Is an NBA title next for this year's scoring leader?
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant won his third straight NBA scoring title becoming the eighth player in the league to win three or more scoring titles in their career; he joins Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, George Gervin, Allen Iverson, George Mikan, Neil Johnston and Bob McAdoo. He is also the seventh player to win three straight scoring titles.
With the Thunder still alive in the playoffs, Durant is hoping to join another elite group: those scoring titleholders who won an NBA championship the same season. The last time the scoring leader’s team made it to the NBA Finals was in 2001 when Allen Iverson’s 76ers lost to the L.A. Lakers. The last time the scoring leader’s team won the NBA title was the previous year when Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers.
Only five different players have won a scoring title and championship in the same season (it has, however, happened on 11 different occasions). They are:
Player, Team, Scoring title/championship year
Joe Fulks, Philadelphia, 1947
George Mikan, Minneapolis, 1949
George Mikan, Minneapolis, 1950
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee, 1971
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1991
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1992
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1993
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1996
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1997
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1998
Shaquille O’Neal, L.A. Lakers, 2000
Here’s a few additional stats regarding players who won the NBA scoring title.
* Five scoring leaders saw their team lose in the NBA finals: Chamberlain (1964), Rick Barry (1967), Jerry West (1970), O’Neal (1995) and Iverson (2001).
* Fifty-five of the 65 scoring leaders played in the playoffs that same year.
* The ten seasons in which the scoring leader’s team did not play in the playoffs: Neil Johnston, Philadelphia (1953, 1954, 1955); Chamberlain, San Francisco (1963); Nate Archibald, Kansas City-Omaha (1973); Pete Maravich, New Orleans (1977); Adrian Dantley, Utah (1981); Bernard King, N.Y. Knicks (1985); David Robinson, San Antonio (1994); Tracy McGrady, Orlando (2004).
* The scoring titleholder’s team made it to the final four in 31 of the 65 playoffs.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp