Who was the last NBA to win an NBA Title in the same year?
Nikola Jokic is a two time MVP winner, but just missed out the chance to make it three straight and join an elite list if he wins the NBA Title this season.
Nikola Jokic has come stateside and conquered the basketball world since he was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 2014. He has been named to All-Star Games, made All-NBA First teams and won back-to-back MVPs in the two seasons leading up to this one. He has one box that remains unchecked on his NBA to-do list, and he is four wins away from filling that box.
Jokic and Nuggets looking for first title
The Serbian may have been edged out by Joel Embiid in MVP voting despite having what I would consider his best season of any he has had in the NBA. He averaged 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists during the regular season and since not being awarded the MVP he has upped his game to a new level which has put the Nuggets on the doorstep of their first NBA Title in franchise history.
Jokic is as team oriented as you find in the NBA, especially for a superstar of his caliber, which is why the winning a ring will mean much more to him than a third MVP title. With Embiid winning the MVP award after an incredible season, Jokic will not join an elite list of players who won both the title and the MVP in the same season, and looking back on the history of the NBA gives you an idea of just how tough that can be.
The last time a player lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy and the MVP Trophy was Steph Curry in 2015 when the Golden State Warriors won their first NBA title of the Splash Brothers/Steve Kerr era. Curry averaged 23.8 points per game in the regular season and then went on to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2 in the NBA Finals.
Curry last, Cousey first to do the double
Curry put himself in the rarefied air of a group of 14 that have accomplished both feats during the same campaign. The first to ever do it was Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousey who won the NBA title and the MVP after a 20.6 ppg and 7.5 apg season. The next to do so was his teammate Bill Russell who did the double on four different occasions. He won his first MVP in 1961, a year in which the Celtics won their fourth NBA Championship in franchise history. Russell would go on to win the MVP and the NBA in three of the next four years, 1962, 1963 and 1965.
Michael Jordan is the only other player to have done the double four times. Jordan’s were a bit more spread out given his two year absence from basketball. His first came in 1991, and then he did it again the following year. His next two came after his hiatus in 1996 and 1998, just imagine how if he didn’t take that break from the hardwood to hit the diamond.
Larry Bird, LeBron James and Kareem Abdul Jabaar did it twice throughout their career. Nine players have done the double once, including Cousey and Curry. The others are Wilt Chamberlain, Willis Reed, Moses Malone, Magic Johnson Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan.
Jokic won’t have a chance to join this list this year, but something tells me he will get plenty more chances to join this exclusive club.