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The NBA players who have finished MVP runner-up on multiple occasions

Sixteen players have finished second in MVP voting more than once. Only three of those players never won the prestigious award. Ouch.

The NBA MVP award is the best individual honour in basketball.

Fifteen have won the award multiple times - most recently Nikola Jokic - and many have finished as runner-up on more than one occasion. Thirteen different players have gone back-to-back; Jokic included.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has the most MVPs in NBA history, winning the prestigious award a gargantuan six times.
Numerous current NBA stars are yet to get their hands on the trophy.
Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards and Ja Morant all likely see themselves as a future MVP and champion. Whether they can make that dream a reality remains to be seen.

Planet Sport looks at the 16 players to claim a silver medal, not a gold one, more than once in the MVP race.

Jerry West - 4

The man on the NBA logo finished second an incredible four times and is one of three players on this list to not get their hands on the trophy.
He finished as the runner-up in 1966, '70, '71 and '72.
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Larry Bird - 4

Larry Legend has also finished as MVP runner-up four times, but at least he was named MVP in his career.
In fact, he is a three-time MVP having guided the Boston Celtics to three titles in the 1980s.
Between 1981 and 1986, Bird was either winning the award or finishing second, showing just how good he was during this era.

LeBron James - 4

One of the greatest players of all time, LeBron is one of five here to have more first-place finishes than second-place finishes.
Drafted straight out of high school in 2003, James instantly made the Cleveland Cavaliers a serious team.
He won his first MVP in 2009, three years after finishing second. Since then, he has won and finished second another three times each.

Kevin Durant - 3

The first of three players to finish runner-up thrice, Durant won his only MVP award in 2014, his last time in the top two.
Since winning his lone MVP, the 33-year-old has won two rings and is currently hoping to be traded from the Brooklyn Nets.

James Harden - 3

Harden finished second in 2015, '17 and '19 and got his hands on the award in 2018.
The guard was not afraid to make his feelings known when finishing as runner-up, creating a feud with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the process.

Michael Jordan - 3

MJ won five MVPs, and amazingly it should have been more.
Our pick for the greatest player of all time finished runner-up twice in the 1980s and once in the 1990s and took it personally every single time.

Bob McAdoo - 2

The first player on this list with two silver medals, McAdoo won his lone MVP award in 1975, sandwiched in between his 1974 and 1796 second-place finishes.

David Robinson - 2

The Admiral was named NBA MVP in 1995, a year before and after finishing second in voting.
He enjoyed great success with the San Antonio Spurs, winning two championships; his first coming in Tim Duncan's second year in Texas.

Tim Duncan - 2

Speaking of which, Duncan also finished as an MVP runner-up twice.
He, however, won the award twice and won five championships in total after Robinson passed the torch.

Joel Embiid - 2

Embiid has finished second in the last two seasons and is still waiting to get his hands on the trophy.
Drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014, Embiid is one of four on this list who is currently active in the league.
It would not be surprising to see the Cameroonian eventually named MVP and with Harden now his teammate, a championship could finally come back to Philly after 40 years.

Shaquille O'Neal - 2

Shaq surprisingly only won one MVP in his career.
He is the most dominant player in NBA history and has four rings.
The former Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers center was in the top two for MVP voting every five years between 1995 and 2005, winning the award as a Laker in 2000, the same year he won a championship, was named Finals MVP, All-Star Game MVP and scoring champion.

Kevin Garnett - 2

Another player with one MVP and two second-place finishes, Garnett won the award in 2004 as a Minnesota Timberwolve.
He wouldn't win a championship until 2008 after he left Minnesota for the Boston Celtics.

Bob Pettit - 2

Atlanta Hawks legend Pettit was their star man when they won their only championship in 1958.
In the championship-clinching game, the Hawks won by one and Pettit had 50 points and 19 rebounds. Just an incredible performance.
He was named league MVP in '56 and '59 and was runner-up in '57 and '61.

Magic Johnson - 2

Back to players with a positive win/runner-up ratio.
Magic was one of a kind as a 6'9" point guard and was the face of the NBA before he had to retire prematurely in 1991.
He was named MVP on three occasions and finished second twice, losing out to Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. There is no shame in that.

Wilt Chamberlain - 2

Wilt went one better than Johnson, winning four MVP awards.
He was an absolute freak of nature and well ahead of his time.
The only player to score 100 points in a single game, Chamberlain finished second in 1962 and 1964.

Bill Russell - 2

The man Wilt finished runner-up to in '64, Russell has more rings than anyone else in NBA history, claiming 11 during his glorious career.
A five-time MVP, Russell and the Celtics absolutely dominated the league in the '60s.
He wasn't perfect though, finishing second to Pettit in 1959 and Chamberlain in 1960, the poor sod.

George Gervin - 2

All sympathy for Russell will go out the window here.
Gervin finished second twice and unfortunately retired as a zero-time MVP.
He was runner-up two years in a row (1978, 1979), both times as a Spur.
Gervin did win All-Star Game MVP in 1980. Every cloud, eh?
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