Since ancient times, the number 3 has been an inflection point that changes the flow of a story. Particularly in the NBA, achievements achieved three times in a row tend to be rated much higher than doing the same thing twice in a row. The three-fits of Boston, Chicago, and Lakers, and the respect sent to the players who have won the regular season MVP for three consecutive years are proof of that. This time, let’s find out who has been the MVP for three consecutive years, and who, like Nicola Jokic, has stood on the threshold and unfortunately died.
*This article was published in the February issue of Rookie.
There are 35 players who have at least one regular season MVP trophy. 20 of them have only one trophy, which was recently renamed the ‘Michael Jordan Trophy’, and the remaining 15 players have been selected as regular season MVPs at least twice. Coincidentally, out of these 20 players, 13 players, excluding Bob Pettit and Karl Malone, were crowned MVP for two consecutive seasons and succeeded in repeating. But three-fits have been allowed to only three legends in NBA history.
Bill Russell: The first player on the 1961-1963
NBA stage to establish the golden pagoda of three consecutive regular season MVPs is Boston’s eternal franchise star Bill Russell, who died in the summer of 2022 at the age of 88.
In the 1957-1958 season, three years after winning his first regular season MVP trophy, in 1961, Russell averaged 16.9 points and 23.9 rebounds to become the regular season MVP again, averaging 18.9 points and 23.6 rebounds. Rebound, 1962-1963 season average 16.8 points and 23.6 rebounds unchanging performance, monopolizing the regular season MVP for three consecutive years.
In the 1963-1964 season, Russell averaged 24.7 rebounds per game, which was his career high, and dominated the bottom of the net as usual, but failed to win the MVP award behind Oscar Robertson, who averaged 31.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 11.0 assists. And in the following 1964-1965 season, Russell proved his class once again with an average of 14.1 points and 24.1 rebounds, and soothed his disappointment by holding his 5th MVP trophy in his arms. An unprecedented 5 consecutive regular season MVP awards could have been made.
One peculiarity is that of the five seasons in which Russell was named regular season MVP, he was named to the All-NBA First Team only once, in the 1962-1963 season. It was once to Bob Pettit, who made the first page of MVP history in the 1956 NBA regular season, and three times to Wilt Chamberlain, the scoring machine who dominated the early NBA with Russell. So, what was the driving force behind a player who stayed on the All-NBA Second Team and became the regular season MVP over other contenders? The secret lies in the team’s performance.
The regular season MVP is not an award given just because a player performed well throughout the season. If the team’s performance is not supported in the past or present, any player will inevitably be far from being an MVP candidate. So, how often he translates his game influence into his team’s victory is also one of the important factors when determining the MVP award.
From the late 1950s to the 1960s, when Russell was the center of the team, Boston was close to unbeatable. From the 1956-1957 season, the first season Russell joined, to the 1964-1965 season, when Russell won his last regular season MVP trophy, Boston ranked first in the East Division for nine consecutive seasons, except for the 1957-1958 season. In the 8th season, he won the final championship. In other words, Russell, who was evaluated as the most influential in Boston, the best team in the league, continued to win the honor of MVP, the best player in the league.
Russell was the type of player who showed more presence on defense than on offense.
His height, which was 6 feet 10 inches (approximately 208 cm), was not strong enough to overwhelm everyone in the league as a whole, but based on his long wingspan of 224 cm and athletic ability, he erased opponent strikers from the bottom of the goal without a trace. did.
In particular, even though the official record was not tallied, it is said that the block shot ability was quite outstanding. If the NBA had recognized the block shot as an official record since Russell was active as a player, Russell’s name would have definitely been at the top of the career block shot rankings.
Russell’s career is splendid enough even without five regular season MVPs.
12 All-Stars, 11 All-NBA Teams, and 4 Rebounds Champions are great, but 11 career victories is a brilliant light from a distance that no one seems to be able to reach in today’s competitive NBA trend. is paying Following Russell’s death, the NBA’s office honored Russell’s career as one of the greatest winners in league history by making the decision to permanently remove his number 6 uniform throughout the league.
Wilt Chamberlain: 1966-1968
If Russell dominated the league with defense, the player who commanded the league with offense at his extreme was the second player in NBA history to win three consecutive MVP awards. It is the saddest Wilt Chamberlain who ranks second in scoring. 스포츠토토
In the 1959-1960 season, when he first entered the NBA, he averaged 37.6 points and 27.0 rebounds, winning the Rookie of the Year trophy and his first regular season MVP trophy at the same time. Chamberlain, who had to wait, averaged 33.5 points and 24.6 rebounds in the 1965-1966 season, averaged 24.1 points and 24.2 rebounds in the 1966-1967 season, and averaged 24.3 points and 23.8 rebounds in the 1967-1968 season, winning three regular season MVP trophies in a row. solved the han
Even in the early 1960s, when there was no relationship with the regular season MVP, Chamberlain was the undisputed number one in scoring. He won the scoring title for 7 consecutive seasons from the 1959-1960 season when he debuted in the NBA to the 1965-1966 season when Boston completed the feat of winning 8 consecutive championships. In the 1961-1962 season, the average score reached 50.4 points.
Perhaps that’s why Chamberlain is still ranked at the top of the NBA’s all-time rankings related to scoring.
