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Only NBA Players Who Led The League In Scoring And Won The Championship In The Same Season

Only NBA Players Who Led The League In Scoring And Won The Championship In The Same Season

A player capturing a scoring title has to be a special achievement, given how hard it is to lead the entire league in points per game. Carrying a team on offense means a player must not only be in tremendous physical shape but also have an elite mentality geared towards dominating. That is why every player that has led the league in scoring has been a renowned star at some point in their career. But what if a player can lead the league in scoring and still lead their side to a championship victory at the end of the year?

That would be an extraordinary achievement indeed, but only five players in NBA history have ever managed to achieve this feat. Obviously, all five players are ranked among the best who have ever lived and were recognized as Hall of Famers. It is truly amazing that over an insane amount of time passed in the NBA, only five players have ever had the chance to win a scoring title and an NBA championship in the same season. Without further ado, here are the only instances in which this rare feat has occurred.


1946-47 NBA Season

Joe Fulks - 23.2 PPG

Joe Fulks (63 Points)

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, All-NBA First Team Selection, Scoring Champion

In his first NBA season, 6’5” power forward Joe Fulks led the NBA in scoring and also won the NBA championship. The big man averaged 23.2 PPG on 30.5% shooting from the field and 73.0% from the free-throw line. At the time, those were considered very solid numbers because the players were generally smaller and less efficient without the benefit of technology that is available today. But the forward was an absolute star during his day and the most impactful offensive player.

Fulks, a member of the Philadelphia Warriors, managed to average 22.2 PPG on 28.8% from the field in the playoffs. The Warriors made quick work of the St. Louis Bombers in the first round and swept the New York Knicks in the Semifinals. In the NBA Finals, the Warriors took down the Chicago Stags in 5 games with Fulks leading all scorers in 3 of the games. In the closeout Game 5, Fulks dropped 34 points to win the title. He also became the first player to win a scoring title and an NBA title in the same year.


1948-49 NBA Season

George Mikan - 28.3 PPG

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, All-NBA First Team Selection, Scoring Champion

The first true superstar of professional basketball, George Mikan, was a monster at 6’10” and 245 lbs. He was so dominant that he won 5 championships, including the first two at the start of his career. The center averaged 28.3 PPG in his first season, clearly marking the league as his territory as a member of the Minneapolis Lakers. The center averaged 41.6% from the field and 77.2% from the stripe, and he certainly got his shots up. He averaged 23.4 field goal attempts for the season along with 11.5 free-throw attempts.

In the playoffs, Mikan averaged 30.3 PPG as the Lakers made quick work of the Chicago Stags and Rochester Royals before defeating the Washington Capitols in 6 games. Mikan was exceptional in the Finals, posting 27.5 PPG to lead all scorers and also led the series in win shares. Mikan became the first of three centers to ever become a player who led the NBA in scoring during the regular season and also win an NBA championship at the end of the year. Amazingly, Mikan would do it again a year later.


1949-50 NBA Season

George Mikan - 27.4 PPG

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, All-NBA First Team Selection, Scoring Champion

In only his second NBA season, Mikan won his second championship following the first one he captured in his rookie campaign. The superstar center posted 27.4 PPG in the regular season, averaging 40.7% from the field and 77.9% from the free-throw line. The big man was once again effective at getting shots up, averaging 23.5 field goal attempts and 10.7 free-throw attempts. There was simply no answer for the big man once he had the ball in the paint, and he was often fouled to prevent him from getting any look he wanted.

In the postseason, Mikan averaged 31.3 PPG as he led the Lakers again to the Finals. Led by the big man, the Lakers swept all competition under the NBA Finals once they ran into the Syracuse Nationals. Mikan averaged 32.2 PPG to lead all players in the series and also led in win shares. Thanks to the big man’s presence in the paint, the Lakers won in 6 games and that gave Mikan his second championship. Mikan became the first player to ever win a scoring title in the regular season and also win a championship on at least two occasions.


