NBA

Who Has the Most MVPs in NBA History?

The list of NBA players with the most MVPs in league history.

December 18, 2023

The best player on the floor. That’s what usually wins basketball games. And, over the course of a 82-game season, the “best player on the floor” also usually comes away with the Most Valuable Player award.

The NBA MVP award has been given out since the 1955-56 season, with the official name being the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. The award was renamed to the Michael Jordan Trophy for the 2022-23 season. Several players have won the MVP award more than once, a testament to their consistent greatness.

Ranking the MVP Kings: Top Players with Multiple MVPs

6 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Never had a 7-2 center displayed skills like Kareem – previously named Lew Alcindor – as he did in leading UCLA to three NCAA championships. He then won his first NBA MVP award in 1971 and then led the Milwaukee Bucks to the title, winning Finals MVP as well.

Alcindor changed his name in 1971 after winning the title, and won the MVP award five more times, in 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1980. He also helped lead the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers to championships in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.

Abdul-Jabbar is second all-time in points (38,387) and third in rebounds (17,440).

5 – Bill Russell

The 6-10 defensive stalwart won the MVP in 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965 and led the Boston Celtics to 11 championships in his 13-year career. With a 7-4 wingspan, Russell was formidable in the paint on defense, with a rebounding and shot-blocking presence that was second to none. He wasn’t a prolific scorer (15.1 ppg) but his rebounding (22.5 rpg) and shot blocking more than made up for it.

5 – Michael Jordan

The GOAT. Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to step onto a basketball court. “His Airness” won the MVP in 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 1998 with the Chicago Bulls. His 1987-88 season was especially remarkable with MJ’s rare accomplishment of leading the league in scoring (35.0 ppg) and steals (3.2 spg). He was also named Defensive Player of the Year in 1988, and Rookie of the Year in 1984-85. Jordan also won six NBA titles – being named Finals MVP in each of those years. His greatness was evident even before his NBA career, as he hit the winning shot with 15 seconds left to lift North Carolina over Georgetown for the NCAA Tournament championship in 1982.

4 – LeBron James

If there’s any competition for Jordan’s crown in the modern game, it’s LeBron. “The King” was the most widely talked about phenom in NBA history as a teenager before his first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003-04, and he has lived up to it and then some. The 6-9, 250-pound hybrid of athleticism, power, size, and skill — and ability to bend a game to his will — captured the MVP in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. He has averaged more than 25 ppg for 20 straight seasons and is the leading scorer in NBA history. He has won four NBA titles, including three with different teams — the Cleveland Cavaliers (2016), Miami Heat (2012, 2013) and Los Angeles Lakers (2020). LJ is also fourth all-time in assists and 31st in rebounds.

4 – Wilt Chamberlain

“The Stilt” was the most feared player in the league during his tenure, standing at 7-1 and 275 pounds. He is the only player in history to score 100 points in a game, which he did on March 2, 1962, as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. That season, he averaged 50.4 points per game and 25.7 rebounds per game. He won the MVP award in 1960, 1966, 1967 and 1968. After his Warriors tenure, he won titles with the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers.

3 – Magic Johnson

The ringleader of the “Showtime” Lakers in the 1980s, the NCAA champion from Michigan State won the MVP in 1987, 1989 and 1990. Magic was a point guard in a power forward’s body, running the show on a team that included James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In one of the greatest single-game performances in NBA history, Johnson filled in for an injured Abdul-Jabbar at center in Game 6 of the Finals against the 76ers and had 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists to lead the title-clinching victory, the first of his five titles.

Johnson retired in 1991 after contracting HIV but returned for the 1992 All-Star Game and 32 games with the Lakers in 1996.

3 – Larry Bird

“The Hick from French Lick” won the MVP three straight years – 1984 through 1986 – while he was leading the Boston Celtics to championships in ’84 and ’86. He won his first title in 1981. Bird is the only person to be named Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year – the latter two awards coming with the Indiana Pacers organization.

Bird mixed incredible basketball IQ with great ball skills and brilliant outside shooting. He sank 58 three-pointers in his rookie season (1979-80), which is when the NBA adopted the three-point line.

Bird and Magic Johnson– who had battled in the NCAA title game in 1979 – carried their rivalry into the NBA, where they met three times in the Finals.

3 – Moses Malone

The “Chairman of the Boards” led the NBA in rebounding five straight times (1981-85) and was named MVP in 1979, 1982 and 1983. He captured his lone NBA title in 1983 with Julius Irving and the Philadelphia 76ers. Malone was the first player to enter the pros straight out of high school, being drafted by the Utah Stars of the ABA in 1974.

MVP Voting Process and Criteria

From 1956 through 1980, NBA players voted on the MVP award. But from the 1980-81 season onward, a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada have voted on the award.

The voters rank five players on their vote, with these point totals awarded for each ranking:

  • 1st — 10 points
  • 2nd — 7
  • 3rd — 5
  • 4th — 3
  • 5th – 1

Starting from 2010, one ballot was cast by fans through online voting.

2024 Award Contenders

Currently, the favorites to win the 2024 MVP award according to Tipico odds are:

  • Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) +190
  • Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) +370
  • Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) +550
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) +750
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder) +770

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Alex Valdes
Alex Valdes is Web Content Manager at Tipico North America. He has written, edited and performed user and site analysis at MoneyTalksNews, NBC Sports, MSN, Bing, MSNBC, as well as newspapers and magazines.
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