Who did Michael Jordan lose NBA MVP to? Stats, winner and more explored

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat
Michael Jordan was a five-time NBA MVP but also came close to winning a few more of the same award in his career.

One of Michael Jordan’s most astonishing feats in the NBA was winning the Most Valuable Player of the Year award five times in his career. MJ’s greatness was one of the biggest reasons the trophy for the said award now bears his name. As impressive as this accomplishment was, many have been fiercely arguing for Jordan that he deserved more than his official tally.

“His Airness” earned the award during the 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 1998 seasons. He was into his fourth year in the NBA when he won it for the first time. The award even had more meaning, as he was also named the Defensive Player of the Year. He was the first in league history to earn that “double” in the same season.

In 1987, 1989 and 1997, the iconic Chicago Bulls guard placed second in the MVP race. He was ranked third in the same major category in 1990 and 1993. Michael Jordan had a strong case of bringing home the bacon in each of those years it went to another player.

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Years Michael Jordan lost the NBA MVP award to another player

No. 5 1990 to Magic Johnson

1990 will be remembered as the Detroit Pistons’ second of back-to-back championships in the “Bad Boys” era. When it comes to individual accolades, Magic Johnson won the MVP with Charles Barkley finishing second, while Michael Jordan came in third place.

“Junior’s” Lakers won the West with a 63-19 record, helping the legendary Showtime point guard to his third and final MVP. Barkley’s Philadelphia 76ers were second in the East to the Pistons while Jordan’s Bulls ended up third in the same conference.

Here were their regular season averages during the 1989-90 campaign:

PlayerMagic JohnsonCharles BarkleyMichael Jordan
PPG22.325.233.6
RPG6.611.56.9
APG11.53.96.3
SPG1.71.92.8
BPG0.40.60.7
MPG37.239.139.0
FG%48.060.052.6
3-PT FG%38.421.737.6
FT%89.074.984.8
Win Share16.517.319.0

No. 4 1993 to Charles Barkley

After a handful of close shaves in the MVP race, Charles Barkley finally bagged the award in 1993 in his first year with the Phoenix Suns.

“Sir Charles” re-invigorated his new team, which finished the regular season with a 62-20 mark, the best in the NBA. Michael Jordan’s Bulls ended second in the East behind Patrick Ewing’s New York Knicks.

“Chuck” won his only MVP that season followed by Houston Rockets big man Hakeem Olajuwon and then Jordan. All three were part of the 1984 NBA Draft class that took the league by storm.

Here were their regular season averages:

PlayerCharles BarkleyHakeem OlajuwonMichael Jordan
PPG25.626.132.6
RPG12.213.06.7
APG5.13.55.5
SPG1.61.82.8
BPG1.04.20.8
MPG37.639.539.3
FG%52.052.949.5
3-PT FG%30.50.035.2
FT%76.577.983.7
Win Share14.415.817.2

No. 3 1987 to Magic Johnson

Michael Jordan’s first real brush with the MVP award came during the 1986-87 season. Johnson’s Lakers tore through the league to finish with just 17 losses out of 82 games for the season.

Jordan’s Bulls came in eight in the Eastern Conference and were swept in three games by Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics in the first round. Johnson, Jordan and Bird were the top three in a race that went to the “Magic Man.”

Here are their regular season averages:

PlayerMagic JohnsonMichael JordanLarry Bird
PPG23.937.128.1
RPG6.35.29.2
APG12.24.67.6
SPG1.72.91.8
BPG0.51.50.9
MPG36.340.040.6
FG%52.248.252.5
3-PT FG%20.518.240.0
FT%84.885.791.0
Win Share15.916.915.2

No. 2 1989 to Magic Johnson

Michael Jordan was the reigning MVP leading into the 1988-89 season. Magic Johnson went out to reclaim the award and did as he set out to do. LA was again the top dog in the West with a 57-25 win-loss mark. Jordan’s Bulls, now making some noise in the East, finished sixth.

Johnson and Jordan reversed the 1988 result the following year while Karl Malone joined the picture and finished third.

Here are their regular-season averages for the 1988-89 season:

PlayerMagic JohnsonMichael JordanKarl Malone
PPG22.532.529.1
RPG7.98.010.7
APG12.88.02.7
SPG1.82.91.8
BPG0.30.80.9
MPG37.540.239.1
FG%50.953.851.9
3-PT FG%31.427.631.3
FT%91.185.076.6
Win Share16.119.815.2

No. 1 1997 to Karl Malone

“His Airness” was the MVP leading into the 1996-97 season and led the Chicago Bulls to a 69-13 mark, a year after finishing 72-10. Karl Malone’s Utah Jazz topped the West with a 64-18 card, making MJ the favorite to repeat. But, in a result that stunned many, “The Mailman” pipped Jordan for the award.

In his acceptance speech, Malone thanked Michael Jordan for letting him “borrow it for one year.” The race was so one-sided between the two that Grant Hill, the third-placer, didn’t receive one single first vote.

Here are their averages for the 1996-97 regular season:

PlayerKarl MaloneMichael JordanGrant Hill
PPG27.429.621.4
RPG9.95.99.0
APG4.54.37.3
SPG1.41.71.8
BPG0.60.50.6
MPG36.637.939.3
FG%55.048.649.6
3-PT FG%0.037.430.3
FT%75.583.371.1
Win Share16.718.314.6

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