1970-71 NBA Season

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 31.7 PPG

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, MVP, All-NBA First Team Selection, All-Defensive Second Team Selection, All-Star, Scoring Champion

In arguably the greatest and most spectacular sophomore season in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the scoring title, Finals MVP, and NBA championship in only his second NBA season. The center was spectacular in the regular season, posting 31.7 PPG and 16.0 RPG to win his first scoring title and first MVP award. He took his game to another level by delivering on the biggest stage of them all at just 23 years old in the 1971 Finals.

Against a talented Baltimore Bullets side led by Jack Marin and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Kareem proved to be the difference maker as he dominated the paint. The superstar center posted 27.0 PPG, 18.5 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 42.0 MPG while shooting 60.5% from the field. He completed a season filled with incredible achievements including a place in the All-NBA and All-Defensive Team selections. The 1970-71 season might be Kareem’s greatest season ever in terms of the magnitude of achievements earned.


1990-91 NBA Season

Michael Jordan - 31.5 PPG

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, MVP, All-NBA First Team Selection, All-Defensive First Team Selection, All-Star, Scoring Champion

While his 1988 season captures the most attention thanks to the Defensive Player of the Year achievement, Jordan’s 1991 season might be the most significant considering he finally got over the hump against the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons and went on to win his first NBA championship. Of course, that was not the only accolade the shooting guard earned. The legendary Bulls guard accomplished everything in the NBA season, from the scoring title to the MVP award to yet another All-NBA and All-Defensive Team selection.

But Michael Jordan finally made his name in the NBA Finals, dropping 31.2 PPG in the Finals series against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers, although it ended completely in the Bulls’ favor. By far the most dominant scorer, Jordan took over his first successful Finals series by taking over game after game. His first Finals appearance proved that the shooting guard was here to stay, and there was simply no other star on his level during the regular season and especially in the postseason.


1991-92 NBA Season

Michael Jordan - 30.1 PPG

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, MVP, All-NBA First Team Selection, All-Defensive First Team Selection, All-Star, Scoring Champion

For the second-straight year, Michael Jordan won the MVP award with the Chicago Bulls and also ended the season with a Finals MVP award. During the season, Michael led the league in scoring yet again by scoring an impressive 30.1 PPG, but also did it efficiently. He shot 51.9% from the field and also chipped in a solid 6.4 RPG and 6.1 APG as a member of the Chicago Bulls. But in the Finals, again, Jordan reached another level against an excellent opponent.

The superstar shooting guard averaged 35.8 PPG in the series, once again taking over the series by outscoring the likes of Clyde Drexler with the Portland Trail Blazers. Averaging 35.8 PPG on 52.6% shooting and chipping in 6.5 APG, no player was as dominant as the legendary Bulls guard. As seen in the docuseries “The Last Dance”, Michael Jordan took to heart that Clyde Drexler was being compared to him and shut down those comparisons immediately. There was no doubt who the best shooting guard in the world was by the end of the 1992 season.


1992-93 NBA Season

Michael Jordan - 32.6 PPG

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, All-NBA First Team Selection, All-Defensive Second Team Selection, All-Star, Scoring Champion, Steals Champion

Michael Jordan once again led the NBA in scoring, posting 32.6 PPG on 49.5% shooting from the field, 35.2% from three, and 83.7% from the free-throw line. These were considered elite offensive percentages at the time, especially since the three-point shot was not even valued. But the shooting guard led the league in steals as well and made another All-NBA and All-Defensive Team before making it to the NBA Finals again. Michael Jordan seemed to be getting better with each Finals series because the wins would keep piling up as the Bulls guard continued his scoring dominance. The superstar dropped 41.0 PPG on 50.8% shooting, sublime numbers for a perimeter scorer that takes the bulk of the shots.

Against a dominant Phoenix Suns squad in the Finals, Jordan had every answer that this opposition threw at him. With his third championship and his three-peat solidified, everybody in the NBA Universe was in Michael Jordan’s world. Completing his trifecta of championships and Finals MVPs already made His Airness the greatest of all time, but the shooting guard would not be done just yet, as he would return to dominance after a brief retirement phase.


