Jordan in 2014
Bill Russell (left) won the award five times in his NBA career. Wilt Chamberlain (center) won the award four times in his career.
Jordan in 1992
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the award a record-setting six times in his career.
Jordan in training with the Scottsdale Scorpions in 1994
Michael Jordan won the award five times in his career.
Jordan with coach Phil Jackson in 1997
Hakeem Olajuwon (right) is one of three players to win the NBA MVP and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in the same season.
Plaque at the United Center that chronicles Jordan's career achievements
LeBron James is a four-time NBA MVP.
Jordan as a member of the Washington Wizards, April 14, 2003
Tim Duncan, of the San Antonio Spurs, won back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards in the '01-02 and '02-03 seasons.
Jordan on the "Dream Team" in 1992
Derrick Rose became the youngest player to ever win the award at age 22.
Jordan dunking the ball, 1987–88
Stephen Curry won back-to-back MVP awards and was the first unanimous winner in the 2015–16 season.
James Worthy, Jordan, and Dean Smith in 2007 at a North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball game honoring the 1957 and 1982 men's basketball teams
Giannis Antetokounmpo won back to back MVP awards in 2018–19 and 2019–20. He became the first player to win League MVP and the NBA Most Improved Player award.
Jordan on a golf course in 2007
Nikola Jokić won back to back MVP awards in 2020–21 and 2021–22. He became one of only two players to be selected in the second round of the NBA draft to win the award.
Jordan receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at the White House
Jordan in 2008

Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include six NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, ten NBA scoring titles (both all-time records), five NBA MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game selections, three NBA All-Star Game MVP awards, three NBA steals titles, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.

- Michael Jordan

Both Bill Russell and Michael Jordan won the award five times, while Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James won the award four times.

- NBA Most Valuable Player Award
Jordan in 2014

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Olajuwon in 2015

Hakeem Olajuwon

Nigerian-American former professional basketball player.

Nigerian-American former professional basketball player.

Olajuwon in 2015
A billboard at the University of Houston congratulating Olajuwon on being the 1994 NBA Most Valuable Player
One of only five numbers retired by the University of Houston men's basketball team, Olajuwon's No. 34 hangs in Fertitta Center.
Olajuwon (right) defending Jawann Oldham on November 25, 1986
Olajuwon signing autographs

Olajuwon was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA draft, a draft that included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton.

He became the first non-American to be an NBA All-Star and start in an NBA All-Star Game, the first non-American to win the NBA MVP, the first non-American to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and in the 1993–94 season became the first player in NBA history to win the NBA's MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP awards in the same season.

Chamberlain with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1959

Wilt Chamberlain

American professional basketball player who played as a center.

American professional basketball player who played as a center.

Chamberlain with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1959
Chamberlain grabbing a rebound during a 1960 game against the New York Knicks
Chamberlain in 1962
Chamberlain and Nate Thurmond of the San Francisco Warriors competing for a rebound in 1966
Chamberlain in 1967
Chamberlain playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1969 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics
Elmore Smith and Chamberlain fighting for a rebound in 1971
Chamberlain with the Lakers in 1972
Chamberlain statue in South Philadelphia
Chamberlain historical marker outside of Philadelphia's Overbrook High School
Chamberlain being defended by the Celtics' Bill Russell in 1966
Chamberlain doing the twist with two dancers at Smalls Paradise in Harlem, New York

Although Chamberlain suffered a long string of NBA Finals losses during his career, he had a successful career, winning two NBA championships, earning four regular-season NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, the NBA Rookie of the Year award, one NBA Finals MVP award, and one NBA All-Star Game MVP award, and he was selected to thirteen NBA All-Star Games and ten All-NBA Teams (seven First and three Second teams).

Chamberlain's 4,029 regular-season points made him the only player to break the 4,000-point barrier; the only other player to break the 3,000-point barrier is Michael Jordan, with 3,041 points in the 1986–87 NBA season.

