Only 11 NBA players managed to win back-to-back regular-season MVPs. But even in such elite company, there’s a standout. Only one player won the award in two consecutive years while playing on two different teams, and his name is Moses Malone.
The Hall of Fame center won his second overall MVP award during the 81-82 NBA season, as he led the Houston Rockets to a 46-36 record and the sixth seed in the West. Now don’t let the Rockets’ seeding mislead you – what Malone did for the season was nothing short of impressive. How does averaging 31.1 points and league-leading 14.7 rebounds sound to you? Oh, and he only missed a single regular-season game, while leading the NBA in minutes played, both cumulatively and per game-wise.
Malone also contributed to a league-leading 15.4 wins for his team. Even with such impact by a single player, the Rockets only scraped out 46 wins in a season. Let’s face it; they weren’t such a good of a team. It manifested through the post-season, where Houston was bounced by the SuperSonics in the first round. But it doesn’t make Malone’s season any less impressive. What he did over 82 games was more than worthy of an MVP award.
After his MVP campaign, Moses became a restricted free agent. What happened next is to this day one of the biggest heists the NBA has ever witnessed. Big Mo ended up in Philadelphia, via a sign-and-trade deal that got the Rockets a 32-year-old Caldwell Jones and a future first-round pick. What Houston got in return for the NBA MVP was a joke, but it ended up working out for them. The pick they’ve acquired in the deal turned out to be Ralph Sampson, which Houston paired with Hakeem Olajuwon the next summer. You know how that story goes.
As far as Philadelphia is concerned, the trio of Malone, Dr. J, and Maurice Cheeks brought them a title in their first season of playing together. They ran through the regular season with a record of 67-15, led by Big Mo’s second straight MVP worthy 82 games stretch.
“In Philly, I have players around me that I know what they can do – people like Doc and Toney. At Houston, they went to me all the time and they looked for 30-36 points from me every night. But here, I don’t have to worry about that, and it’s more relaxing for me.”Moses Malone, NBA
Having a ‘lesser role’ took a toll on Malone’s statistical output, but it got him the NBA championship. It’s a trade-off most NBA players would go for. But even then, Moses did put up great numbers. He averaged 24.5 points and once again league-leading 15.3 rebounds per contest. Big Mo also led the NBA in PER with 25.1, while once again leading the association in win shares with 15.1.
The Sixers swept the Lakers in the Finals, and Chairman of the Boards ran away with the Finals MVP award, rounding up a perfect two-year stretch, where he became an NBA champion while being the Finals MVP, and also winning back to back regular season MVPs for two different franchises. Oh, and he’s still the only one to do it. And to be honest, I don’t see anyone doing it anytime soon.