Thursday, June 4, 2009


Everything can be explained with a curse these days, so here's the first in a "However-Many-I-Decide-To-Do" Series, of current (real or imagined) sports curses. Check back for more over the coming days and weeks as time permits.

LeBron got bounced from the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday and it got me thinking, shouldn't the team with the best player and coach be in the NBA Finals? Absolutely they should, but that's a different article for another time/probably has already been written about on countless Cleveland, Orlando, Los Angeles, et. al. blogs around the 'sphere. Anyway I was sitting with my Pops on Monday and I started to run down the list of recent NBA MVP's who failed to win the Finals. Lebron in '09, Kobe in '08, Dirk in '07, Nash in '05 and '06. So we're 0-fer the last 5 at least.

Pops said the last was probably Duncan, but I thought it was Shaq. Note to self, Pops is usually right. Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs was the last NBA MVP to win the NBA Finals back in 2003, Shaq was a close second having done it in 2000. So I decided to do some research, the quick numbers.

In The Last....

5 Years: The NBA MVP has not won the Finals and only Kobe last year was a losing participant in the series.

10 Years: Only 2 of the NBA MVPs have gone on to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Of the 10 winners only 4 have even been in the finals. That's a 20% chance of the MVP winning and a 40% chance of being in the Finals.

25 Years: 9 NBA MVPs have become World Champions and 14 have made it to the Finals. The list of MVPs to win is:

2003 - Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs
2000 - Shaquille O'Neal - LA Lakers
1998 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls
1996 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls
1994 - Hakeem Olajuwon - Houston Rockets
1992 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls
1991 - Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls
1987 - Magic Johnson - LA Lakers
1986 - Larry Bird - Boston Celtics

The 5 MVPs to make it to the finals but fall were:

2001 - Allen Iverson - Philadelphia 76ers (lost to LA)
1997 - Karl Malone - Utah Jazz (lost to Chicago)
1993 - Charles Barkley - Phoenix Suns (lost to Chicago)
1989 - Magic Johnson - LA Lakers (lost to Detroit)
1985 - Larry Bird - Boston Celtics (lost to LA)

It's interesting to note that Jordan is the only one in the last 25 years with multiple Finals appearances as the MVP never to lose in the Finals, but he was the MVP in 1988 when Chicago failed to reach the Finals, and yes there is a bit of homerism in bringing up that unnecessary statistic.

In The First....

5 Years: The NBA MVP was in the Finals twice (Bob Cousy in '57 and Bill Russell in '58). Cousy was the only won to win the MVP and the NBA Finals.

10 Years: The NBA MVP was in the Finals 6 Times (Cousy - '57, Russell in '58, '61, '62, '63, and '65) and won 5 of the 6 times (Russell in '58 was the only loss).

25 Years: There were 11 times that the NBA MVP was in the Finals and 9 times he came away victorious. Those 9 were:

1957 - Bob Cousy - Boston Celtics
1961 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics
1962 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics
1963 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics
1965 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics
1967 - Wilt Chamberlain - Philadelphia 76ers
1970 - Willis Reed - New York Knicks
1971 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Milwaukee Bucks
1980 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - LA Lakers

The 2 NBA MVPs to make it to the Finals and lose were:

1958 - Bill Russell - Boston Celtics (lost to St. Louis)
1974 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Milwaukee Bucks (lost to Baltimore)

    Of the remaining 4 MVPs not listed above, only two went to the Finals won. They were:

    1983 - Moses Malone - Philadelphia 76ers
    1984 - Larry Bird - Boston Celtics

    More Stats:
    Of the 54 MVP Trophies to be handed out, 37 of them belong to 11 players, they are:

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 6
    Michael Jordan - 5
    Bill Russell - 5
    Wilt Chamberlain - 5
    Larry Bird - 3
    Magic Johnson - 3
    Moses Malone - 3
    Tim Duncan - 2
    Karl Malone - 2
    Bob Petit - 2
    Steve Nash - 2

    Only 3 players have won 3 in a row (Russell - '61-'63, Chamberlain - '66-'68, and Bird - '84-'86) and only 6 players have won 2 in a row (Kareem - '71-'72 and '76-'77, Moses - '82-'83, Magic - '89-'90, Jordan - '91-'92, Duncan '02-'03, and Nash '05-'06) with Kareem being the only player in NBA History to win 2 in a row, twice.

    From 1982-1992 (11 seasons) the Trophy was shared between 4 multiple winners (Moses Malone, Bird, Magic, and Jordan.

    So relax, Lebron, take a few days to recover from your dental surgery, ignore the ringing phone, you'll most likely get another shot at the Finals and you can make it to the list of other greats who have won the MVP, won the Finals, and failed to make it in separate seasons. They are:

    Wilt Chamberlain (missed Finals in '66 and '68 as MVP, won Finals in '67 as MVP)
    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (won Finals in '71 and '80 as MVP, missed Finals in '72, '76, and '77 as MVP)
    Moses Malone (missed Finals in '79 and '82 as MVP, won Finals in '83 as MVP)
    Magic Johnson (won Finals in '87 as MVP, missed Finals in '90 as MVP)
    Michael Jordan (missed Finals in '88 as MVP, won Finals in '91, '92, '96, and '98 as MVP)
    Tim Duncan (missed Finals in '02 as MVP, won Finals in '03 as MVP)