Can You Identify These NBA Stars Who Never Won MVP?

Gavin Thagard

Image: Wiki Commons by Keith Allison

About This Quiz

What does it take to cement a player's legacy in the NBA? Most stars will argue that it's all about championships, and the players who rack up the most titles get to lay claim to being the greatest of all time. If that were true, why is Bill Russell rarely mentioned when discussing the G.O.A.T.? He did finish his career with 11 titles, after all. 

Clearly, there is more to a player's legacy than titles. One other great indicator is the MVP award, given out each season to the best player in the game. Though they claim it's not about individual accolades, players like LeBron James wouldn't complain when they get snubbed by the likes of Derrick Rose for the award if it wasn't important. Don't worry LeBron, you still have four MVPs. 

What about the NBA stars who never won an MVP award, though? Do you know who these players are and what they accomplished on the court? Are you familiar with why they lost the award in the first place and who beat them? Can you even identify these stars from an image? Here's a quiz where you can find out.

If you're ready to test your NBA star knowledge, find out if you can get an MVP level score on this quiz. 

Can you identify this NBA legend who left the league without an MVP or a championship?

Elgin Baylor might be the greatest player to retire without an NBA championship or an MVP award despite appearing in eight NBA Finals. The most tragic part about his career is that the Lakers won the title the same year that he retired.

This NBA star is so iconic he was used as the NBA logo despite not having an MVP. Who is he?

With more accolades than you can count, Jerry West carved out a place for himself in the annals of basketball history. However, the former NBA champion has been just as instrumental off the court, helping several franchises become playoff contenders as an executive.

Once the floor general for the "Bad Boy" Pistons who led them to two NBA titles, who is this player who failed to win an MVP award?

As a team leader and possessing a high basketball IQ, Isiah Thomas was an example of a perfect point guard. Not only could he orchestrate an offense, but he also gave a lot of effort on defense, turning the Pistons into a formidable force to take on the Celtics and Lakers in the '80s.

If you're looking for an assists machine, this was your guy, but he couldn't pass his way to an MVP. Can you name him?

John Stockton's chances at an MVP were often thwarted by the success of his teammate Karl Malone. Together, they made a dynamic pick and roll duo, but Malone was the one who would take home MVP honors twice.

Do you recognize this former star whose mastery in the offensive post never helped him win an MVP?

Kevin McHale had an offensive post game that became known as the "Torture Chamber" because of the variety of moves he could use on his opponents. However, his calling card was his defense, as he was named to the All Defensive First Team three times.

It's hard to earn an MVP when you play next to Michael Jordan like this player. What's his name?

Scottie Pippen once stated that there isn't a game he would play where he wouldn't chose Michael Jordan. Hopefully, Jordan feels the same way because he never won an NBA championship without Pippen on his team.

Having not won an MVP award, who is this NBA superstar that decided to call it quits in 2019?

In 2006, Dwyane Wade put together one of the greatest playoff runs the NBA world has ever seen. Even with Shaquille O'Neal on the team, Wade was clearly the leader, averaging 28 points per game and eventually earning the Finals MVP after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

Are you familiar with this player who didn't win an MVP despite finishing in the top ten in voting five times?

After spending most of his career in Portland, Clyde Drexler took a chance in 1994 and went to play with his old college teammate, Hakeem Olajuwon, in Houston. Together, they won the 1995 NBA championship, giving Drexler the only title of his career.

When Boston needed an MVP, this guy stepped up, but he never actually got the award. Who is he?

The fans who pile into TD Garden each year will forever be grateful to Paul Pierce for delivering them their only championship since Larry Bird in the '80s. To honor Pierce for his contributions, the team even hung his No. 34 in the rafters.

Do you know this powerful center who led the Knicks through the '90s without being awarded an MVP?

In an era where big men dominated the NBA, Patrick Ewing was right there in the middle of them, averaging 21 points and nearly 10 rebounds throughout his career. Too bad he played in a decade featuring Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon or his accomplishments might've been greater.

This MVP-less star was in charge of running the Celtics after Bill Russell and Bob Cousy retired. Can you identify him?

