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NBA mvps by season

INTRODUCTION

In NBA, the MVP (Most Valuable Player) is considered to be the best player of the season. The award was first given for the 1955-1956 season.

 

Charts

1.  NBA MVP Awards by Position (%)

2. NBA MVP Awards by Position by Decade

3. Race by Period of Birth of NBA MVPs

4. Region of Birth by Period of Birth of NBA MVPs

5. Tallest and Shortest NBA MVPs

Data Table

6. NBA MVPs by Position, Place of Birth, Height and Racial Group

The regional distribution of origin, the most common state of birth and the distribution by race of the best players shows how widespread and seriously the sport is played in a particular place and community since a greater talent pool tends to produce more great players in any sport. The distribution of the award by position shows the importance of each position to a team and varies over time depending on how strategies have evolved. Unlike American football, there is no one position in basketball which is considered of far greater importance than any other position. 

Looking at NBA MVPs by position shows that the center position has taken up the largest percentage of NBA MVPs with 38.8% of the total. This is largely due to multiple MVPs won by 3 NBA greats – Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

 

 

However things changed. With the addition of the 3 point arc in the 1979-80 season, NBA basketball became more perimeter oriented and the importance of the center position diminished and shooting guards like Michael Jordan, point guards like Lebron James and Magic Johnson and small forwards like Larry Bird and Stephen Curry rose to prominence. However, the past 2 MVPs have been given to Serbian center Nikola Jokić so this could be an indicator of a return to prominence of this once dominant position.

Wilt Chamberlain, who played in the center position, was awarded the MVP 4 times in 1960, 1966, 1967 and 1968. 

Although 3 of the first 4 MVPs were white, the NBA has been dominated by black players from the 1960s onwards. In total, there have been 8 different white NBA MVPs with a total of 13 MVP wins including 3 times winner Larry Bird. From the 1986/1987 season to the 2003/2004 season, all MVPs were black. Black players make up the majority of players in the NBA reflecting the fact that basketball is more popular in black communities. 

Larry Bird was awarded the MVP 3 times in 1984, 1985 and 1986. He is one of seven white players to have been given the award. 

The South has the largest number of MVPs. Given the dominance of NBA by black players, it's not surprising that the region with by far the largest black population has the most MVPs. The Northeast was once the 2nd best region for producing NBA talent. 3 of the NBA's most successful players, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, are from this region and have a combined 15 MVPs. More NBA MVPs have been born outside the USA than in the western USA. There have been 5 different NBA MVPs born outside the US - Hakeem Olajuwon of Nigeria in 1994, Steven Nash of South Africa in 2005 & 2006 and Dirk Nowitzki of Germany in 2007, Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2019 and 2020 and Nikola Jokić of Serbia in 2021 and 2022. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.) from New York City won the MVP a record 6 times (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1980). 