1995-96 NBA Season

Michael Jordan - 30.4 PPG

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, MVP, All-NBA First Team Selection, All-Defensive First Team Selection, All-Star, Scoring Champion

In the 1996 season, Jordan returned with a vengeance. He realized he belonged on the basketball court after only playing 17 games the season prior and assumed his position as the greatest to ever do it. He posted 30.4 PPG on 49.5% from the field, competing in 37.7 MPG and playing all 82 games. It was great to have His Airness back, especially as he won yet another MVP award to add to his collection after spearheading a 72-10 squad. Again, Jordan led the Chicago Bulls into the NBA Finals against Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton of the Seattle SuperSonics.

The shooting guard was the man in the series, although it did not come as easy as many would have thought. It seemed clear that Jordan could not dominate Payton as much as he did other players, although he did get the job done by averaging 27.3 PPG on 41.5% shooting. Of course, the Finals MVP trophy was given to him as he was the leading scorer and win-shares leader among all players. With 4 NBA titles and 4 Finals MVPs to his name, many felt that they could be in the moment of witnessing another 3-peat. Obviously, they were right.


1996-97 NBA Season

Michael Jordan - 29.6 PPG 

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, All-NBA First Team Selection, All-Defensive Second Team Selection, All-Star, Scoring Champion

The following season after his 4th championship victory, Jordan was in his groove. He posted 29.6 PPG on 48.6% shooting from the field, 37.4% from three, and 83.3% from the free-throw line. The shooting guard was at his peak in terms of scoring the ball efficiently, and he once again became the favorite to win it all. Unsurprisingly, the superstar shooting guard made another All-NBA and All-Defensive Team while adding an All-Star selection with a scoring title. The superstar Bulls guard once again staked his claim as the single most dominant player in the world, and another deep postseason run ensued. The Bulls made quick work of the Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, and Miami Heat over the first three rounds.

Jordan and the Bulls found themselves in the Finals in a matchup against the Utah Jazz, a team led by superstars Karl Malone and John Stockton. Jordan led all scorers again by posting 32.3 PPG on 45.6% shooting from the field, once again proving there was no answer for him when he was at his best. MJ was not only the most athletic player in the league but the smartest player in the game who started tasting glory again. With 5 championships and 5 Finals MVPs on his resume, MJ would complete his second 3-peat the following year.


1997-98 NBA Season

Michael Jordan - 28.7 PPG

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, MVP, All-NBA First Team Selection, All-Defensive First Team Selection, All-Star, Scoring Champion

Michael Jordan went on a tear during the 1998 season, posting 28.7 PPG on 46.5% shooting from the field before capturing another MVP award and adding another All-NBA and All-Defensive Team selection. Unsurprisingly, Jordan led the league in scoring and would go on to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 62-20 record which was tied for the best record in the league alongside the Utah Jazz. Of course, it was going to be written that the Bulls and the Jazz would meet again following the exciting 1997 series.

In a Finals rematch, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls took on the Utah Jazz in a 6-game series. Despite the best efforts of Karl Malone (25.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG), the Jazz could not force Jordan and the Bulls to play in a Game 7. The GOAT averaged 33.5 PPG on 42.7% shooting over the 6 games, leading all scorers and also leading all players in win shares (4.8). It was always going to be written that MJ would capture his 6th NBA title and 6th Finals MVP award during the infamous “Last Dance” season and that would close the chapter on the most spectacular athlete in the history of team sports.


1999-00 NBA Season

Shaquille O’Neal - 29.7 PPG

Achievements And Awards: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, MVP, All-NBA First Team Selection, All-Defensive Second Team Selection, All-Star, Scoring Champion

In the 1999-00 season, the same year the big man won his first NBA title, Shaquille O'Neal received his first and only MVP award. Shaq, alongside Kobe Bryant, led the Los Angeles Lakers to a league-best 67-15 record and totally dominated the NBA Finals, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was the best player in the league during that particular season. Shaq was simply out of his mind all year, and it would become clear by the All-Star break that no team had an answer for the most dominant player in the game.

Shaq dropped a league-high 29.7 PPG in the regular season and took it to another level in the NBA Finals. Against the Indiana Pacers, the superstar center recorded absurd statistics of 38.0 PPG, 16.7 RPG, and 2.7 BPG. Rik Smits, Dale Davis, and Austin Croshere were just a few of the opposition bigs that the Diesel destroyed. Shaq had no match since no one could match his strength and explosiveness, and the Lakers prevailed in six games.

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