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1993 MVP Race: Charles Barkley Won The Award, Michael Jordan Was Surprisingly 3rd

1993 MVP Race: Charles Barkley Won The Award, Michael Jordan Was Surprisingly 3rd

One of the most exciting parts of an NBA season is the MVP race, where superstar players compete every night for a chance to guide their teams to wins and place themselves in a position to capture the most valuable regular-season award. We are currently in the midst of an MVP race this season, where Joel Embiid is fighting off stiff competition from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and DeMar DeRozan as the best performer in the league.

Looking back at NBA history, some MVP races stand out more than others. One that immediately comes to mind is the 1993 MVP race, which saw multiple Hall of Famers compete against each other for the coveted award. Despite Michael Jordan’s magical season in which he finished top scorer in the league, one man came away with the MVP award in 1993 and his name was Charles Barkley. With such an iconic race ending in surprising fashion, here is what the MVP race looked like in the captivating 1993 season.


Honorable Mention


David Robinson - 33 MVP Points

Stats: 23.4 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 3.2 BPG

David Robinson

David Robinson, “The Admiral”, was at his superstar best during the 1993 season by averaging a monster double-double and consistently dominating the court every night for the San Antonio Spurs. The big man put up 23.4 PPG and 11.7 RPG, while also chipping in 3.2 BGP which ranked 5th in the NBA. A powerful presence in the paint, Robinson shot 50.1% from the field due to his efficient way of getting any look he wanted near the basket.

Robinson fell short of the top-5 race, mainly because the Spurs had a decent but unspectacular record of 49-33. San Antonio fell behind the Trail Blazers, Seattle Seattle SuperSonics, Houston Rockets, and Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference rankings. With the 5th seed, Robinson had a slim shot of winning MVP despite his monster statistics every night. Still, The Admiral deserves a ton of credit for being a two-way superstar for the Spurs.


5. Dominique Wilkins - 54 MVP Points

Stats: 29.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Dominique Wilkins

Perhaps the greatest Atlanta Hawks star ever, Dominique Wilkins was on a tear during the 1993 season. An incredible dunker with otherworldly athleticism, Dominique made highlight-reels every night due to his ability to put opponents on posters and make the game look beautiful in every way. Wilkins finished the season averaging 29.9 PPG on 46.8% shooting, including 38.0% from three while averaging 4.5 attempts per game from beyond. In an era where superstars rarely attempted many threes, Dominique seemingly found his range because his shooting was the second-highest in his career in 1993 (38.8% in 1995).

Of course, the athletic swingman would make his 8th straight All-Star appearance. Thanks to Wilkins’ consistent scoring, the Hawks finished with a top-8 finish in the Eastern Conference with a 43-39 record. Once again, the team record was a major factor in a superstar player’s standing, because a 7th place finish was not going to gift Dominique the MVP award. But he came awfully close, putting up monster scoring numbers every night and finishing second in scoring behind Michael Jordan.


4. Patrick Ewing - 359 MVP Points

Stats: 24.2 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.0 BPG

Patrick Ewing

The legendary New York Knicks center was also sensational during the 1993 season, helping his team finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 60-22. Ahead of the dominant Chicago Bulls and the supremely talented Cleveland Cavaliers, guiding the Knicks to the top record in the conference was a massive factor in Ewing’s bid for the MVP award. Of course, his production was also elite when looking at his numbers. The paint scorer put up 24.2 PPG on 50.3% shooting from the field, while also ranking 7th in RPG with 12.1.

Ewing also ranked 9th in BPG, showcasing his elite defense in stifling opposing big men every night. A talented scorer with winning intangibles, New York Knicks fans firmly believed their man was the MVP of the league. If not for the play of 3 other incredible players, Ewing would have easily won MVP considering team record and consistent play on both ends of the floor. Still, finishing in the top-5 is no easy feat, and considering how tough the 90s were to play in, Ewing can look back at his 4th place finish with pride.


3. Michael Jordan - 565 MVP Points

Stats: 32.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.5 APG, 2.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Michael Jordan

Many Michael Jordan fans are dumbfounded how the best player in the game did not run away with the MVP award. Quite frankly, he could have won the award every year due to his incredible talent and ability to score the ball at an inhuman level. Jordan led the NBA in scoring with 32.6 PPG, his 7th straight time, and also shot an extremely efficient 49.5% from the field. The legendary shooting guard also shot 35.2% from three, the 5th highest mark of his career. From the line, Jordan was at his usual best by draining 83.7% of his foul shots. Defensively, Michae was also on point.

The Bulls superstar led the league in steals at 2.8 SPG by edging 2nd place Mookie Blaylock (2.5 SPG). Jordan also ranked 3rd in BPG among all guards, behind Ron Harper (0.9 BPG) and Reggie Lewis (1.0 BPG). The fact that Jordan put up these types of numbers is a testament to his greatness as a star, and he also led the Chicago Bulls to the second seed in the East with a 57-25 record. It is obvious that Jordan had a massive argument for the MVP award, but he could not pass two other Hall of Fame players to achieve it. But still, Jordan got the last laugh by capturing his 3rd NBA title and 3rd Finals MVP award.


2. Hakeem Olajuwon - 647 MVP Points

Stats: 26.1 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 4.2 BPG

Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon had a magical season in 1993, dominating every area of the basketball court as the best player for the Houston Rockets. The big man averaged 26.1 PPG (4th in the NBA) on 52.9% shooting from the field while guiding the Houston Rockets to the 2nd seed in the Western Conference (55-27). Armed with an unstoppable post-game and terrific defensive abilities, Olajuwon almost won the MVP award in 1993. The Dream ranked 1st in the league in blocks by putting up an incredible 4.2 BPG, and 3rd in RPG with his 13.0 RPG average.

The Dream meant everything to the Rockets and eventually helped the team reach the Western Conference Semifinals. There is no doubt that Olajuwon is one of the top-five greatest centers ever, and his dominance was on full display during the 1993 season. Only one man stood in Hakeem’s way from winning his first MVP award, and his name was Charles Barkley. Luckily for Olajuwon, he would eventually win his first and only MVP trophy the following year in 1994.


1. Charles Barkley - 835 MVP Points

Stats: 25.6 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG

Charles Barkley 1993 NBA MVP

The fact that Charles Barkley was able to beat out 5 other elite Hall of Famers for the MVP award just shows how exceptional the 6’6” power forward was in 1993. If it wasn’t for Barkley’s dominance and leadership for the Phoenix Suns, we would have been looking at Hakeem Olajuwon as a back-to-back MVP winner. Looking at impact and team record, there is still no doubt that Barkley indeed deserved his only MVP trophy.

The Suns finished with the top record in the league (62-20), and their superstar was at the core of it. Barkley ranked 5th in scoring, 6th in rebounds, and the leading playmaker for big men (his 5.5 APG ranked 1st among power forwards and centers). Barkley also finished 3rd among bigs in steals per game. Despite being undersized, Charles Barkley was a force in the paint and his 52.0% field goal percentage meant he often delivered in an efficient manner for the Suns. Barkley can look back at his excellent season with pride because he completed one of the greatest MVP seasons in history on his own terms.

If Charles would have won the NBA title against the Chicago Bulls, he might have had an iconic season for the ages. But the big man could not top off his excellent regular season with a trophy, because he fell to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals.

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