Ranking the best NBA MVPs of all time


The MVP in the NBA is the best player over the regular season who made the biggest difference to their teams. We all want to know who the best of the best is, so we decided to rank the NBA MVPs to see who comes out on top. There’s a pretty long list of outstanding MVPs, so who’s going to stand above the greats?

7. Larry Bird – 3 MVP wins

The Celtics had Larry Bird to thank for maintaining their success, and his team of the ’80s was the last dynasty in Boston. Bird had a great rivalry with Magic Johnson at the Lakers, and for much of the 1980s, it was those two teams who basically swapped championships.

Ranking the best NBA MVPs of all time

Bird might not have been the most physical of players, but he knew his way around the court, and he often ran the show for the Celtics. His accuracy from both free throw and field goal range made him a constant danger and his three MVP wins in a row proved how important he was to Boston.

6. Wilt Chamberlain – 4 MVP wins

Wilt Chamberlain was a powerhouse that just couldn’t be contained whenever he got in the paint. He was so strong and focused on getting points that he never scored a point from beyond the arc. Chamberlain was all about scoring, and in one season his per game average was 50.4, which was, of course, a league record.

The unstoppable center led the league in rebounds per game on countless occasions as well as finishing with a higher field goal percentage than his competitors too. There is only one thing that really stands against Chamberlain, and that’s the fact that he wasn’t able to lead his teams to more championships.

The iconic center won the NBA championship twice, but perhaps with his skillset that should have been more.

5. Magic Johnson – 3 MVP wins

With Magic Johnson on the roster, the Lakers were one of the most dominant teams of the ’80s. Johnson’s career average of 11.2 assists per game was a league record and his ability to steal the ball meant no teams were ever safe, even when trying to score. The NBA in the ’80s were dominated by three players, Johnson, Bird, and Jordan, but Magic was the only point guard to dominate the MVP award.

4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 6 MVP wins

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has won more MVP awards than anyone else in history with six. The center was so determined to score points for the Lakers he ended his career as the top scorer of all time, a record that he still holds decades later. One thing that really stands out about Abdul-Jabbar is how long he was able to stick around at the top for.

Ranking the best NBA MVPs of all time

He started his career in 1969 and didn’t finish until 1989, though toward the end of his career he really wasn’t the same player. His scoring averages were down and so were his rebounds, but for what he did during the early part of his career he’s recognized as one of the greats.

3. Bill Russell – 5 MVP wins

Bill Russel has won so many NBA championships he doesn’t have enough fingers on his hands to wear all of his championship rings. He won a total of 11 championships, including eight in a row from 1959 to 1966. The formidable center made coaching the legendary Celtics team of the ’50s and ’60s easy as he did most of the work.

One of the most outstanding statistics from Russell’s career is the fact he averaged 22.5 rebounds over game over his entire career. The man just kept the ball alive all the time at both ends of the court. His scoring wasn’t as prolific as the great Wilt Chamberlain during the same era, which sometimes overshadows what a contribution he made on the court.

His five MVP wins show that he was a vital part of that Boston team that dominated all every side that came before them.

2. LeBron James – 4 MVP wins

LeBron James was unstoppable when he won four MVP awards in just five seasons for the Cavaliers and Heat. His will to win drives him on to put up amazing numbers on the court and many believe he dragged the Cavaliers all the way to championship glory single-handedly.

Ranking the best NBA MVPs of all time

During his first period with the Cavaliers LeBron was putting up scoring averages around the 30 points per game mark, but his overall play is why he shines so brightly. He leads by example and pretty much always averages over 35 minutes per game, because he is that important.

James has been chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan his entire career, and many believe he is on the same level as the Bulls legend.

1. Michael Jordan – 5 MVP wins

We all know how good Michael Jordan was at scoring, and thanks to the number of times he outscored anybody else in the league he’s considered the GOAT. With the rise of LeBron, some people think there is a real discussion to be had about which number 23 is better.

We’ve gone with Jordan, but if James can lead yet another team to NBA championship glory with an MVP season, we might have to rethink. In ten of his professional basketball seasons, Jordan led the league in scoring average, which is incredible.

These players were voted the league MVP more than once and really made names for themselves in basketball. They are the best of the best, and because of them, they were able to secure multiple NBA championships for their teams.