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Every Back-To-Back MVP Winner In NBA History

Every Back-To-Back MVP Winner In NBA History

The Most Valuable Player is how the NBA rewards the best individual player of a regular season. It isn't necessarily awarding the player with the best numbers, but the player with the most tangible impact on his entire team. A top-tier team's success is dependent on its best player, and the best player can make even an average team look like one of the best in the league. 

The NBA has been awarding an MVP trophy since 1956-57 when Bob Petit of the St. Louis Hawks became the inaugural honoree. 35 players have won the award over the years, with 15 players being multi-time winners. Out of the 15, 13 of them won the award in consecutive seasons. 

With Nikola Jokic becoming the 12th player to win a back-to-back MVP after following up last year's MVP with another one this season, we want to take a look at every single player to win consecutive MVP awards in NBA history.


Bill Russell 

Bill Russell

Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 1960-61, 1962-63, 1963-64 

Total MVP Awards Won: 5

Bill Russell was a trailblazer in basketball. He was the first African-American MVP in the NBA, alongside many other firsts he achieved. The 11-time NBA Champion is deified in basketball history and was the first player to win a hat-trick of MVP awards. The only other players to have done so are Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird.

Russell won three consecutive MVPs for the Boston Celtics. There isn't a lot of tracking from that era of basketball present, but Russell did win the title in each of his MVP years. He averaged more than 1300 points and 1800 rebounds over the period.


Wilt Chamberlain

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68 

Total MVP Awards Won: 4

Wilt Chamberlain was an absolute beast in his NBA career. His statistical feats aren't lost on anyone, as they have been immortalized by their sheer absurdity. Chamberlain won his first MVP in 1959-60 as part of the Philadelphia Warriors in an incredible season. However, he won a hat-trick of MVPs from 1966 to 1968.

Chamberlain led the league in scoring for one of the three seasons, leading in total rebounds every single year. He also led the league one season for assists, an incredible feat considering he was a center. Blocks were not a recorded statistic at the time, but it's fair to assume his strengths would translate over to that front as well.  


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Got Elbowed By Rookie Kent Benson, So He Punched Him In The Face In His First Game

Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 1970-71, 1972-73; 1975-76, 1976-77

Total MVP Awards Won: 6

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the first player in NBA history to win consecutive MVP trophies on two different occasions. Since him, only LeBron James has recreated this feat. Jabbar won his first two consecutive MVPs with the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons. He won one more MVP in Milwaukee before getting another pair of MVPs in back-to-back years with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975-76 and 1976-77.

Kareem is one of the greatest players in NBA history (most of the players here are) and is still the all-time leader in scoring. He won a sixth MVP (most all-time) with the Lakers in 1979-80. Kareem scored over 5000 points and pulled down over 2000 rebounds in his first MVP spell, then got the 2000+ rebounds and 599 blocks (led the league both years) in his back-to-back MVPs with the Lakers. 


Moses Malone 

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 1981-82, 1982-83

Total MVP Awards Won: 3

Moses Malone is the only player in history to win the MVP award in consecutive seasons for two different teams. His first award came with the Houston Rockets and the second came with the Philadelphia 76ers. His year in Houston saw him score over 2500+ points and lead the league in rebounds. However, he would leave the Rockets after becoming one of the rare MVPs to also be a first-round exit.

He would prove his worth with the 76ers in 1982-83, leading the league in rebounding again. While he scored less than 2000 points, his impact was felt and he won the MVP again. This time, he got to follow it through with a championship. That is still the last championship the 76ers have won in franchise history. 


Larry Bird 

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86

Total MVP Awards Won: 3

Larry Bird decided to win every single one of his MVPs in a three-year span to become the third player in history to have won three consecutive MVP awards. All three awards came for the Celtics, as Bird would also win two championships in those three seasons, one in 1984 and the other in 1986.

Over his reign of terror in the league, Bird scored over 6000 points to solidify his MVPs with a scoring array never seen before from a player of his size. He was also an active rebounder and playmaker, totaling over 800 rebounds and 600 assists in that time. His adept defensive play was also a marvel to see, as Bird was truly a one-of-a-kind player.


Magic Johnson

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 1988-89, 1989-90

Total MVP Awards Won: 3

If Bird was one-of-a-kind, Magic Johnson was well... Magic. Johnson boasted an incredibly unique frame for a point guard, standing at 6'9 and being able to play and guard all five positions on the floor. While he was never a high-volume scorer, Magic was an incredible playmaker and defender. His control of the game at his size hasn't been replicated by anyone else as a true point guard. 

Magic won three MVPs in his career, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. Two came in back-to-back seasons in 1988-89 and 89-90. Magic scored over 1700 points both years and averaged over 900 assists each season. He won a title the first year but fell before the Phoenix Suns in the second round in 1990. 


Michael Jordan

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 1990-91, 1991-92

Total MVP Awards Won: 5

Michael Jordan could have won MVP every year of his NBA career, but the NBA only awarded 'His Airness' the trophy 5 times. The only time he won the award twice in consecutive seasons was in 1991 and 1992. He spent all of his MVP seasons with the Chicago Bulls and won his first two NBA championships in the two years of his consecutive MVP wins.

In those years, Jordan scored nearly 5000 points, leading the league both years. He was also a defensive monster, totaling 405 steals and a respectable 1004 rebounds. Jordan's impact was like no other player before him and it was incredible to have had a player like him dominate through the 90s, opening the decade with a pair of championships and MVP trophies. 