He is the second highest scoring average player in history (30.07) behind Michael Jordan (30.12) and ranks seventh on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 31,419 career points. Of the players ranked 1 through 10 in their division, Chamberlain played the fewest games, at 1,045, but if he maintained his career scoring average and played just 100 more games, he would have scored about 2,200 points more than Chamberlain to rank fourth in the NBA. He would have even passed Bryant’s seat.
He was overshadowed by his scoring ability, but his rebounding ability was also unmatched. Based on his height of 216cm, Chamberlain, who dominated the bottom of the goal and easily collected rebounds in each game, took the rebound crown 11 times and recorded a total of 23,924 rebounds, making a page in history as the player who grabbed the most rebounds in NBA history. are doing The gap with second place Bill Russell (21,620) is also quite large.
In this way, Chamberlain could overwhelm Russell in scoring and rebounding, but he was always frustrated in front of Russell at the threshold of the championship, and had to live with the dishonorable tag of ‘Loser’ until he lifted the championship trophy for the first time in 1967. However, if you think about it the other way around, it was possible because it was Chamberlain that put the brakes on Boston’s record of winning 10 consecutive championships in 11 years from 1959 to 1969.
The rivalry between Russell and Chamberlain, who shared the same position as the center but played 180 degrees differently, heated up the court in the 1960s. The rivalry between the two players, who were close off the court but did their best at any cost to win the team on the court, upgraded the NBA at the time.
Larry Bird: 1984-1986
The successor to the lineage of three consecutive MVPs, who had not come out for a while since Russell and Chamberlain, appeared in the early 1980s. Although his position and playstyle were different from the previous two players, he was versatile and deadly like the two legends. It is Larry Bird, who wore only a Boston uniform throughout his 13-season career and roamed the court.
Bird, who was named MVP of the regular season by averaging 24.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists in the 1983-1984 season, averaged 28.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists in the 1984-1985 season, and averaged 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists in the 1985-1986 season. Edo held the MVP trophy in his arms and stood shoulder to shoulder with Russell and Chamberlain.
It was an award that fit the description that ‘the regular season MVP trophy goes to the best player on the best team in the league’. Boston advanced to the Finals with the highest win rate in the league in all three seasons in which Byrd was named regular season MVP, and won championships in 1984 and 1986. The final MVP, who made the biggest contribution to the team’s victory in the finals, also belonged to Bird.
Bird, who was a 12-time All-Star and 9-time All-NBA First Team selection, was a tall shooter type forward that was not common in the league until then. He even had great shooting accuracy. Bird joined the so-called ‘180 Club’, which records a 50% field goal success rate, 40% 3-point shot success rate, and 90% free throw success rate in one season, in the 1986-1987 season and 1987-1988 season, and has become an outstanding shooter. proved himself to be
Even Bird was an all-rounder involved in all aspects of the team’s offense, not only scoring but also rebounding and assisting.
Bird averaged 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists simultaneously in five seasons of his 13-season career, which is second all-time in the category behind Kevin Garnett (six). Bird also completed 59 career triple-doubles, ranking ninth all-time in the category. Boston showed its eternal admiration for Bird, the best franchise star since Russell, by giving up the number 33 uniform in 1993, right after he retired.
Extra Story: Frustrated People at the Threshold
Let’s take a quick look at who were the last players who succeeded in winning the 2nd consecutive award but unfortunately failed to win the 3rd consecutive award.
The first player to be introduced is Kareem Abdul-Jabba. In 1971, 1972, and 1974 at Milwaukee, and at Lakers in 1976, 1977, and 1980, he was named regular season MVP, and Abdul-Jabbajiman, who has the most regular season MVP trophies in NBA history with six regular season MVP trophies, won three consecutive awards and did not make a connection.
He won the award twice in a row, 3 times in 4 years from 1971 to 1974, and 6 times in 10 years from 1971 to 1980, dominating the league at the time, but Dave Cowens in 1973, 1975 Bob McAdoo in 1978 and Bill Walton in 1978 were not able to complete the golden pagoda of three consecutive MVP awards.
Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, the NBA’s greatest rivals in the 1980s, stood in each other’s way. Magic, winners of 1987, 1989, and 1990, and Jordan, winners of 1988, 1991, and 1992, shared three regular season trophies amicably for six years from 1987 to 1992, but could not overcome each other and won three consecutive trophies. No awards were made.
LeBron James must have been left with a lot of regrets as he failed to win three consecutive regular season MVP awards. Lebron was named regular season MVP twice in a row with Cleveland in 2009 and 2010 and Miami in 2012 and 2013, and collected four regular season MVP trophies in five years, but in between, Derrick Rose As he took the MVP trophy, he missed not only 3 consecutive times, but also an unprecedented 5 years in a row.
In addition to these, Moses Malone, who won consecutive awards in 1982 and 1983, to the aforementioned Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, who won the regular season MVP trophy in 2002 and 2003, to Kevin Garnett, and MVP in 2005 and 2006 Steve Nash, who won the trophy in 2015 and 2016, won the trophy for Nowitzki, Stephen Curry, who won the trophy in 2015 and 2016, for Russell Westbrook, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was named MVP in 2019 and 2020, was blocked by Nikola Jokic for the third consecutive award. failed to