Johnson in 2022

Magic Johnson

American former professional basketball player and former president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

American former professional basketball player and former president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Johnson in 2022
Johnson with the Lakers, c. undefined 1987
Johnson with the Lakers in 1990
Johnson, who had retired from basketball in 1991 due to HIV, was selected for the U.S. national team that won the gold medal at the Summer Olympics.
Johnson and Mayor Richard Riordan in 1995
Johnson against the Celtics in the 1987 NBA Finals
Johnson with his wife, Cookie, in 2014
Johnson giving a speech at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas on April 25, 2013.
In 2003, Johnson met with Nancy Pelosi to discuss federal assistance for those with AIDS.
Johnson's Hollywood Walk of Fame star
Johnson's number 32 jersey was retired by the Lakers in 1992.

Johnson's career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, 12 All-Star games, and 10 All-NBA First and Second Team nominations.

There they faced the Chicago Bulls, led by shooting guard Michael Jordan, a five-time scoring champion regarded as the finest player of his era.

Abdul-Jabbar in 2014

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

American former professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

American former professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Abdul-Jabbar in 2014
Alcindor with the reverse two-hand dunk against Stanford
Alcindor versus USC
Alcindor performs ceremonial net cutting at Freedom Hall in Louisville in 1969 after a 20-point win over Purdue and Rick Mount in unprecedented third-straight national title en route to seven consecutive national championships for UCLA.
Alcindor displaying the skyhook over Wes Unseld of the Baltimore Bullets. The shot was almost impossible to block.
Abdul-Jabbar lines up a free throw. He started wearing goggles in order to avoid damage to his corneas.
Abdul-Jabbar receiving a pass from Magic Johnson during the 1985 NBA Finals
Abdul-Jabbar against the Boston Celtics in the 1980s
Actor Shavar Ross and Abdul-Jabbar on the set of Diff'rent Strokes, c. 1982
Abdul-Jabbar (center) at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear with Comedy Central hosts Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart
Abdul-Jabbar at a book signing in 2007
Hillary Clinton and Abdul-Jabbar, 2012
Abdul-Jabbar surrounded by children's division players during an exhibition at Club Ferro Carril Oeste of Buenos Aires, 1993
Abdul-Jabbar (below, far right) and other former NBA players visit the New York NBA Store in January 2005

During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA Team member, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member.

ESPN named him the greatest center of all time in 2007, the greatest player in college basketball history in 2008, and the second best player in NBA history (behind Michael Jordan) in 2016.

Malone in 2011

Karl Malone

American former professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

American former professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Malone in 2011
Malone, circa 1988
Malone in 1997
Malone's statue outside the Vivint Arena
Malone with Diamond Dallas Page in 1998

He was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 14-time NBA All-Star, and an 11-time member of the All-NBA first team.

Malone averaged 29.1 points in, good for second in the NBA behind Michael Jordan, and 10.7 rebounds, which was fifth in the league.

James with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022

LeBron James

American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

James with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022
James picks up his dribble against Caron Butler of the Washington Wizards in November 2006.
James engages in his pre-game ritual of tossing crushed chalk into the air in March 2008; the routine was mostly ended after 2011.
James and DeShawn Stevenson in April 2008. The two had a short feud after Stevenson called James "overrated".
James with the Cavaliers in November 2009. He finished his first stint with the Cavaliers averaging 27.8 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
James goes in for a slam dunk as a member of the Heat, as John Wall of the Wizards looks on in March 2011.
James stands at midcourt during a dead ball on January 16, 2013. On that night, he became the youngest player in NBA history to score 20,000 career points.
James throws a pass as Gorgui Dieng defends in December 2014. Later that season, James reached several passing milestones, including becoming the Cavaliers' all-time assists leader.
James dunking in October 2016
James protects the ball from Kyrie Irving in October 2017. The two were teammates in Cleveland for three seasons.
In June 2018, James became a free agent for a second time. He signed with the Lakers.
James backing down on Bradley Beal in December 2018. After missing out the playoffs for the first time since 2005, James and Anthony Davis led the Lakers in the NBA Bubble to win their first NBA title since 2010.
James at the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.
James posterized former Cleveland teammate Kevin Love in a game against the Cavaliers on March 21, 2022.
James attempting a shot over China's Yao Ming at the 2008 Summer Olympics
James dunking in a 2012 Team USA exhibition game
James drives to the basket in March 2008. A deft finisher, he led the NBA in scoring and shooting percentage at the rim in 2013.
James defending against Joe Harris in February 2018
James with the Cavaliers in 2017. NBA analyst Brian Windhorst, who spent his career covering James, recounted: "No one has ever had as much hype as James has had to live up to, and James has delivered on every last drop."
James, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dwyane Wade tape a public service announcement in January 2014
James with California Governor Gavin Newsom on The Shop when Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act in 2019
James (center) celebrates during the Heat's 2012 championship parade

James has won four NBA championships, four NBA MVP awards, four NBA Finals MVP awards, three All-Star MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals.