Tim Duncan

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 2001-02, 2002-03

Total MVP Awards Won: 2

'The Big Fundamental' Tim Duncan is one of the most consistent players in NBA history. He provided championship-level play from his rookie season all the way to his final season and won two MVPs to go along with his 3 Finals MVPs. He won both his MVPs in consecutive seasons in 2001-02 and 2002-03. The Spurs, unfortunately, lost out on the title in 2001, but they won the 'chip the same season Duncan got his second MVP.

Duncan missed just one game through these two seasons and never had a stat-sheet popping number. However, he did anchor an extremely solid team and was their primary defensive presence. He totaled almost 4000 points, 2000+ rebounds, and 440 blocks. Duncan was an unassuming killer on the court and made a massive impact on the game silently.  


Steve Nash

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 2004-05, 2005-06

Total MVP Awards Won: 2

Steve Nash was one of the more unlikely MVP winners of the modern era. Up until the rule changes that removed hand-checking, Nash was an All-Star level point guard. However, the man that was not expected to win even a single MVP ended up going back-to-back for the Phoenix Suns. The rule changes allowed the shifty and creative Nash to instantly catapult him into the upper echelon of the league. 

Nash put up historic efficiency numbers through these two seasons as the Suns were one of the best teams in the league and changed the offensive landscape of the league by playing a fast offense orchestrated by Nash. He shot 50-40-90% shooting splits through both seasons en route to a total of 2600+ points, a far cry from the numbers we have seen some others put up. But Nash also had a mind-bending 1600+ assists through these two seasons. Despite the individual glory, Nash never won a championship in his playing career. 


LeBron James

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 2008-09, 2009-10; 2011-12, 2012-13 

Total MVP Awards Won: 4

Like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James is the only other player in NBA history to win consecutive MVPs twice. Another similarity to Kareem is that both stints came for different teams. In 2008-09 and 2009-10, LeBron won MVP for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a one-year interruption by Derrick Rose, James won two more MVPs with the Miami Heat in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

LeBron won both his Miami championships during his second stint as a back-to-back MVP. In Cleveland, he totaled over 4500 points and 1100 rebounds, while also notching over 1200 assists. His numbers went down in his Miami MVP seasons, but the team was much better in terms of record. He totaled over 3700 points and 1100 rebounds but was just shy of 1000 assists over those seasons. Over his career, LeBron has proven he could have probably won more, maybe even five in a row if Derrick Rose never won it in 2010-11.     


Stephen Curry

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 2014-15, 2015-16

Total MVP Awards Won: 2

Stephen Curry has forever enshrined his name in the history books as the greatest shooter in basketball history. Even if he is surpassed someday, everyone will always remember Curry as the three-point king who made the shot the go-to jumper in an NBA player's arsenal. Steph has won just two MVPs, but they came in consecutive seasons for the Golden State Warriors.

Curry was crowned a champion at the end of the first season, but the second season saw him become the only unanimous MVP in league history. His Warriors also won 73 games in the regular season, the most by any team in NBA history. Curry had over 4200 points and 1100 assists through these MVP seasons, as he made a boggling 688 threes over these two seasons. 


Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 2018-19, 2019-20

Total MVP Awards Won: 2

Giannis Antetokounmpo earned his place on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team despite being a player who has just been in the league for 8 seasons. However, by season 4, Giannis was already an MVP-level player on the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis won back-to-back MVPs in 2019 and 2020 for his transcendent play on both sides of the ball. Giannis also won Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.

Both these years ended without a championship, as the Bucks couldn't even make it to the NBA Finals. However, they led the East both years in record as Giannis totaled 3800+ points, 1700+ rebounds, 778 assists, 153 steals, and 176 blocks. These are incredible numbers across the board, but were confined to the regular season until last season, when the Bucks and Giannis finally won a championship they are looking to defend this season. 


Nikola Jokic

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Years Of Consecutive MVP Awards: 2020-21, 2021-22

Total MVP Awards Won: 2

The latest player to enter this illustrious list is Nikola Jokic, who just won back-to-back MVPs after being awarded the 2022 MVP honor. Jokic is one of the most unique big men to ever play the game of basketball, with his incredible playmaking abilities along with rebounding and scoring. However, Jokic fell short of the championship both years with the Nuggets, as his injured team didn't have the depth required to make a playoff run. 

Over the last two seasons, Jokic has totaled almost 1800 rebounds, 1100+ assists, 204 steals, and 111 blocks. All of this is topped off by the nearly 4000 points he has scored in this period. Jokic's style of play has never been seen before and he is already in the conversation for all-time great playmaker despite being a slow-moving 7-footer. He hasn't been past the second round in both these years, so the hopes for Jokic to take a leap next season will be high. 


Winning Back-To-Back MVP Award Is An Amazing Individual Success

Winning one MVP award is hard enough, let alone two in consecutive seasons. These elite group of few have done so. All of them have become champions except Steve Nash and Nikola Jokic. Jokic is still just 26 years old and has a lot to still achieve, so there will be optimism for him. However, the league is only going to get tougher to win in.

With the new generation of talent like Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, Trae Young, Ja Morant, etc., who will be the next player to win a back-to-back MVP? Even if they do, can their careers live up to the great ones already on this list? Only time will tell.

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