Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time and the 1992 MVP Award is a fine example of why. In one of the closest and most exciting MVP races ever, Michael Jordan beat out a mix of Hall of Famers who had MVP seasons suitable for contention for the award. The 1992 season was a special year for Michael Jordan, who won both the MVP and captured his second-straight NBA title to continue building his dynasty. The GOAT was simply on an entirely different level that year, as the most dominant two-way player in the game.
Of course, Jordan also captured the scoring title by posting 30.1 PPG on 51.9% shooting, elite offensive numbers by a score-first guard that had the ultimate green light with the ball in his hands. The legendary Chicago Bulls star was exceptional at creating offense from mid-range and around the rim, a major reason why he ultimately won the MVP award.
But credit goes to the four or five players who finished just short of MJ's greatness during the 1992 season. Any one of those contenders deserved the award when looking at their stats and impact, as the entire race was determined by slight margins. With the great Clyde Drexler finishing second place and David Robinson finishing third, here is the breakdown of one of the most incredible MVP races that ended with Michael Jordan ahead of the pack.
10. Dennis Rodman - 26 MVP Points
Stats: 9.8 PPG, 18.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG
An incredibly versatile defender, Dennis Rodman finished in the top-10 in MVP voting in 1992 by averaging an incredible 18.7 RPG during the year while also chipping in 9.8 PPG and 0.9 SPG. Rodman was a great pest on defense, thanks to his ability to defend multiple positions and also hustle for loose balls better than almost any other player ever.
As a member of the Detroit Pistons, Rodman led the NBA in rebounds after averaging his career-high in RPG while playing some of the most stifling defense in NBA history. Even when Dennis was not an offensive threat, he shot a cool 52.1% from the floor all season long, and his partnership with Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars was surely a sight to behold. Rodman’s defense and rebounding also helped the Pistons finish 5th in the Eastern Conference.
9. Scottie Pippen - 32 MVP Points
Stats: 21.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Many fans who followed the NBA in the 90s will know that Scottie Pippen was a special player. A natural point forward, Pippen could do it all on the court and this was a great season for him all-around. Alongside Michael Jordan, Pippen led the Chicago Bulls to the first seed in the Eastern Conference and first in the NBA overall. Pippen was Chicago’s best playmaker as they reached the NBA Finals and won it all as well. Of course, Jordan was receiving the bulk of the credit, but Scottie’s presence as a two-way star made the Bulls the best team in the league.
Scottie made the All-Star Team for the second time in his career, averaging his career-high in PPG at the time. Thanks to Scottie’s improvement as a scorer and all-around offensive player, the Bulls became a force in the East and Michael had the help he needed to win his second-straight NBA title. No doubt about it, Pippen deserved to rank top-10 in the MVP race.
8. Tim Hardaway - 64 MVP Points
Stats: 23.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 10.0 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Thanks to his elite ball-handling and offensive stardom, Tim Hardaway finished 10th in the MVP voting during the 1992 season. The miniature yet speedy point guard only stood 6’0”, but had elite offensive powers that guided the Golden State Warriors to the third seed in the West. Hardaway led his team in assists and made his second-straight All-Star Team in his third NBA season.
Hardaway was spectacular all season and his numbers were MVP worthy considering how the team functioned offensively. With “Tim Bug” handling the rock, Chris Mullin had a ton of open looks as he averaged 25.6 PPG on 52.4% FG, 36.6% 3-PT FG, and 83.3% FT. The Warriors today are an exceptionally offensive team, but Hardaway’s squad could have given them a run for their money had they played today.
7. Mark Price - 66 MVP Points
Stats: 17.3 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Mark Price was a beast for the Cleveland Cavaliers, guiding them to 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. Price’s ability to impact the offensive end of the floor was sublime because he was more than just an efficient knockdown shooter. Price was far and away the most important figure for the Cavaliers and his consistency as a scorer and floor general was rewarded with a top-7 finish in MVP voting.
Unfortunately for Price and the Cavaliers, they ran into the champion Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, falling in six games. Still, Price was the architect behind an excellent team that competed on both ends of the floor. Averaging 17.3 PPG, 7.4 APG, and a league-leading 94.7% FT, Price had arguably his best season on a team and individual level.
6. Chris Mullin - 81 MVP Points
Stats: 25.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Chris Mullin is one of the most underrated All-Star players in NBA history, and the 1992 season is a fine example of that. The sharpshooter dropped over 25 PPG and finished third in the NBA in scoring behind Michael Jordan and Karl Malone. Mullin and the Warriors finished 3rd in the West. Chris’ ability to space the floor made him one of the most important figures in the NBA because his high-octane scoring helped him create an excellent Warriors offense.
