History of Back-to-Back NBA MVP Winners; Lakers, Celtics Lead All Teams

Getty LeBron James during a press conference.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka the “Greek Freak,” took the NBA by storm last season, winning the MVP award. He became the first player to win the award after receiving the league’s Most Improved Player award.

This season, Milwaukee’s superstar is averaging career-highs in points (30.0), rebounds (13.5), and player efficiency rating (32.2). While many thought he couldn’t get any more dangerous on the court, he added a 3-pointer to his arsenal this year. It’s still a work in progress (just 31.3% on the season), though he’s averaging a career-high 4.9 attempts per game as he keeps defenders honest from behind the arc.

Giannis Likely to Win MVP Again, per  Oddsmakers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo -390
LeBron James +700
Luka Doncic +700
James Harden +1100
Anthony Davis +2300
Damian Lillard +3200
Kawhi Leonard +5000
Nikola Jokic +6000
Joel Embiid +9500
Odds per FanDuel

History of Back-To-Back NBA MVPs

Only 11 players in NBA history have taken home the MVP in back-to-back seasons. Let’s examine the past winners:

Bill Russell, Boston Celtics

  • Bill Russell won the award three straight times from the 1960-61 season through the 1962-63 campaign. He won the award five times in his career and with his first coming in the 1957-58 season.

Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers

  • Wilt Chamberlain took home the award three-straight times from 1965-1968. He is one of just three players in NBA history with a three-peat.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks/Los Angeles Lakers

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won back-to-back MVPs with the Bucks (1970-71, 1971-72) and once he made his way to the Lakers, he did it again (1975-76, 1976-77). The center was named MVP a record-setting six times in the NBA career.

Moses Malone, Houston Rockets/Philadelphia 76ers

  • Moses Malone is the only player to win back-to-back MVP awards while switching teams. He won the honor during the 1980-81 season with the Rockets before signing with Philadelphia and taking home the honor again during his debut with the Sixers in the 1982-83 campaign.

Larry Bird, Boston Celtics

  • Celtics legend Larry Bird took home the award three-straight times from 1983-1986. Those were his only three MVP awards

Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers

  • Magic Johnson claimed the MVP award three times in his career with his back-to-back performances coming during the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons. He also won the 1986-87 award.

Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

  • The GOAT won his first MVP award during the 1987-88 season. His captured back-to-back MVPs during the 1990-91, 1991-92 campaigns. He also won the 1995-96 and 1997-98 awards.

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

  • The league watched Tim Duncan win the MVP win the award twice in his career. He took home the honors during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.

Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns

  • Steve Nash led the Suns’ high-power offense for several seasons with his peak coming during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 campaigns. Nash won the MVP during both campaigns.

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers/Miami Heat

  • LeBron James joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only player to win back-to-back MVP awards with two separate teams. He took home honors in Cleveland from 2008-10 and then in Miami from 2011-13. Many believe he should have won the award in the 2010-11 season (Derrick Rose), which would have given him a record five-straight MVPs, though there are theories that some voters of the award held his move to Miami against him.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

  • The league’s only unanimous MVP, Steph Curry took home the honor during the 2015-16 campaign. He had won the honor the year prior, during the 2014-15 season.

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