We all know that awards in sports are subjective, which is part of what makes them fun. Of course, that means that sometimes voters get things wrong. Well, at least we think they got it wrong. To be fair, it’s not like players who win MVP are undeserving of recognition; it’s just that we think someone else was more deserving. In the spirit of that, let’s take a look at some of the NBA players who were famously snubbed for MVP honors.
Wilt Chamberlain, 1964
For what it’s worth, this is the only time that Oscar Robertson won an MVP, and it would have been a shame if he ended his career without one. He also earned it with 31.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 11 assists per game, literally a few rebounds away from averaging a triple-double.
However, Chamberlain was easily the more impressive player, dominating the paint with 36.9 points and 22.3 rebounds per game, not to mention five assists per game, which isn’t half bad for a buy guy. Of course, a couple of years later, Chamberlain would start a run of three straight MVP awards.
Shaquille O’Neal, 2001
This was one of the rare occasions that the little guy beat out a big man. Allen Iverson took home MVP honors thanks to 31.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. Iverson’s scoring stood out enough to sway the voters, not to mention the fact that he led the 76ers to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
However, the Lakers matched Philadelphia’s total of 56 wins behind Shaq’s 28.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. He also played fewer minutes than Iverson, so he was a lot more efficient in his production.
Chris Paul, 2008
Despite 11 All-Star Game selections and one All-Star Game MVP award, Paul never won a league MVP and was deprived of one in 2008. He scored 21.1 points per game and led the league with 11.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game. However, Kobe Bryant was able to win MVP honors by scaling back his scoring and becoming more of a team player.
He averaged 28.3 points and 5.4 assists per game, but voters were impressed that he helped the Lakers win 15 more games than the previous season. Somehow, that was enough to overshadow Paul’s brilliant campaign.
Kobe Bryant, 2006
Ironically, Bryant stole MVP honors from Paul for his only time winning the award two years after Steve Nash stole it from him. Nash averaged a double-double with 18.8 points and 10.5 assists per game. But Bryant should have been given the award after scoring a league-high and career-high 35.4 points per game.
That season included Bryant going off for 62 points in three quarters and then dropping 81 points in a game against Toronto. But Nash’s double-double over the whole season was enough to steal MVP from Kobe.
Michael Jordan, 1997
Let’s be honest, voters just got tired of making Jordan the league MVP. This would have been his fifth, which ended up coming a year later anyway. But having won in 1996 and 1998, winning MVP in 1997 would have given him three in a row to coincide with Chicago’s second three-peat.
With all due respect to Karl Malone, he was probably more deserving in 1998. Nevertheless, Malone earned MVP while Jordan and the Bulls evened the score by winning the NBA Finals.