Who Has the Most Awards in NBA History?

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From the LeBron vs. Jordan debate to the Lakers vs. Boston debate and more, sports fans love arguing about who the greatest of all time is (GOAT). And despite MJ himself calling these debates futile, there’s no stopping fans from trying to convince one another that their favorite is the best.

So, while we’re not trying to crown the GOAT here, let’s take a more quantifiable approach and look at who has the most NBA awards instead.

How Many NBA Awards Are ThereHow Many NBA Awards Are There?

There are plenty of awards given by the NBA to both players and teams. So, what NBA awards are there to win? Here are a couple of the major ones:

Individual Player Awards

While basketball is a team sport won by a collective of players, individual performers shine in their roles so much that it’s difficult not to give at least some sort of recognition for their work. So, at the end of each season and at the end of each playoff season, the NBA gives a small nod to individuals who have shown outstanding performance during the year.

  • NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award

As the most prestigious award a player can aspire to, you’d think the NBA would make the word “valuable” clearer. It’s a bit confusing a title, but the NBA MVP award is given to the player who has done the most for their team throughout an entire season. This can mean anything from leading the league in scoring, assists, and rebounds to being a defensive stopper or playing well while on a losing team. 

Kareem Abdul Jabar, for example, won the award despite being on the 9th-seed Lakers in the 1975-1976 season. The criteria are subjective and often depend on what type of player your team needs at that time.

  • NBA Rookie of the Year Award

One of the better-defined awards in the NBA is still quite difficult to boil down to brass taxes. It’s given to the best rookie in the draft class. However, that’s not necessarily the player who has the best stats. The award is given to the player who has made the most impact on the team they’re playing for, and that can be quite difficult to measure. 

The 2017-2018 Rookie of the Year Award, for example, finished with Ben Simmons on top despite Donovan Mitchell having a top 30 all-time best-scoring rookie season ever.

  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award

Defined as the player with the most defensive impact. The award has always been skewed to go toward big men who can intimidate slashing players. However, it has also been awarded to smaller players like Marcus Smart and Bruce Bowen, who can both guard bigger players.

  • NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award

An award given since the 1982-83 NBA season to the league’s best-performing player for his team coming off the bench as a substitute or sixth man.

  • NBA Most Improved Player Award

Definitely one of the easier awards to define. This typically goes to players with the most statistical improvement to their game from one year to the next. 

  • Scoring Title

While there’s no official award or ceremony, the scoring title is given to the player with the highest points per game stat during the season. It’s completely stat-based, so there’s generally no debate or argument over these awards. The scoring title, however, is one of the many measures that fans like to cite when engaged in a GOAT debate.

Major Team Awards

There are also a ton of awards that NBA teams can earn throughout the season, and they’re generally based on the win-loss statistics they accumulate.

  • Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy

The Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy is given to the team that wins the NBA Finals. It’s named after former NBA commissioner Larry O’Brien, who was instrumental in forming and growing the league over its first two decades.

  • Conference Championship (Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson Trophies)

The Eastern and Western Conference champions receive trophies named after former Celtics stars, Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson, respectively.

Who Has the Most Individual Awards in NBA HistoryWho Has the Most Individual Awards in NBA History?

There’s really no debate on who has the most awards in history. For one thing, Michael Jordan has accomplished a sweep of all the major individual NBA trophies in his 15-year career. He’s also among the few who won the DPOY and the MVP in the same season.

Michael Jordan’s career is marked by numerous individual accolades. 

  • He has won five NBA Most Valuable Player awards and ten scoring titles and was named to the All-NBA First Team 10 times. 
  • Jordan was also a 10-time NBA scoring champion and won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 1988.
  • Additionally, he was a 14-time NBA All-Star and won the All-Star Game MVP award three times.

Jordan's success on the court has cemented his legacy as the most accomplished NBA player of all time.

Who Has the Most MVP Awards in NBA HistoryWho Has the Most MVP Awards in NBA History?

As the most prestigious individual player award, the MVP race is always hotly debated. It’s all due to the constantly changing definition of being “valuable” in the NBA, especially from one era to the next.

However, how many times a player has won is not up for debate. Kareem Abdul Jabbar has won it six times over his 20-year career. Michael Jordan and Bill Russel come knocking at a close second with five MVP trophies in their names.

Who Has the Most NBA Awards by a TeamWho Has the Most NBA Awards by a Team?

Here’s a list of the most-decorated player by team:

Atlanta Hawks – Bob Pettit

  • Two-time MVP (1956, 1959)
  • Two-time scoring champion (1956, 1959)
  • Rookie of the Year (1955)
  • 10-time All-NBA First Team member (1955–1964)
  • One NBA Championship (1958)

Boston Celtics – Bill Russell

  • Five-time Regular Season MVP (1958, 1961–1963, 1965)
  • 11-time NBA Champion (1957, 1959–1966, 1968–1969)
  • Three-time All-NBA First Team selection (1959, 1963, 1965)

Chicago Bulls – Michael Jordan

  • Five MVP awards (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998)
  • Six-time Finals MVPs (1991–1993, 1996–1998)
  • Six-time NBA Championships (1991–1993, 1996–1998)
  • 10-time All-NBA First-Team Selections (1987–1993, 1996–1998)
  • Rookie of the Year (1985)
  • One-time Defensive Player of the Year (1988)
  • 10-time Scoring Champion (1987–1993, 1996–1998)

Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron James

  • NBA Championship (2016)
  • NBA Finals MVP (2016)
  • Two-time Regular Season MVP (2009, 2010)
  • Rookie of the Year (2004)
  • Eight-time All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008-2010, 2014-2018)

