How many Europeans have been MVPs in NBA history?
The list of players who came from Europe and won the prestigious most valuable player award of the National Basketball Association in the past.
The NBA's Most Valuable Player award is one of the greatest honors any basketball player could get. Only a shortlist of players have won such an award throughout history, let alone win it multiple times.
On that shortlist, there is even a smaller and more exclusive group of players: the ones that won the prestigious MVP award and came from the European continent to play at the NBA.
Making it to the league as a foreign player is an achievement, but becoming the NBA's MVP should be twice as valuable for them and the countries they are representing.
Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07) Dallas Mavericks
Coming from Germany, Dirk Nowitzki was pretty unfairly overlooked when he first made it to the league. The Milwaukee Bucks traded his draft rights after taking him with the 9th overall pick.
Dirk was a bit of an up-and-comer, but once he earned the rights as the Dallas Mavericks' first scoring option, he grew up to become arguably the best foreign player ever to set foot in the NBA, becoming the league's league all-time 6th leading scorer.
Nowitzki's MVP campaign was during the 2006-07 campaign when he averaged 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game on 50/41/90 shooting, but it wasn't until 2011 when he'd win his first - and only - NBA Championship ring.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (2018-19) Milwaukee Bucks
Born in Greece to Nigerian fathers, Antetokounmpo began playing basketball for the youth teams of Filathlitikos in Athens. In 2011, he began playing for the club's senior squad before entering the 2013 NBA draft, where he was selected 15th overall by the Bucks.
Giannis made it to the league as an unknown tweener player prospect, and people were publicly mocking the Milwaukee Bucks for drafting him from a high position in the draft. His freakish athleticism and restless work ethic have proved them right.
In 2016–17 he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories. He became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in all five statistics of total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
Antetokounmpo won back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player Awards in 2019 and 2020. Along with his MVP award, he was also named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, becoming only the third player to win both awards in the same season.
Nikola Jokic (2020-2021) Denver Nuggets
The latest European NBA Most Valuable player started his junior career playing for Vojvodina Srbijagas. After being scouted by one famous basketball player agency, he moved to Mega Vizura, where he played the final of the Euro League qualification tournament. On the same occasion, he was selected for the first team.
Nicknamed "the Joker," Jokić was selected by the Nuggets in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft. He was voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2016. In the 2018–19 NBA season, while leading the Nuggets to the Western Conference Semifinals, he received his first All-Star and All-NBA First Team selections. In the following season, he received All-Star and All-NBA honors while leading his team to the Western Conference Finals. Jokić ranks among the top 10 on the all-time list of the NBA players with the most triple-doubles, where he is the leading European player, and he holds the record for fastest triple-double (achieved in 14 minutes and 33 seconds). He also won an Olympic silver medal at the 2016 Rio Games with the Serbian national team.
For his regular 2020/2021 season performance (averaging 26.4pts, 10.8rbd, 8.3ass), Jokić won the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award. He is the first center to win since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000 and the first player for the Denver Nuggets. He is the first Serbian or Eastern European player to win the award, also the first player ever selected in the second round of the draft to win an MVP award.
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