LeBron James: Why James Must Win the NBA Title This Year

Jerry Tapp@@StatsonTappSenior Analyst IIIMay 13, 2012

LeBron James
LeBron JamesMarc Serota/Getty Images

LeBron James was voted the NBA MVP for the 2011-12 season. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as the players who have won the MVP award three or more times.

Take a look at the list above. What do you notice? Each of those three-time-plus MVPs have won an NBA title, except for James. If his Miami Heat do not win the NBA title this year, James would be the only three-time MVP without an NBA title.

Twelve different players won an MVP award in the same year their team won the NBA title. Both Michael Jordan and Bill Russell did it four times. The last player to win an MVP award the year his team won the championship was in 2003, when the San Antonio Spurs won the title after Tim Duncan was voted league MVP.

Here are the 12 players who won the league MVP award in the same year their team won the NBA championship.


Player, Team, MVP/Championship Year

Bob Cousy, Boston, 1957

Bill Russell, Boston, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965

Tim Duncan
Tim DuncanSteve Dykes/Getty Images

Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, 1967

Willis Reed, N.Y. Knicks, 1970

Lew Alcindor, Milwaukee, 1971; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers, 1980

Moses Malone, Philadelphia, 1983

Larry Bird, Boston, 1984, 1986

Magic Johnson. L.A. Lakers, 1987

Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998

Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston, 1994

Shaquille O’Neal, L.A. Lakers, 2000

Tim Duncan, San Antonio, 2003


Eight times, the league MVP’s team made it to the NBA Finals but was defeated. The eight times when a league MVP’s team lost in the championship series: Bill Russell, Boston, 1958; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee, 1974; Larry Bird, Boston, 1985; Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers, 1989; Charles Barkley, Phoenix, 1993; Karl Malone, Utah, 1997; Allen Iverson, Philadelphia, 2001; Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers, 2008.

Did you know that 28 of the 56 NBA MVPs played in the NBA Finals in the year they won their MVP award? Forty-four of the 56 MVPs saw their team advance to the final four in the playoffs in the year they won the MVP.

Did you know that 55 of the 56 NBA MVPs played in the playoffs in the year they won their MVP award? The only exception was Abdul-Jabbar. He was league MVP in 1976, but his Lakers did not make the playoffs that season.

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