6. NBA MVPs by Position, Place of Birth, Height and Racial Group
Season
Player
Position
Team
City/town of birth
State of birth
Racial/Ethnic Group
Height
1955/56
Bob Pettit
Power forward
St. Louis Hawks
Baton Rouge
Louisiana
White/European
6'9
1956/57
Bob Cousy
Point guard
Boston Celtics
Manhattan
New York
White/European
6'1
1957/58
Bill Russell
Center
Boston Celtics (2)
Monroe
Louisiana
Black/African
6'10
1958/59
Bob Pettit (2)
Power forward
St. Louis Hawks (2)
Baton Rouge
Louisiana
White/European
6'9
1959/60
Wilt Chamberlain
Center
Philadelphia Warriors
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
Black/African
7'1
1960/61
Bill Russell (2)
Center
Boston Celtics (3)
Monroe
Louisiana
Black/African
6'10
1961/62
Bill Russell (3)
Center
Boston Celtics (4)
Monroe
Louisiana
Black/African
6'10
1962/63
Bill Russell (4)
Center
Boston Celtics (5)
Monroe
Louisiana
Black/African
6'10
1963/64
Oscar Robertson
Point guard
Cincinnati Royals
Charlotte
Tennessee
Black/African
6'5
1964/65
Bill Russell (5)
Center
Boston Celtics (6)
Monroe
Louisiana
Black/African
6'10
1965/66
Wilt Chamberlain (2)
Center
Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
Black/African
7'1
1966/67
Wilt Chamberlain (3)
Center
Philadelphia 76ers (2)
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
Black/African
7'1
1967/68
Wilt Chamberlain (4)
Center
Philadelphia 76ers (3)
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
Black/African
7'1
1968/69
Wes Unseld
Center/Forward
Baltimore Bullets
Louisville
Kentucky
Black/African
6'7
1969/70
Willis Reed
Center
New York Knicks
Bernice
Louisiana
Black/African
6'9
1970/71
AaaLew Alcindor
Center
Milwaukee Bucks
New York City
New York
Black/African
7'2
1971/72
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2)
Center
Milwaukee Bucks (2)
New York City
New York
Black/African
7'2
1972/73
Dave Cowens
Center
Boston Celtics (7)
Newport
Kentucky
White/European
6'9
1973/74
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3)
Center
Milwaukee Bucks (3)
New York City
New York
Black/African
7'2
1974/75
Bob McAdoo
Power forward
Buffalo Braves
Greensboro
North Carolina
Black/African
6'9
1975/76
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4)
Center
Los Angeles Lakers
New York City
New York
Black/African
7'2
1976/77
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5)
Center
Los Angeles Lakers (2)
New York City
New York
Black/African
7'2
1977/78
Bill Walton
Center
Portland Trail Blazers
La Mesa
California
White/European
6'11
1978/79
Moses Malone
Center
Houston Rockets
Petersburg
Virginia
Black/African
6'10
1979/80
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6)
Center
Los Angeles Lakers (3)
New York City
New York
Black/African
7'2
1980/81
Julius Erving
Small forward
Philadelphia 76ers (4)
East Meadow
New York
Black/African
6'7
1981/82
Moses Malone (2)
Center
Houston Rockets (2)
Petersburg
Virginia
Black/African
6'10
1982/83
Moses Malone (3)
Center
Philadelphia 76ers (5)
Petersburg
Virginia
Black/African
6'10
1983/84
Larry Bird
Small forward
Boston Celtics (8)
West Baden Springs
Indiana
White/European
6'9
1984/85
Larry Bird (2)
Small forward
Boston Celtics (9)
West Baden Springs
Indiana
White/European
6'9
1985/86
Larry Bird (3)
Small forward
Boston Celtics (10)
West Baden Springs
Indiana
White/European
6'9
1986/87
Magic Johnson
Point guard
Los Angeles Lakers (4)
Lansing
Michigan
Black/African
6'9
1987/88
Michael Jordan
Shooting guard
Chicago Bulls
Brooklyn
New York
Black/African
6'6
1988/89
Magic Johnson (2)
Point guard
Los Angeles Lakers (5)
Lansing
Michigan
Black/African
6'9
1989/90
Magic Johnson (3)
Point guard
Los Angeles Lakers (6)
Lansing
Michigan
Black/African
6'9
1990/91
Michael Jordan (2)
Shooting guard
Chicago Bulls (2)
Brooklyn
New York
Black/African
6'6
1991/92
Michael Jordan (3)
Shooting guard
Chicago Bulls (3)
Brooklyn
New York
Black/African
6'6
1992/93
Charles Barkley
Power forward
Phoenix Suns
Leeds
Alabama
Black/African
6'6
1993/94
Hakeem Olajuwon
Center
Houston Rockets (3)
Lagos
Nigeria
Black/African
7'0
1994/95
David Robinson
Center
San Antonio Spurs
Key West
Florida
Black/African
7'1
1995/96
Michael Jordan (4)
Shooting guard
Chicago Bulls (4)
Brooklyn
New York
Black/African
6'6
1996/97
Karl Malone
Power forward
Utah Jazz
Summerfield
Louisiana
Black/African
6'9
1997/98
Michael Jordan (5)
Shooting guard
Chicago Bulls (5)
Brooklyn
New York
Black/African
6'6
1998/99
Karl Malone (2)
Power forward
Utah Jazz (2)
Summerfield
Louisiana
Black/African
6'9
1999/00
Shaquille O'Neal
Center
Los Angeles Lakers (7)
Newark
New Jersey
Black/African
7'1
2000/01
Allen Iverson
Shooting guard
Philadelphia 76ers (6)
Hampton
Virginia
Black/African
6'0
2001/02
Tim Duncan
Power forward
San Antonio Spurs (2)
Saint Croix
US Virgin Islands
Black/African
6'11
2002/03
Tim Duncan (2)
Power forward
San Antonio Spurs (3)
Saint Croix
US Virgin Islands
Black/African
6'11
2003/04
Kevin Garnett
Power forward
Minnesota Timberwolves
Greenville
South Carolina
Black/African
6'11
2004/05
Steve Nash
Point guard
Phoenix Suns (2)
Johannesburg
South Africa
White/European
6'3
2005/06
Steve Nash (2)
Point guard
Phoenix Suns (3)
Johannesburg
South Africa
White/European
6'3
2006/07
Dirk Nowitzki
Power forward
Dallas Mavericks
Wurzburg/West Germany
Outside US
White/European
7'0
2007/08
Kobe Bryant
Shooting guard
Los Angeles Lakers (8)
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
Black/African
6'6
2008/09
LeBron James
Small forward
Cleveland Cavaliers
Akron
Ohio
Black/African
6'8
2009/10
LeBron James (2)
Small forward
Cleveland Cavaliers (2)
Akron
Ohio
Black/African
6'8
2010/11
Derrick Rose
Point guard
Chicago Bulls (6)
Chicago
Illinois
Black/African
6'3
2011/12
LeBron James (3)
Small forward
Miami Heat
Akron
Ohio
Black/African
6'8
2012/13
LeBron James (4)
Small forward
Miami Heat (2)
Akron
Ohio
Black/African
6'8
2013/14
Kevin Durant
Small forward
Oklahoma City Thunder
Washington
DC
Black/African
6'9
2014/15
Stephen Curry
Point guard
Golden State Warriors (2)
Akron
Ohio
Mixed
6'3
2015/16
Stephen Curry (2)
Point guard
Golden State Warriors (3)
Akron
Ohio
Mixed
6'3
2016/17
Russell Westbrook
Point guard
Oklahoma City Thunder (2)
Long Beach
California
Black/African
6'3
2017/18
James Harden
Shooting guard
Houston Rockets (4)
Los Angeles
California
Black/African
6'5
2018/19
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Power Forward
Milwaukee Bucks (4)
Athens
Greece
Black/African
6'11
2019/20
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Power Forward
Milwaukee Bucks (5)
Athens
Greece
Black/African
6'11
2020/21
Nikola Jokić
Center
Denver Nuggets
Sombor
Serbia
White/European
6'11
2021/22
Nikola Jokić
Center
Denver Nuggets (2)
Sombor
Serbia
White/European
6'11
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