The coveted NBA regular season MVP award is a right of passage for any aspiring GOAT. If you don’t have one, you’re not even in the conversation. Jordan, Kareem and Russell have 5, Lebron, Wilt have 4 each. That should tell you all you need to know about the importance of the NBA’s MVP award.
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Below we have a complete list and breakdown of the NBA Regular Season MVP, split by year won, amount won, nationality and position.
NBA Regular Season MVP – by Year Won
NBA MVP & International Winners
Looking at the NBA winners by nationality can give us an interesting insight into the spread of the game outside the borders of its United States stronghold.
The first NBA regular season MVP to be won by a non American was in 1994 when Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwan took advantage of Jordan’s baseball sabbatical to claim the coveted award, and win a title to boot! This was over 40 years since Bob Petitt won the first ever NBA MVP in 1956.
Canadian Steve Nash was the next non-American winner, claiming two MVPs in 2005 & 2006. German Dirk Nowitzki joined the list in 2007. Before an 11 year gap where the NBA MVP stayed with Americans.
James Harden was the last American winner in 2018. The last 4 MVPs have been won by non-Americans. Giannis from Greece (2019 & 2020) and Nicola Jokic of Serbia (2021-22). With this major influx in international talent it could be quite some time before we see the next American winner. Quite the turn around. With Embiid, Giannis, Jolic and Doncic set to fight it out between them for years to come, it may take the regular season resurgence of either Durrant or Lebron to bring the MVP title back to an American anytime soon.
Our outside bet? If it’s going to be in the next 3 years, Antony Davis is the best placed American to win the next MVP.
Currently 59 MVPs have been won by Americans, while just 8 have been won by international players.
NBA Regular Season MVP – by Nationality
|Nationality||Number of MVP Winners|
Despite being born on the Caribbean Island of St. Croix in 1976 and not making himself eligible for the US National team, for the purposes of his nationality the NBA have always classed, 2 time MVP, Tim Duncan as a domestic player.
NBA Regular Season MVP – by Position
Despite the small ball revolution of recent years, it may not have escaped your attention that the winners of the last 4 MVP awards were both over 7 feet tall. Throw in 76ers Centre Joel Embiid and you could say that 3 of the most dominant players in the “small ball” era are Embiid, Jokic and Giannis. While Giannis is never really listed as a centre, his size and statistical profile lend itself to someone who could and often does adequately fill the centre position on both ends of the floor.
So in essence, Centres dominate the league today, just as they have done since its inception.
|Position||Number of MVP Winners|
As you can see from the table above and graph below, centres have won a massive 28 of 57 NBA MVPs titles.
NBA Regular Season MVP – by Player
Below we can see a list of who has won the most NBA Regular Season MVPs. It reads like a who’s who of the NBA. While it is unlikely that Lebron will add another Regular Season MVP to his resume and catch up with Jordan and co, it is likely that Giannis and Jokic will have the opportunity to win some more. Could one of them catch Lebron or Malone? Could they even reach or surpass Jordan, Kareem and Russell?
|NBA Player||Number of NBA MVPs|