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NBA MVP Award: LeBron James, Michael Jordan and the 10 Back-to-Back MVP Winners

Vin GetzCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2016

NBA MVP Award: LeBron James, Michael Jordan and the 10 Back-to-Back MVP Winners

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    In 2011, Derrick Rose, at the age of 22, became the youngest Most Valuable Player in NBA history.  He has a chance now to become the youngest back-to-back MVP winner, too.

    And he's working it.

    On Christmas Day in the season opener, Rose floated the game-winner against Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers with 4.8 seconds left on the clock—after rallying from 11 points down, late.

    Since then, Rose, with a little help from his friends Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng, has led the Chicago Bulls to a 7-2 record, leading the team in scoring for five of those seven wins. In both losses, Rose was contained.

    It brings up the MVP questions: Where would the Bulls be without Rose?

    If he and the Bulls keep it up, will it be enough for Rose to win MVP again?

    As of the first few weeks of the season, it looks like there are a small handful of players in the running (Kevin Durant? Blake Griffin? Chris Paul? Carmelo Anthony?) but primarily one person standing in his way—one big person.

    LeBron James is going off, and so are the Miami Heat (who are now 8-1 with no signs of slowing down).

    But if Rose can stave off James and any other competition for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, he will join this list.  These are the 10 NBAers who have won back-to-back MVPs.

    They're all Hall of Famers, of course (or will be).  Will Rose be one too?  It's early.  Very early.  That's a topic for another slideshow some years into the future.

    But if Rose maintains this pace, back-to-back MVPs or no back-to-back MVPs, he's on his way.  A championship or two would certainly help either case.

Bill Russell, Boston Celtics (1961-1963)

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    The NBA began awarding an MVP in 1956. Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks won the first.

    A few years later, dominant Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell would win three in a row (1961 through 1963).

    The Celtics won the Finals those years, with Russell averaging 1,300+ points and 1,800+ rebounds over the period.

    Russell played 13 years for the Celtics, and won 11 Finals, most in NBA history.

Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers (1966, 1967)

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    In 1965-66, Wilt Chamberlain led the league in pretty much everything a center can lead in: field goals, field goal percentage, points and rebounds.

    Blocks were not recorded then, but it's a good bet the seven-footer was amongst the leaders in that category too, if not the top of the heap.

    Then, in 1967, Wilt led the Philadelphia 76ers to their greatest season (68-13) and their first championship.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers (1976, 1977)

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    A decade later, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would go for back-to-back MVPs—two of his all-time leading six.

    In 1975-76, Abdul-Jabbar joined the L.A. Lakers and led the league in minutes, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, blocked shots and had over 2,200 points to boot.  The Lakers didn't make the postseason that year.

    But in 1976-77, they did, making it to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the eventual champions, the Portland Trail Blazers.  Kareem had a similar statistical season.

    But it wasn't until another back-to-back MVP joined the team in 1979 that the rings would flow.  More on him coming up.

Moses Malone, Houston Rockets & Philadelphia 76ers (1982, 1983)

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    Moses Malone is the only player to win back-to-back MVPs for two different teams.

    In 1981-82, Malone had arguably his best season, scoring a career high 2,500+ points.  He led the league in rebounds—and offensive rebounds, too.  But the Houston Rockets were bounced from the postseason by the Seattle SuperSonics in the First Round.

    Redemption, and another MVP award, came in 1982-83 with the Philadelphia 76ers.  The Sixers won it all in 1983 with Malone leading the way. He led the league in rebounding and poured in over 1,900 points.

    In the playoffs that year, Malone was the king of the boards and also averaged 26 points per game.

Larry Bird, Boston Celtics (1984-1986)

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    The Hick from French Lick has three MVPs in a row.  He and fellow Celtic Bill Russell are the only players to threepeat the award.

    The Boston Celtics went to the Finals all three years Bird was honored, winning two of them.

    Bird did it all from everywhere all the time (well, except dunking), draining it from underneath the basket, mid-range, behind the arc and the foul line, at high percentages, too. 

    He added an average of 500 assists and 800 rebounds each of those years to cement his candidacy.

Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers (1989, 1990)

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    Magic Johnson also has three MVPs: One in 1987, when the L.A. Lakers won 65 games and the championship, and then a twofer in 1989 and 1990.

    During the back-to-back years, Johnson averaged about 1,700 points and 950 assists.  Throw in a bunch of rebounds and three-pointers (100+ in 1990), and you have a prescription for the best player in the league.

    Magic made everyone around him, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, better.

Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls (1991, 1992)

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    M.J. had five MVPs all together.

    His back-to-back awards were on the heels of Magic Johnson's double.

    In 1991 and 1992, the Chicago Bulls' dynasty began, too, and Jordan took home both NBA Finals MVPs as well (two of his all-time best six).

    Jordan expressed complete domination of the league for over a decade.  His numbers, awards and leaderships are so ridiculous, he probably should have won more than five awards.

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (2002, 2003)

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    It would be another 10 years and a new century before the NBA would see its next back-to-back MVP: Tim Duncan.

    2002 was simply the best year of Duncan's career, when he scored over 2,000 points for the only time, led the league in rebounds, had over 200 blocks, and added more than 300 assists.  He led the San Antonio Spurs to 58 wins and first place for the second year in a row.

    But 2003 was better: Duncan took home his second MVP, and his second of eventually four titles (the first was back in 1999 with David Robinson).

Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns (2005, 2006)

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    Steve Nash, a 22-year-old rookie in 1996-97, was always pretty good.  But it wasn't until 2004-05, at the age of 30, and under new coach Mike D'Antoni, that Nash went off.

    So did the Phoenix Suns.  They went from sixth place in 2003-04, to first for the next three years. And to the Western Conference Finals for the next two.

    Nash would have over 800 assists those years, many more than he had ever had.

    Statistically, though, he is the meekest back-to-backer on the list.  But in the true sense of "Most Valuable Player" to one's team, Nash took home the hardware in 2005 and 2006.

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (2009, 2010)

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    LeBron James is the third player to go back-to-back in the decade.

    He's arguably the best and most complete player in the league right now and for the past five years.  The Heat are hot, too, the favorites to come out of the East. 

    If this keeps up, not only will James derail Rose's bid for a second MVP, but possibly he'll go back-to-back again over the next couple of years.

    Before Rose won it last season, that's what James did.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers were nothing without James (and Mike Brown, by the way).  When LeBron hit his stride in 2005-06, his third year, the Cavs hit the playoffs for the first time in seven years.  They'd be there for the next five.

    When the back-to-back MVP split for Miami, the Cavaliers won 19 games.


    Follow me at and Twitter @VinGetz.

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