People often want to dismiss players like John Havlicek when they discuss the greatest champions of all time. That's a bit of a crime considering Havlicek was undefeated in the Finals with eight championships on his resume.

What's the name of this retired small forward who won both a Finals MVP and All Star Game MVP but never a regular season MVP?

Throughout his career, Rick Barry was one of the most consistent free throw shooters in the game. He used an uncommon shooting style, though, preferring to shoot the ball underhanded.

Did you watch this superstar rack up enough triple doubles to remember who he is?

Jason Kidd twice competed in the Olympic Games for the United States in 2000 and 2008. Both years, the United States won gold, and Kidd proved he could be a valuable orchestrator on offense at the international level.

High-flying dunks put this offensive machine in the MVP race, but the award never fell his way. Do you remember watching him slam it down?

From the MVP race to scoring titles, Dominique Wilkins was always behind Michael Jordan when it came to accomplishments. One of the most intense competitions between the two was the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest, where Jordan received favorable scores in front of his home crowd in Chicago.

Can you recall the name of this former New York Knicks star?

Walt Frazier's biggest obstacle when it came to the MVP was that he played at the same time as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kareem won five MVPs throughout the '70s and one more in 1980, forcing players like Frazier to settle for All Star appearances during their best years.

Which player known for his defensive prowess is shown here?

Gary Payton spent most of his time in the NBA with the Seattle SuperSonics, where he made quite a few lengthy playoff runs. His best run with the SuperSonics was in 1996 when they reached the NBA Finals but lost to the Chicago Bulls.

Are you able to name this retired superstar who came as close as second place in the MVP race?

In his first game with the Chicago Bulls, Nate Thurmond racked up a ridiculous stat line of 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocked shots. His insane, stat filled game made him the first player in NBA history to record a quadruple double.

An NBA scoring champion and rebounding leader, who is this 12-time All Star who missed out on an MVP opportunity?

Elvin Hayes was one of the most durable players the game has ever seen. Over the course of his 16-year career, Hayes never missed more than one game in a regular season and played in every game eight of those years.

This legend was known for his calm demeanor during games but not for his MVP awards. Can you name him?

George Gervin was so calm and collected on the court that he earned the nickname "The Iceman." The ice that poured through his veins was one of the reasons he earned four scoring titles, averaging 33 points per game during his best season.

He helped both the Celtics and Bulls win championships while watching other stars on his team win MVPs, leaving him out of the race. Do you know him?

If you want to talk about long careers, no one played longer in the NBA than Robert Parish, who finished his career with 1,611 regular season games under his belt. Luckily, this 21-year veteran was able to go out on top when he won an NBA title with the Bulls in 1997, the same season he retired.

Known for showing up in big games, are you familiar with this player who didn't put up enough numbers during the regular season?

James Worthy was an integral part of the "Showtime" Lakers, who brought a fast break style of basketball to the NBA in the 1980s. Accompanied by live bands and dance teams, this iteration of the Lakers was a perfect fit for the Hollywood setting.

Can you identify this player whose MVP skills have diminished though he's still trying to win a championship?

Despite being only 6 feet tall, Chris Paul fears no one when he steps onto the court with the goal of winning. Paul has such a desire to win, in fact, that it created a rift between him and his Clippers' teammates, which was a major reason he left to join the Rockets in 2017.

You had a walking double-double with this MVP candidate throughout the '70s. What's his name?

Playing in a total of eight NBA All Star Games, Bob Lanier's greatest performance came in 1974. Lanier was named the MVP of the game after putting up 24 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Who is this former number one overall draft pick whose stats lived up to the hype though his accomplishments never did?

Fed up with his time in Orlando, Dwight Howard requested to be traded from the team in 2012. Howard got his wish and was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers, but he ended up getting more than he asked for, as he faced constant criticism from Lakers' teammate Kobe Bryant who called him out for being soft.

His college career ended in controversy, but his time in the NBA was full of highlights other than an MVP award. Do you recognize this player?