Dallas Mavericks – Dirk Nowitzki

  • Four-time All-NBA First Team selection (2005–2007, 2009)
  • Won NBA Finals MVP award (2011)
  • One NBA Championship (2011)
  • One-time Regular Season MVP winner (2007)

Denver Nuggets – Alex English

  • One-time scoring champion (1983)
  • Two-time All-NBA Second Team (2010, 2013), (1982, 1983, 1986)

Detroit Pistons – Isiah Thomas

  • NBA Championship (1989, 1990)
  • Finals MVP award (1989, 1990)
  • Three All-NBA First-Team selections (1984–1986)

Houston Rockets – Hakeem Olajuwon

  • Two NBA championships (1994, 1995)
  • Two NBA Finals MVP awards (1994, 1995)
  • One NBA Most Valuable Player award (1994)
  • Two-time Defensive Player of the Year (1993, 1994)
  • Six-time All-NBA First Team selection (1987–1989, 1993, 1994, 1997)

Indiana Pacers – Reggie Miller

  • Averaged 18 points per game over career
  • No major awards
  • Few All-NBA Third-Team selections

Los Angeles Clippers – Bob McAdoo

  • One NBA Most Valuable Player award (1975)
  • Three-time NBA Scoring Leader (1974–1976)
  • Rookie of the Year award (1973)
  • One All-NBA First Team selection (1975)

Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe Bryant

  • Five-time NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
  • Two-time Finals MVP (2009, 2010)
  • One Regular Season MVP (2008)
  • 11 All-NBA First Team selections (2002–2004, 2006–2013)

Memphis Grizzlies – Marc Gasol

  • Defensive Player of the Year (2013)
  • All-NBA First Team (2015)

Miami Heat – LeBron James

  • Two NBA Championships (2012, 2013)
  • Two-time NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013)
  • Two Regular Season MVPs (2012, 2013)
  • Three All-NBA First Team selections (2011, 2012, 2013)

Milwaukee Bucks – Giannis Antetokounmpo

  • One NBA Championship (2021)
  • One-time NBA Finals MVP (2021)
  • Two-time Regular Season MVP (2019, 2020)
  • One-time Defensive Player of the Year (2020)
  • Five-time First Team All-NBA selections (2019 – 2023)

Minnesota Timberwolves – Kevin Garnett

  • One Regular Season MVP (2004)
  • Three-time All-NBA First Team selections (2000, 2003, 2004)

New Orleans Pelicans – Chris Paul

  • One All-NBA First Team selection (2008)
  • Rookie of the Year (2006)

New York Knicks – Willis Reed

  • Two NBA Championships: (1970, 1973)
  • One Regular Season MVP: (1970)
  • Two Finals MVP: (1970, 1973)
  • One All-NBA First Team selection (1970)
  • Rookie of the Year (1965)

Oklahoma City Thunder – Russell Westbrook

  • One-time Regular Season MVP (2017)
  • Two-time Scoring Champion
  • Two-time All-NBA First Team selections (2016, 2017)

Orlando Magic – Shaquille O’Neal

  • Rookie of the Year (1993)
  • NBA Scoring Champion (1995)

Philadelphia 76ers – Allen Iverson

  • One Regular Season MVP (2001)
  • Three All-NBA First Team selections (1999, 2001, 2005)
  • Rookie of the Year (1997)
  • Four-time Scoring Champion (1999, 2001, 2002, 2005)

Phoenix Suns – Steve Nash

  • Two-time Regular Season MVP (2005, 2006)
  • Three All-NBA First Team selections (2005-2007)

Portland Trail Blazers – Bill Walton

  • One NBA Finals MVP (1977)
  • One NBA Finals Championship (1977)
  • One Regular Season MVP (1978)

Sacramento Kings – Oscar Robertson

  • One Regular Season MVP (1964)
  • Nine All-NBA First Team selections (1961-1969)
  • Rookie of the Year (1961)

San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan

  • Two Regular Season MVPs (2002, 2003)
  • Three Finals MVPs (1999, 2003, 2005)
  • 10 All-NBA First Team selections (1998–2005, 2007, 2013)
  • Rookie of the Year (1998)
  • Five NBA Championships: (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)

Toronto Raptors – Kawhi Leonard

  • One NBA Finals MVP (2019)
  • One NBA Championship (2019)

Utah Jazz – Karl Malone

  • Two Regular Season MVPs (1997, 1999)
  • 11 All-NBA First Team selections (1989-1999)

Washington Wizards – Wes Unseld

  • One-time NBA champion (1978)
  • One NBA Finals MVP (1978)
  • One NBA Most Valuable Player (1969)
  • One All-NBA First Team Selection (1969)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1969)

Top 5 NBA Players with the Most Awards in NBA History Top 5 NBA Players with the Most Awards in NBA History

Top 5 Most Awards in NBA History Regular Season MVP Finals MVP First Team Selections ROY DPOY Championship Rings
Michael Jordan 5 6 10 1 1 6
LeBron James 4 4 13 1 4
Kareem Abdul Jabbar 6 2 10 6
Magic Johnson  3 3 9 5
Bill Russell 5 5 11

Wrapping Things Up: Who Has the Most Awards in NBA History?

NBA awards are a way for the league to recognize players who have had an outstanding season or who are performing at a level that’s above and beyond the rest of the league. In addition to celebrating these players, awards also help build a player’s legacy and create storylines around which fans can rally.

However, it’s not the only barometer for fans in the GOAT debate. For example, Bill Russell, who has the most NBA rings in history, is generally left out of the conversation despite the fact that he has more rings than fingers. So, other than a player’s statistical performance and accolades, consider his leadership and intangibles alongside their awards to get a more comprehensive understanding of their impact on the game.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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