
KG was by far the most valuable player to his team in 2003-2004, as he was literally doing everything for the Wolves. His leadership, passing ability, scoring, and defense were just a step above most players in the league. He managed to lead a poor Wolves team into the playoffs on his back.
Dirk Nowitzki (2006-2007) Dallas Mavericks
Dirk was a monster in 2006, thanks to his ability to score from anywhere on the court. His shooting was sublime and was one of the few bigs who could actually spread the floor. He led the Mavs to a very strong record but fell short in the NBA Finals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (2018-2019) Milwaukee Bucks
The NBA’s most recent MVP winner, Giannis is on a crash course to becoming the best player in the world. Already, he has led his team to a deep playoff run and simply cannot be stopped when he attacks the rim. Once he adds a jumper, he is on his way to bring an all-time great.
Bill Russell (1957-1958), (1960-61), (1961-62), (1962-63), (1964-65) Boston Celtics
An 11-time NBA Champion, Russell won 5 MVP Awards thanks to his defensive dominance, consistent rebounding, and his one of a kind leadership. Russell was the unquestioned leader of the dominant Celtics team of his era, and he will go down as the greatest winner in NBA history. His MVP titles are a testament to that.
Wilt Chamberlain (1959-1960) Philadelphia Warriors, (1965-66) (1966-1967) (1967-68) Philadelphia Sixers
The greatest stat-sheet stuffer in NBA history, Wilt once put up 100 points in a single game. On another occasion, he grabbed 50 rebounds. There will never be another Wilt, and he managed to capture 4 MVP awards thanks to his dominance on both ends of the floor.
Wes Unseld (1968-69) Baltimore Bullets
Wes Unseld made history on his MVP season by capturing both the special award and the Rookie of the Year Award. He and Wilt Chamberlain were able to manage this incredible feat and for good reason. Unseld was special all year long, averaging 14 points and 18 rebounds per game.
Willis Reed (1969-1970) New York Knicks
Reed was a special player for the Knicks, capturing the All-Star Game MVP, regular-season MVP, and Finals MVP in the same year. Reed led the Knicks to 60 wins in his MVP year, and even a whopping 18-game winning streak in that season.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-1971), (1971-72), (1973-74) Milwaukee Bucks (1975-76) (1976-77), (1979-1980) Los Angeles Lakers
Possibly a top-two player all-time, Kareem has one of the greatest resumes in sports history. He was a winner at every level and is the number one leading scorer of all time. He had an unstoppable Skyhook maneuver that could not be blocked or stopped. Kareem won a whopping 6 MVP titles for two different teams, something we might never see again.
Dave Cowens (1972-73) Boston Celtics
Cowens averages 20.5 and 16 rebounds per game as the starting big man for the Celtics in 1972-1973 season. Cowens owned the boards, and always made the Celtics a relevant force when he played. He ended up finishing his career with 8 All-Star appearances and two NBA championships.
Bob McAdoo (1974-75) Buffalo Braves
McAdoo averaged a whopping 34.5 points and 14 rebounds per game while playing for the Braves. This was his career-high scoring average, and it came only in his third NBA season. Only the old heads will understand how great of a player McAdoo was.
Bill Walton (1977-78) Portland Trail Blazers
Walton, prior to the injury, might be on the Mt. Rushmore of big men thanks to his special skill and size. Walton was a beast in 1977-1978 season, averaging 19 points and 13 rebounds and affecting the game in almost every way. He could pass, defend, score, and lead his team to victory.
Moses Malone (1978-79), (1981-82) Houston Rockets (1982-83) Philadelphia 76ers
Moses Malone was a special player, as he is one of the few players in NBA history to capture two MVPs with different teams. Moses often played like a man among boys, using his size and skill to dominate players around the rim. Moses is one of the greatest bigs we have ever seen.
Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-1994) Houston Rockets
A second Rockets big man to win the MVP, he might have been the best one yet. Hakeem was the best player for the Rockets and led them to two NBA titles in a row. In fact, Hakeem was the best player in the league since Michael Jordan was in retirement. There was no answer for Hakeem, as he took over the league and even dominated the likes of young Shaquille O’Neal.
David Robinson (1994-1995) San Antonio Spurs
The Admiral was a fantastic player for the Spurs, eventually winning his MVP Award in 1995. During that year, Robinson averaged 28 and 11 while playing both ends of the floor. His numbers clearly scream MVP, but his impact did even more.
Shaquille O’Neal (1999-2000) Los Angeles Lakers
The last center to win the award, Shaq was the unquestioned best player in the league in the year 2000. There was no answer for him, and he usually fouled out most defenders on most nights. Shaq was extremely dominant on both ends of the floor, and one of the greatest players we have ever seen.