All-Time Player Rankings rely upon career statistics, achievements, and accolades. Arguably the most important accolade in these discussions is MVP awards. Right behind NBA Championships, which is a team achievement, is MVP. MVP is supposed to recognize and credit the NBA’s best player each year. Though the award is sometimes up for debate, it normally goes to the player that was the most valuable for his team’s success during the season.
The NBA also gives recognition to the best/most important player on NBA Championship winning teams. That too has been argued, most recently with Andre Iguodala winning Finals MVP over Stephen Curry in 2015.
One thing is certain, all of the NBA greats on All-Time Top 10 player rankings have at least 1 of the 2 awards on their resume (MVP or Finals MVP). This list details the 10 players with the most MVPs and Finals MVPs combined, from least to most. All of these players, except for 1 active player, are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
10. Moses Malone
MVP: 1979, 1982, 1983
Finals MVP: 1983
Total MVPs: 4
Moses Malone is easily the most underrated player on this list, if not in NBA history. Malone is a 3x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, and 12x NBA All-Star, yet he never appears on any Top-10 All-Time Player lists.
In each of Malone’s MVP seasons, he led the league in rebounding, peaking in the ‘78-’79 season when he put up 17.6 RPG, well above everyone else (2nd in rebounding averaged 12.8).
His most memorable MVP season was in 1983. Following his 1982 MVP campaign, Malone was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Philadelphia 76ers. In his 1st season with the team, Malone would lead the 76ers to a title, winning MVP and Finals MVP in the same season.
Malone won back-to-back MVPs, split between 2 teams, and yet he gets very little recognition as one of the greatest of All-Time.
9. Shaquille O’Neal
Finals MVP: 2000, 2001, 2002
Total MVPs: 4
Shaquille O’Neal is arguably the most dominant player in NBA history, next to Wilt Chamberlain. In 10 years (3 years with the Magic, 7 with the Lakers), Shaq averaged 28.1 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, and 2.5 BPG.
He also led the league in PER for 5 straight seasons (‘97-’98 to ‘01-’02). Yet, he only walked away with a Regular Season MVP.
Shaq won his lone-MVP in 2000 with the Los Angeles Lakers when he led the league in scoring and field goal percentage, finished 2nd in rebounding, and tied for 3rd in blocks. He did this all while leading his team to the league’s best record by an 8-game margin. That season would stand as the beginning of a dynasty for the Lakers as they would go on to win 3 straight NBA Championships, with Shaq winning all 3 Finals MVPs as well.
8. Tim Duncan
MVP: 2002, 2003
Finals MVP: 1999, 2003, 2005
Total MVPs: 5
The 2000s were mostly ruled by 2 teams, the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. At the head of the Greg Popovich coached Spurs was Tim Duncan, one of the few players of this era to play on one team for his whole career.
In a 7-year span between ‘99 and ‘05, the Spurs won 3 Championships with Duncan being the Finals MVP in all 3 runs. Also during that period, Duncan and the Spurs only fell below the Western Conference’s top 2 seeds once.
Duncan averaged 22.8 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 2.5 BPG; winning back-to-back MVPs to cap off the run. Even more special about Duncan is that he would help lead his team to 2 more rings after his reign as an MVP.
7. Wilt Chamberlain
MVP: 1960, 1966, 1967, 1968
Finals MVP: 1972
Total MVPs: 5
Wilt Chamberlain is an NBA myth and legend. He was the most dominant player in NBA history up until the early 2000s when Shaquille O’Neal dominated the game. There are still stories told about Wilt’s athletic feats during the ‘60s when he ruled the NBA record books.
Between the 1960 and 1968 seasons, Wilt won 4 regular season MVPs while averaging 36.0 PPG, 24.6 RPG, and 4.5 APG. Luckily for everyone else’s place in the record books, steals and blocks were not yet being accurately recorded. Wilt’s numbers may have been even more impressive if defensive stats were recorded in his era.
Though his team only won 1 NBA championship during the ‘60s, Wilt had solidified his place in NBA history. What’s shocking about Wilt’s historic ‘60s numbers is that he didn’t win MVP in his best statistical seasons.
From ‘61 to ‘65, Wilt averaged 41.1 PPG but won 0 MVPs. He led the league in scoring in all 5 seasons and led in rebounding 3 of the 5 seasons. The NBA wouldn’t introduce the Finals MVP award until 1969 when Wilt was on the downside of his prime. He would go on to win 1 more title in 1972 and win Finals MVP at age 35.
6. Bill Russell
MVP: 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965
Finals MVP: N/A
Total MVPs: 5
Bill Russell is the league’s most winningest player. If it weren’t for the league not giving out Finals MVP until 1969, Russell would likely be seen as the Greatest Player of All-Time, with no debate.
In 13 seasons, Russell helped lead his Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles with the last title being the 1st induction of Finals MVP. He is the only player on this list with 0 Finals MVPs, making his ranking on here even more impressive. There is no doubt that Russell would have won 4-7 Finals MVPs during the Celtics’ run, possibly putting him at the peak of this list. Even so, 5 MVPs are enough to have Russell near the top of the list as he was known as one of the best leaders in the league on a title-contending Celtics team.
