Nikola Jokic has won the 2021-22 NBA MVP, making him the 13th player to win the award in back-to-back seasons. He is also the second international player to do so after Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Though it is nearly impossible to rank these players’ seasons individually due to the different eras that they played in, some MVPs do stand above the rest. This is not a ranking of the players or their seasons, just detailing their accomplishments.
Tier 1 | Multiple Back-to-Back MVPs
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar |1971-72 and 1976-77
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time points leader in NBA history. He played 20 years in the NBA, retiring with six MVPs, going back-to-back twice.
In his second year in the league, he would win his first MVP and then his second in his third. He averaged 33.1 points and 16.3 rebounds for the Milwaukee Bucks in those two seasons. The Bucks would win the NBA championship in the 1970-71 season with Abdul-Jabbar as the Finals MVP.
He would again win back-to-back MVPs in 1976 and 1977, averaging 27 points and 15.1 rebounds. Abdul-Jabbar would be on the Los Angeles Lakers at the time, not making the playoffs in 1976-77.
- LeBron James | 2009-10 and 2012-13
LeBron James won all four of his MVPs within five years. If it wasn’t for Derrick Rose winning in 2011, James could have possibly won five straight.
His first back-to-back MVPs would come during his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. James averaged 29.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game, essentially doing everything. There would be no luck reaching the NBA Finals in either of his first MVP seasons.
In 2012 and 2013, it would be a completely different story, winning the NBA Finals in both of his MVP seasons with the Miami Heat. He averaged 26.9 points, eight rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game. He would be the Finals MVP both times, joining Michael Jordan as the only players to accomplish the feat.
Tier 2 | Back-to-Back-to-Back Winners
- Larry Bird | 1984-86
Larry Bird played 13 years in the NBA, all for the Boston Celtics. In three of those seasons, he would win MVP, all consecutively.
Bird averaged 26.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in those three seasons. In those three MVP seasons, the Celtics won two Finals, the two bookends, but reached all three. Bird was the Finals MVP in each of the victories.
Bird would show why he is one of the best players in NBA history in his relatively short career. Few players have won three consecutive MVPs, and Bird would put up arguably the best individual stats while also playing in a more competitive era.
- Bill Russell | 1961-63
Bill Russell is arguably the greatest winner in American sports history. In his 13 years in the NBA, he won 11 NBA championships, eight in a row. The Boston Celtics dominated the ‘60s because of Russell.
Russell won his MVPs, averaging 17.5 points and an insane 23.7 rebounds per game. Though his points total was not as high as others, his impact as a defender and rebounder made him so special. Other defensive stats were not logged at the time, but it would likely be as astounding as his rebounding averages.
- Wilt Chamberlain | 1966-68
Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points in a season where he wouldn’t even win the MVP award. Chamberlain would still retire after a 14-year career with four MVPs, three coming consecutively.
In his three MVP seasons, Chamberlain averaged 27.3 points and 24.2 rebounds per game, leading the league in scoring once and rebounds in all three. He would win the NBA Finals in the middle year, also winning the NBA Finals MVP.
Surprising enough, Chamberlain would get his three consecutive MVPs later in his career, often losing out to Bill Russell, who won MVP when Chamberlain averaged over 50 points a game.
Tier 3 | Back-to-Back MVPs with Championships in One of the Seasons
- Michael Jordan | 1991-92
The case for Michael Jordan being the greatest basketball player of all time is strong. In his career, he won five MVPs, two of them consecutive (1991 and ‘92).
Jordan averaged 30.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in those two seasons. In both of those seasons, he would win the scoring title, along with the NBA Finals, and be the MVP in both of the Finals.
Having back-to-back MVPs, NBA Championships, and Finals MVP is an accomplishment in its own right, and maybe should have done it in three straight years if it wasn’t for Charles Barkley winning an MVP in 1993.
- Tim Duncan | 2002-03
Tim Duncan might be the least flashy of them all as NBA superstars go. However, he might be the most consistent. In his 19 years in the NBA, he won five NBA Championships and two MVPs.
