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List of NBA MVPs

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.

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

1955–56Bob Pettit
1956–57 Bob Cousy
1957–58Bill Russell
1958–59Bob Pettit
1959–60Wilt Chamberlain
1960–61 Bill Russell
1961–62 Bill Russell
1962–63 Bill Russell
1963–64Oscar Robertson
1964–65 Bill Russell
1965–66Wilt Chamberlain
1966–67 Wilt Chamberlain
1967–68Wilt Chamberlain
1968–69Wes Unseld
1969–70 Willis Reed
1970–71 Lew Alcindor
1971–72Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
1972–73Dave Cowens
1973–74Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
1974–75Bob McAdoo
1975–76Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
1976–77Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
1977–78Bill Walton
1978–79Moses Malone
1979–80 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
1980–81Julius Erving
1981–82Moses Malone
1982–83 Moses Malone
1983–84 Larry Bird
1984–85Larry Bird
1985–86 Larry Bird
1986–87 Magic Johnson
1987–88Michael Jordan
1988–89Magic Johnson
1989–90Magic Johnson
1990–91 Michael Jordan
1991–92 Michael Jordan
1992–93Charles Barkley
1993–94 Hakeem Olajuwon
1994–95David Robinson
1995–96 Michael Jordan
1996–97Karl Malone
1997–98 Michael Jordan
1998–99Karl Malone
1999–00 Shaquille O’Neal
2000–01Allen Iverson
2001–02Tim Duncan
2002–03 Tim Duncan
2003–04Kevin Garnett
2004–05Steve Nash
2005–06Steve Nash
2006–07Dirk Nowitzki
2007–08Kobe Bryant
2008–09LeBron James
2009–10LeBron James
2010–11Derrick Rose
2011–12 LeBron James
2012–13 LeBron James
2013–14Kevin Durant
2014–15 Stephen Curry
2015–16Stephen Curry
2016–17Russell Westbrook
2017–18James Harden
2018–19Giannis Antetokounmpo
2019–20Giannis Antetokounmpo
2020–21Nikola Jokić
2021–22Nikola Jokić

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

NationalityNumber of MVP Winners
United States59
Total International8

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.

PositionNumber of MVP Winners
Power forward12
Point guard11
Small forward8
Shooting guard8

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 PlayerNumber of NBA MVPs
Bill Russell5
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar5
Michael Jordan5
Wilt Chamberlain4
LeBron James4
Moses Malone3
Larry Bird3
Magic Johnson3
Bob Pettit2
Karl Malone2
Tim Duncan2
Steve Nash2
Stephen Curry2
Giannis Antetokounmpo2
Nikola Jokić2
Bob Cousy1
Oscar Robertson1
Wes Unseld1
Willis Reed1
Lew Alcindor1
Dave Cowens1
Bob McAdoo1
Bill Walton1
Julius Erving1
Charles Barkley1
Hakeem Olajuwon1
David Robinson1
Shaquille O’Neal1
Allen Iverson1
Kevin Garnett1
Dirk Nowitzki1
Kobe Bryant1
Derrick Rose1
Kevin Durant1
Russell Westbrook1
James Harden1