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In 1962, Bill Russell Won His 3rd MVP Despite Oscar Robertson Averaging A Triple Double And Wilt Chamberlain Averaging 50 Points Per Game

In 1962, Bill Russell Won His 3rd MVP Despite Oscar Robertson Averaging A Triple Double And Wilt Chamberlain Averaging 50 Points Per Game

Think about some of the NBA records that we've heard mentioned quite often. How about the time when Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double for a season, something that no one else had ever done until Russell Westbrook showed up, or what about Wilt Chamberlain averaging 50 points per game in a season?

Memorable no doubt, but not many tend to know that both of these occurred in the same season, 1961-62. What is an even lesser known fact, is that neither player won MVP that season, as pointed out by u/brick-young.

The award went to Bill Russell, the greatest winner in NBA history, instead as he averaged 18.9 points to go with 23.6 rebounds per game for the Celtics. It was a good season, no doubt, but not on par with the historic numbers posted by the other two. The MVP race wasn't particularly close though, as Russell got 51 first-place votes while Robertson got 13 and Wilt came away with just 9, although he did finish ahead of Oscar for the 2nd spot overall. 

There are a few ways to explain this, of course. First of all, Russell's Celtics won a league-high 60 games that season, while Chamberlain's Warriors had 49 wins and Robertson's Royals had 43. Secondly, unlike nowadays, it wasn't the media who voted on the award, but the players themselves, and they clearly felt Russell was more valuable to his team's success than the other two. In fact, the players voted for the MVP award all the way up to the 1979-80 season.

Team wins clearly were something that the players valued an awful lot back then, as the media also tends to do nowadays. It was actually the second year in a row that Russell had won MVP and it was his 3rd MVP award at the time, having also won in 1958.

He'd also go on to become the first player to win 3 successive MVPs as he won in 1963 as well, with Larry Bird being the only other player to accomplish this. Russell would finish his career with 5 MVP awards in total, which was the record until a certain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came along, who won his 6th MVP in 1980.