In Duncan’s back-to-back MVPs, he averaged 24.4 points and 12.8 rebounds. Even though his stats aren’t as crazy as others on the list, his consistency on the defensive end and being the best player on one of the best teams in the league won him his MVPs.
He would win the 2003 NBA Finals, also being named the Finals MVP in the series.
- Stephen Curry | 2015-2016
The season before Stephen Curry won his first MVP, of two in back-to-back years, was the first time he was in the All-Star Game. Curry, arguably the best shooter in NBA history, seemingly came out of nowhere.
In his MVP seasons, Curry averaged 26.9 points and 7.2 assists while also nearly reaching the 50-40-90 mark of peak efficiency as a scorer. He would only average 23.8 points in his first MVP season, but the Golden State Warriors would win 67 games, winning the NBA Finals.
In his second season, Curry would win the scoring title, having a better individual season than his first MVP, while the Warriors went on to win 73 games, most by any NBA team.
- Moses Malone | 1982-83
Moses Malone and Chamberlain are the only players on this team to leave their team after winning an MVP. Chamberlain would leave the Philadelphia 76ers for the Lakers after his final MVP in his three consecutive. In contrast, Malone would leave the Houston Rockets after winning his first MVP, then win his second consecutive for the 76ers.
In those seasons, Malone averaged 27.8 points and 15 rebounds, winning the rebounding title in each. He would win the NBA Finals in his second MVP season and be the MVP of the series.
Tier 4 | Back to Back MVPs with Championships in other seasons
- Magic Johnson | 1989-90
Magic Johnson won his three MVPs in four years, with Jordan winning one between his first MVP award and his two consecutive. Even though Johnson would not win the NBA Finals in his back-to-back MVP seasons, he would reach the 1989 Finals, losing to the Detroit Pistons.
Johnson averaged 22.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 12.1 assists, losing the assists title to John Stockton in both seasons.
Magic would take the Los Angeles Lakers to back-to-back NBA Championships in 1987 and 1988, winning an MVP during the 1986-87 season. He would be off by just a season in winning one title within his back-to-back MVP run.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, 2019-20
In the modern NBA, few players can physically dominate as Giannis Antetokounmpo can. The Greek Freak would turn himself into the player he is now, and at 27 in his eighth year in the league, he is only getting better.
In his two MVP seasons, he averaged 28.5 points, 13 rebounds, and 5.8 assists while also winning a Defensive Player of the Year award in the second of his back-to-back.
Antetokounmpo would not win an NBA Finals in his two MVP seasons, but the season right after would be when it would finally happen. The Milwaukee Bucks won the 2021 NBA Finals, with Antetokounmpo as the Finals MVP, scoring 50 points in a closeout Game 6.
Tier 5 | Back to Back MVPs without Championships
- Steve Nash | 2005-06
The season before Steve Nash won his first MVP, he was not an All-Star and was playing on a different team. His career had been okay, but when he got back to the Phoenix Suns for the second time, a light switch would turn on.
He averaged 17.2 points and 11 assists in his two MVP seasons while leading the NBA in assists in both. His stats would not be excellent, making his MVP seasons come under question. However, in those two seasons, the Suns had the best record and then the third-best record in the NBA.
Nash was the best player on one of the best teams in the league.
- Nikola Jokic | 2021-22
No matter what people say, Nikola Jokic has been deserving of both of his MVPs.Tthough he has not had the playoff success, you would want an MVP to have, he is not to blame.
In his two MVP seasons, he has averaged 26.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 8.1 assists as a center. In his second MVP win, Jokic was in the top 10 in points, rebounds, and assists per game, going everything.
A big reason for his lack of playoff success goes to his team’s injuries over the last two years, pretty much playing his entire second MVP season without his next to best teammates.
This season, Jokic’s second MVP is the one most people are mad about because the Denver Nuggets were the sixth seed. However, if the Nuggets did not have Jokic on the roster, they would be much worse, with Jokic having a +16 difference in his on-off stats.
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