The NBA MVP is a coveted prize that every player cherishes, and fans have seen some well-known names like Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo win it multiple times in the last decade. But sometimes giving it your all in the regular season doesn't equate to postseason success.
5 Players who lost in the NBA finals despite winning the NBA MVP award
There have been legends of the game who tantalized audiences in the regular season, deservedly winning the NBA MVP award at the end of it. However, some of them couldn't go past the final hurdle, the NBA finals, despite winning the prestigious accolade.
On that note, here are five players who lost in the NBA finals despite winning the NBA MVP award -
#5 Stephen Curry, 2016
In 2015-16, the Golden State Warriors made history as they managed to better the Chicago Bulls' 72-10 regular-season record. They won 73 games, and Stephen Curry was chosen to be the NBA MVP that season. He led the league in scoring and posted 50-40-90 splits, earning the league's first unanimous NBA MVP award.
However, the Golden State Warriors dramatically lost the NBA finals that year, losing the series in seven games after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving turned out to be the architects of the Warriors' demise, with Irving sealing the win with a clutch dagger on Stephen Curry.
#4 Kobe Bryant, 2008
After being snubbed multiple times in the mid-2000s, LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant won his first and only NBA MVP award in 2008. He pipped Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets to the trophy, etching his place in history. His individual success went hand in hand with the team's position as the LA Lakers made a deep playoff run following years of disappointment.
The Lakers ran into historic rivals the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals, setting up a fascinating encounter. Bryant was terrific in the seven-game series, leading all scorers and averaging 25.7 points per game. However, his valiant effort went in vain, as the LA Lakers succumbed to a loss in the NBA finals.
#3 Allen Iverson, 2001
Allen Iverson announced himself to the world during the 2000-01 NBA season, showcasing his exemplary dribbling and playmaking skills throughout the regular season. He averaged a stellar 26.8 points per game that year and led an above-average Philadelphia 76ers team to the NBA finals.
The 76ers squared off with a mighty LA Lakers squad featuring the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. O'Neal was also a candidate for the NBA MVP award that year and his stellar performance ensured that Iverson's team could not cross the finish line, as the Lakers comfortably won the series.
#2 Karl Malone, 1997
Utah Jazz's Karl Malone is often mentioned in the category of players who unfortunately missed out on a championship despite having a brilliant career. A two-time NBA MVP, the power forward first won the accolade in 1997, tallying 27 points and 10 rebounds for the season.
The Jazz, led by Malone and point guard John Stockton, came out of the West that season and squared off with a Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Despite the duo's brilliant showing in the series, the Bulls' star-studded team proved to be too much for the Utah Jazz, who lost the series in six games.
#1 Magic Johnson, 1989
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are credited with popularizing the NBA in the '80s, with the pair's rivalry bringing audiences to both basketball courts and in front of TVs. The 6'9 point guard won three MVP trophies in his career, the second of which came in 1989.
The LA Lakers had a strong team then, which was coached by now-Miami Heat president Pat Riley. The franchise consistently won games in the playoffs and reached the NBA finals to play Eastern Conference champions Detroit Pistons. Chuck Daly's Pistons turned out to be the better team, and Johnson had to satisfy himself with just the NBA MVP trophy that year.
Also Read: 5 biggest NBA MVP snubs of the 21st century