Giannis and Coach Bud lift NBA hardware
For the 14th time in NBA history, the NBA MVP and the Coach of the Year were from the same team. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Mike Budenholzer were recently selected as the league’s best player and coach.
Unfortunately for the Bucks, success in the form of a championship did not materialize. In fact, of the now 14 times that a player and coach from the same team won POY and Coach honors in a season, only four times has that player and coach hoisted a championship trophy at the end of the season.
The last time it happened was in 2003 when Tim Duncan won the league MVP and his coach, Gregg Popovich, was selected as the Coach of the Year. Their team, the San Antonio Spurs, also won the title that season.
Here’s a look at the 14 times when a team had the league MVP and Coach of the Year (also noted is how well the team did in the playoffs that season).
1965: Boston, MVP-Bill Russell, Coach-Red Auerbach (won NBA title)
1966: Philadelphia, MVP-Wilt Chamberlain, Coach-Dolph Schayes (lost in the Eastern Conference Finals)
1969: Baltimore, MVP-Wes Unseld, Coach-Gene Shue (lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals)
1970: New York Knicks, MVP-Willis Reed, Coach-Red Holzman (won NBA title)
1973: Boston, MVP-Dave Cowens, Coach-Tom Heinsohn (lost in the Eastern Conference Finals)
1990: Los Angeles Lakers, MVP-Magic Johnson, Coach-Pat Riley (lost in the Western Conference Semifinals)
1996: Chicago, MVP-Michael Jordan, Coach-Phil Jackson (won NBA title)
2001: Philadelphia, MVP-Allen Iverson, Coach-Larry Brown (lost in the NBA Finals)
2003: San Antonio, MVP-Tim Duncan, Coach-Gregg Popovich (won NBA title)
2005: Phoenix, MVP-Steve Nash, Coach-Mike D’Antoni (lost in the Western Conference Finals)
2009: Cleveland, MVP-LeBron James, Coach-Mike Brown (lost in the Eastern Conference Finals)
2011: Chicago, MVP-Derrick Rose, Coach-Tom Thibodeau (lost in the Eastern Conference Finals)
2016: Golden State, MVP-Steph Curry, Coach-Steve Kerr (lost in the NBA Finals)
2019: Milwaukee, MVP-Giannis Antetokounmpo, Coach-Mike Budenholzer (lost in the Eastern Conference Finals)
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Will having the best record in the NBA help the Greek Freak’s MVP chances?
My esteemed colleague Gery Woelfel recently penned an article where he opined that Houston Rockets guard James Harden would be selected as the 2018-19 NBA MVP at the end of the season. Gery made several solid points in his argument for Harden’s MVP candidacy including his outrageous league-leading points per game average (over 36 points per game) and his improved defensive stats. He admitted that the MVP Award race was basically a two-player race with Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In discussing his article with him, I told Gery that my only pushback on his opinion was that league MVP voters seem to have a history of voting for a player from the team that ends the season with the most wins/best record. Gery concurred and added that it would be nice if we could find out just how often that has happened in past seasons.
“If only we knew someone who could do the research and run the numbers to see how many MVPs came from teams that had the most wins in a season.”
Well, I just happen to know someone who can get us that info…
Over the past 20 NBA seasons, 12 of those 20 MVPs selected came from a team that had the most (or tied for the most) wins in that season. Ten of the 12 had the best record outright, while two MVPs played for teams that tied for the most wins that season.
Ironically, Harden was a benefactor just last season; he was voted the league MVP for 2017-18 and his Houston Rockets had the most wins last season. Here are the 12 MVPs since the 1998-99 season that played for a team that had the most wins.
2018-James Harden, Houston
2016-Steph Curry, Golden State
2015-Steph Curry, Golden State
2013-LeBron James, Miami
2011-Derrick Rose, Chicago
2010-LeBron James, Cleveland
2009-LeBron James, Cleveland
2007-Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
2005-Steve Nash, Phoenix
2003-Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2000-Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
1999-Karl Malone, Utah
Duncan in 2003 and Malone in 1999 played for teams that tied for the most wins in the league that season.
Of the eight MVPs who did not play for the team that won the most games that season, half of them (four players) played for a team that finished with the second most (or tied for the second most wins) in the league that year. Those eight:
2017-Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (10th most wins in the NBA that season
2014-Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (2nd most wins in the NBA that season)
2012-LeBron James, Miami (4th most wins in the NBA that season)
2008-Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (3rd most wins in the NBA that season)
2006-Steve Nash, Phoenix (4th most wins in the NBA that season)
2004-Kevin Garnett, Minnesota (2nd most wins in the NBA that season)
2002-Tim Duncan, San Antonio (tied for the 2nd most wins in the NBA that season)
2001-Allen Iverson, Philadelphia (tied for the 2nd most wins in the NBA that season)
So, who will the voters choose? If the Bucks end the season with the most wins in the league, is that enough to propel Giannis to the MVP?
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