The forward had elite shooting numbers in 1992, shooting 52.4% from the field, 36.6% from three, and 83.3% from the free-throw line. By benefitting from Tim Hardaway’s excellent playmaking ability, Mullin got a ton of open looks and made the defense pay all year long. He fell just 19 MVP points behind 5th place as well, showcasing how dominant Mullin was with the ball flying out of his hands.
5. Patrick Ewing - 100 MVP Points
Stats: 24.0 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 3.0 BPG
Patrick Ewing was the second-best center in the NBA behind David Robinson, and his top-5 MVP ranking was due to his leadership as a scorer for the New York Knicks. Patrick played all 82 total games, shot 52.2% from the field, and 73.8% from the stripe. Ewing’s consistency as a scorer and all-around player was important for the New York Knicks finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Ewing does not get enough credit for being an elite low-post scorer, because he simply was. The big man had a nice hook shot, and was adept at grabbing boards on both ends of the floor, normally cleaning up misses and getting easy putback points. One of the best players in the 1990s, Ewing was a force in the paint and he fell short for the MVP award behind four other players.
4. Karl Malone - 262 MVP Points
Stats: 28.0 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Karl Malone was an absolute beast as an offensive player, dominating the boards and the scoring charts with ease. The Mailman was the undisputed superstar for the Utah Jazz and he was a consistent force on the inside and from mid-range. In most years, Karl Malone would have run away with the MVP award because he was an outstanding presence in every game. The superstar power forward played 81 total games, at 37.7 minutes per game for the Jazz.
What hurt Karl Malone the most was that the Jazz could not grab the first seed in the Western Conference behind the Portland Trail Blazers, and also finished third overall in the NBA. Had he managed to be the second-leading scorer in the NBA and finished first in the West, he might have had a chance to finish in the top-3 of the MVP race. Still, his season did not go to waste as the Utah Jazz made it to the Western Conference Finals in a showdown against the Trail Blazers.
3. David Robinson - 337 MVP Points
Stats: 23.2 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.3 SPG, 4.5 BPG
Unsurprisingly, one of the most dominant all-around centers ever appears in the top-3. David Robinson had a sensational season in 1992, averaging a monster double-double and also leading the NBA in blocks per game with a whopping 4.5 BPG. Thanks to Robinson’s ability as a defender and scorer, the Spurs finished 5th in the Western Conference.
Based on numbers alone, David Robinson would have won the MVP in any other season, but he still had his efforts rewarded with his only Defensive Player of the Year award and third straight All-Star selection in his third season. The Admiral was an excellent scorer inside the paint, using his powerhouse physique and soft touch to punish defenders before swatting away shots on the other end.
2. Clyde Drexler - 561 MVP Points
Stats: 25.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Clyde Drexler finished second in MVP voting in 1992, and he would have run away with the award if not for Jordan's one-of-a-kind season. The superstar shooting guard was just a monster in every statistical category, leading the Portland Trail Blazers to the best record in the Western Conference and second in the NBA behind the dominant Chicago Bulls. He played 76 games with an average of 36.2 minutes per game and was a terrific scorer and all-around player from the floor.
He shot 47.0% from the floor and 33.7% from deep during the year while finishing fourth in the NBA in scoring. As expected, at the end of the season, Drexler carried the Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals in a superstar showdown against Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Unfortunately for Drexler, he had to settle for second place during the year to Jordan in both the MVP race and the NBA Finals. Thanks to Jordan’s brilliance, the Trail Blazers lost to the Bulls in six games which topped off yet another all-time great season by the greatest player of all time.
1. Michael Jordan - 900 MVP Points
Stats: 30.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 6.1 APG, 2.3 SPG, 0.9 BPG
What is there to say about the legendary shooting guard that hasn’t been said already? Jordan was both the best scorer in the league and also the best defensive perimeter guard in the league, posting ridiculous statistics on both ends of the floor. He was on a mission to completely dominate the rest of the NBA and he was far and away the best player on the planet.
Jordan averaged 30.1 PPG on 51.9% from the field over the entire season, adding in 2.3 SPG and 0.9 BPG, which are incredible defensive numbers for a guard.
Even beyond numbers, Jordan was on a different level, as he played 80 games at an average of 38.8 minutes per game. MJ led the Bulls to the first seed in the East and first in the NBA overall in what was probably one of his best regular seasons in terms of impact and leadership. All year, a showdown with opposing guard Clyde Drexler and the Trail Blazers was being marketed, and we certainly got that at the end of the year. With the Chicago Bulls winning the NBA championship at the expense of Portland, Jordan capped off his MVP season with a scoring title, an NBA championship, and the Finals MVP award.