After the game, play-by-play announcer Marv Albert called the performance "one of the greatest moments in postseason history" and color commentator Steve Kerr described it as "Jordan-esque".

O'Neal in 2017

Shaquille O'Neal

American former professional basketball player who is a sports analyst on the television program Inside the NBA.

American former professional basketball player who is a sports analyst on the television program Inside the NBA.

O'Neal in 2017
O'Neal playing for the Cole High School varsity basketball team in 1988–89
DIESEL DJing at the 2018 All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game
In 8 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers (1996–2004), O'Neal won three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002 and appeared in the 2004 NBA Finals.
O'Neal during Game 5 of the 2000 NBA Finals
O'Neal with Miami in 2007
O'Neal holding the championship ball when the NBA Champion Heat visited the White House
O'Neal with Phoenix teammate Steve Nash
O'Neal finished his career with the Boston Celtics.
O'Neal with the US national team at the 1994 FIBA World Championship
O'Neal's free throw shooting was regarded as one of his major weaknesses.
O'Neal in 1998
O'Neal (left) facing Big Show during the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32
O'Neal at the 2009 NBA All-Star game
O'Neal in 2011
O'Neal and the rest of the Lakers with President George W. Bush in the White House at a ceremony in early 2002 commemorating the team's 2001 NBA Championship

O'Neal's individual accolades include the 1999–2000 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award; the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award; 15 All-Star Game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards; three Finals MVP awards; two scoring titles; 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections.

He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star Game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000); the other players are Willis Reed in 1970 and Michael Jordan in 1996 and 1998.

National Basketball Association

Professional basketball league in North America.

Professional basketball league in North America.

Bill Russell defending against Wilt Chamberlain in 1966.
Michael Jordan goes to the basket for a slam dunk in 1987.
Kobe Bryant defending LeBron James in a February 2016 game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers
Bill Russell defending against Wilt Chamberlain in 1966.

Michael Jordan entered the league in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls, spurring more interest in the league.

The Most Valuable Player Award is given to the player deemed the most valuable for (his team) that season.

Bird in 2004

Larry Bird

American former professional basketball player, coach and executive in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

American former professional basketball player, coach and executive in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Bird in 2004
Bird warming up for Indiana State
Bird recorded 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in his NBA debut against the Houston Rockets on October 12, 1979.
Bird playing for the Celtics in a game against the Washington Bullets
Bird playing for the Celtics in the 1985 NBA playoffs
A Larry Bird plaque at Quincy Market, Boston

Bird was a 12-time NBA All-Star, won two NBA Finals MVP awards and received the NBA Most Valuable Player Award three consecutive times (1984–1986), making him the only forward in league history to do so.

In the summer of 1992, Bird joined Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and other NBA stars to play for the United States basketball team in that year's Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Westbrook with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022

Russell Westbrook

American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Westbrook with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022
Westbrook playing defense on USC's O. J. Mayo
Westbrook (left) looks at then-teammate Kevin Durant in the post against Boston in 2010
Westbrook in March 2011
Westbrook drives to the basket in March 2011
Westbrook goes up for a layup against Cleveland in 2015
Westbrook defending Damian Lillard in January 2016.
Westbrook with André Roberson
Westbrook shooting over Washington's John Wall
Westbrook reunited with former Thunder teammate James Harden in Houston.
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Westbrook dribbling in 2015

A member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, he is a nine-time NBA All-Star and earned the NBA Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) for the 2016–17 season.

He joined Michael Jordan as the only players with 25+ points and 10+ assists in their NBA Finals debut.