Russell wasn’t a big-time scorer like Wilt Chamberlain; his impact was mostly felt on the glass as well as on defense. Unfortunately for Russell, just like Wilt, defensive statistics weren’t accurately recorded in that era; leaving us all to wonder what kind of block and steal numbers Russell was putting up as a rangy, athletic 6’10” C with a high IQ.
5. Larry Bird
MVP: 1984, 1985, 1986
Finals MVP: 1984, 1986
Total MVPs: 5
The NBA belonged to Larry Bird in the mid-to-late ‘80s. In 5 years between ‘84 and ‘88, Bird averaged 27.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 6.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, and 0.9 BPG, all while shooting just under the 50-40-90 Club (shot 89.9% from the Free Throw line).
Bird led the Boston Celtics to 4 Finals appearances, winning 2, and a 75% winning percentage during the regular season in those 5 years. Bird also became the 1st player in NBA history to win MVP and Finals MVP in the same year twice.
Larry Bird’s reign as one of the league’s elite sadly came to a halt in the ‘88-’89 season as he only played 6 games before suffering from bone spurs in both of his heels. Bird’s run is still one of the best runs in league history to this day.
4. Magic Johnson
MVP: 1987, 1989, 1990
Finals MVP: 1980, 1982, 1987
Total MVPs: 6
Magic Johnson came into the league and immediately became a household name. In his rookie season, Magic would help the Los Angeles Lakers win an NBA title and be named Finals MVP as he stepped right-in for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 6 of the Finals as Kareem missed the game due to an ankle injury. Magic, who was drafted as a guard, played C for the Lakers in that game and put up 42 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists as a rookie to finish off the series.
Magic’s career after this would not disappoint. He would go on to win 4 more NBA Championships with the Lakers, winning 2 more Finals MVPs. He also won 3 MVPs in 4 years between ‘87 and ‘90. In Magic’s 12 seasons before being diagnosed with HIV, the Lakers would win 54 or more games each season while also making 9 Finals appearances.
3. LeBron James
MVP: 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
Finals MVP: 2012, 2013, 2016
Total MVPs: 7
As the only active player on this list, LeBron James can still add to his already impressive NBA resume. Often heralded as the Greatest Player of All-Time, LeBron has ruled the NBA for well over a decade now. Some even believe that he’d have more MVP trophies if it weren’t for voter fatigue. What also holds LeBron back from being higher on this list is his team often being outmatched in the NBA Finals.
Ever since his rookie season, LeBron has been one of the most dynamic, dominant players in the league, leading to 4 MVPs and 9 Finals Appearances. He still has a chance to collect more MVP hardware but at the age of 35 and younger talents emerging in the league, it may be far-fetched.
Only time will tell if LeBron will climb this list any further, but one thing is certain: as is, LeBron has solidified himself as one of the All-Time NBA greats.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
MVP: 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980
Finals MVP: 1971, 1985
Total MVPs: 8
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s basketball resume is 2nd to none. Kareem has won titles on every level of his basketball career: High School State titles, NCAA titles, and NBA titles. Kareem also has the most regular-season MVPs in NBA history with 6.
Even more impressive for Kareem is that he won 6 MVPs without three-peating. He and LeBron James are the only players in NBA history to win multiple MVPs with 2 separate teams; Kareem won 3 with both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers while LeBron won 2 with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat.
Between 1971 and 1980, Kareem 28.2 PPG, 14.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 3.5 BPG; leading the league in scoring twice, rebounding once, and blocks 3 times. Kareem averaged those steal and block numbers even without those numbers being recorded for his 1st 4 years in the league. Kareem won 6 NBA titles: 1 with the Bucks and 5 with the Lakers. He would only win 2 Finals MVPs, keeping him from surpassing the player who leads this list.
1. Michael Jordan
MVP: 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998
Finals MVP: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
Total MVPs: 11
Michael Jordan is not only the most relevant legend NBA, with the Last Dance documentary keeping NBA fans entertained during this hiatus, he’s also the NBA’s most accomplished individual with 5 MVPs and 6 Finals MVPs. During the late-’80s and all of the ‘90s, Jordan led the Bulls and formed a dynasty alongside Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson.
In 13 seasons with the Bulls, Jordan led the league in scoring a whopping 10 times (7 straight times before stepping away to play baseball).
He also led the Bulls on 2 separate three-peat Championship runs. This, along with many other career achievements, is what makes Jordan so hard to argue against as the Greatest Player of All-Time. Ever since his reign in the league, every great player we’ve seen has been compared to him, from Kobe Bryant to LeBron James.
Jordan will likely remain at the top of this ranking for years to come, as the league is becoming more diverse with talent all-around.
There are only 2 active players with more than 1 NBA MVP: LeBron James (4) and Stephen Curry (2). There are also only 3 active players with more than 1 Finals MVP: LeBron (3), Kevin Durant (2), and Kawhi Leonard (2).
It’s very unlikely that any player will ever surpass Michael Jordan’s 11 total MVPs, as LeBron stood the best chance and he’s only at 7 total MVPs with his impressive NBA career. Maybe we’ll see a run from Giannis Antetokounmpo that we didn’t expect. Or maybe the NBA’s All-Time Greatest player has yet to grace an NBA court yet. Only time will tell if this list ever changes.