The NBA MVP award was created during the 1955-56 season. The first recipient of the award was Bob Pettit, who would win it again in the 1958-59 campaign with the St. Louis Hawks.
From the award's inception until the 1979-80 campaign, only players voted for the NBA MVP winner. Now, the media also votes for the regular-season MVP award.
5 most distinctive NBA MVP seasons in league history
In this article, we take a look at five NBA MVP award seasons that represented unique feats in the history of the league, whether it was for the number of votes, the winner's team record, or any unique aspect of the award.
Without further ado, let us start.
#5 Giannis Antetokounmpo - 2019-20 NBA season
Giannis Antetokounmpo won his second straight NBA MVP award in the 2019-20 campaign after an impressive regular season with the Milwaukee Bucks (who had the league's best record in the regular round).
Antetokounmpo averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in the 2019-20 season and was elected MVP of the league.
He also won the Defensive Player of the Year award, becoming the third player to win both trophies in the same season (Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon did it before).
Stunningly, Giannis broke Wilt Chamberlain's 1962-63 record for the highest Player Efficiency Rating in NBA history after posting 31.86.
#4 Bill Russell - 1961-62 NBA season
Bill Russell arguably holds the most unbreakable record in NBA history with his 11 championships in 13 seasons as a player (the last two came as player/coach of the Boston Celtics).
Russell also won five NBA MVP awards in his glorious career. However, his most impressive win came after the 1961-62 regular season. In that campaign, Wilt Chamberlain averaged an all-time record 50.4 points per game, and Oscar Robertson became the first player in league history to average a triple-double for an entire season.
However, Russell won the 1961-62 MVP award with averages of 19 points and 23 rebounds. He also guided the Boston Celtics to a league-best 60-20 record. Eventually, the Celtics won their fourth consecutive championship.
#3 Russell Westbrook - 2016-17 NBA season
We've just talked about Oscar Robertson becoming the first player ever to average a triple-double for an entire NBA season.
The second player to do so was Russell Westbrook. The then OKC Thunder point guard earned the NBA MVP for his performances in the 2016-17 campaign.
Westbrook averaged a league-high 31.6 points per game and added 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists to lead OKC to the NBA Playoffs.
Even though the team was the sixth seed in the West with a 47-35 record, Westbrook's season won him the MVP award.
#2 Stephen Curry - 2015-16 NBA season
Stephen Curry won the 2014-15 NBA MVP award before guiding the Golden State Warriors to their first championship in 40 years.
Curry continued his form in the 2015-16 NBA season and guided the Warriors to a record-breaking season with 73 wins and only nine losses in the regular round. He averaged 30 points, five rebounds and almost seven assists per game while having 50/45/91 shooting splits.
His efforts earned him the NBA MVP again, and he took every first-place vote available in the ballot to become the first and only unanimous MVP in league history. The 2015-16 season did not end as the Warriors expected, but Curry's regular season was untouchable.
#1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 1975-76 NBA season
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still holds the record for most NBA MVPs won in league history with six trophies. He won his first MVP award in just his second season in the NBA (1970-71) before leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their only NBA title so far and taking the first of his two Finals MVP awards.
Abdul-Jabbar's most unique MVP win came after the 1975-76 season, when he was already playing for the LA Lakers. In his first year in Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 27.7 points, 16.9 rebounds, five assists and a league-high 4.1 blocks per game, but his Lakers finished with a 40-42 record and missed the NBA Playoffs.
Still, Abdul-Jabbar won the NBA MVP award (voted by the players then) and is still the only MVP in history that came out of a team that did not enter the postseason action. It was the fourth MVP trophy of his career.