While playing at the University of Michigan, Chris Webber was part of a revolutionary recruiting class known as the "Fab Five." Not only did they introduce baggier clothing to the game, but they also had an attitude about them that hadn't been seen before on the college level.

Did you ever watch this star play basketball before injuries took his prime as well as an MVP opportunity from him?

Grant Hill's first season in the NBA proved why this gifted small forward was highly sought coming out of college. He started 69 games that year and averaged nearly 20 points per game on his way to being named both an NBA All Star and Co-Rookie of the Year.

Though this legend didn't win an MVP, he did have his number retired by the Cavaliers. Is he a player you're familiar with?

Before there was LeBron James, Cleveland had Mark Price, who played there from 1986 until 1995. Price was named to four All Star Games during that span and won two three-point shooting contests, which gave the Cleveland crowd something to root for other than a championship.

A monster on the defensive side of the ball, what's the name of this floor general who couldn't put up enough offensive stats to win the MVP award?

Sidney Moncrief led a Milwaukee Bucks team throughout the '80s that sat behind only the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics in terms of winning percentage. He failed to clinch a title, though, and retired after one season with the Atlanta Hawks.

You would think that carrying a team to its first 50-win season would help you earn MVP honors, but that wasn't the case for this player. Who is he?

Dave Bing was taken with the second pick in the 1966 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He fell behind Cazzie Russell in the draft, who the New York Knicks decided to take with the first pick. Of the two, Bing was the only one to make the Hall of Fame.

Do you know this freak athlete who was extremely dangerous under the rim?

Shawn Kemp might have spent most of his NBA career in Seattle, but his most productive scoring years came in Cleveland. In his first two seasons with the Cavs, Kemp averaged over 20 points per game for the only time in his career.

Is this speed-driven point guard a player you are familiar with despite the fact that he didn't win an MVP?

Tim Hardaway was a sneaky defender who could rack up steals if the other team wasn't careful. Two example of this was in the 1991 and 1992 playoffs when he stole the ball eight times in each game, tying an NBA Playoff record that was later broken by Allen Iverson.

This player was known for his high scoring percentage and buzzcut, but he was never known for winning MVPs. Can you identify him?

Chris Mullin was part of the 1992 "Dream Team" that won gold in Barcelona after going undefeated in the tournament. Recognized as the greatest basketball team ever assembled, they were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a single unit.

Are you familiar with this former star who left the NBA and went into broadcasting without an MVP or championship?

If there was ever a fan base that truly hated another player, it was the New York Knicks and their hatred of Reggie Miller. They had good reason to, of course, as Miller was the ultimate trash talker and even eliminated the Knicks in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, which was the last time the Knicks made it that far in the playoffs.

Did you watch this three-point specialist play enough to name him?

After five seasons in Boston and an NBA title, Ray Allen left the Celtics to join their enemy at the time, the Miami Heat. Celtics' teammates like Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo disowned Allen after that, and their relationship has yet to recover.

A player so skilled that three NBA teams retired his number, do you recognize this NBA legend who never got to hold up an MVP award?

Approaching the age of 30, Pete Maravich's career slowed significantly due to injuries that took their toll on the shooting guard. During the 1977-78 season, he only played in 50 games but still put up 27 points per game. However, he wouldn't play more than 50 games for the rest of his career.

Can you recall the name of this freak athlete who might not have earned an MVP but could run the pick and roll as if he invented it?

Amare Stoudemire played alongside Steve Nash in one of the most dynamic offenses to ever take the court. Coached by Mike D'Antoni, this offense pushed the pace of play as they tried to get a shot off in seven seconds or less.

This team leader could make big shots when they counted, but that wasn't enough to get an MVP. What's his name?

Chauncey Billups might not have a regular season MVP, but his performance in 2004 NBA Finals was what made this man a legend. Facing a loaded Lakers' team, Billups and the Pistons never let Los Angeles score over 100 points in a game and finished the series off in Game 5.

Are you familiar with this offensive juggernaut who missed out on several MVP chances?

Tracy McGrady competed against two of the greatest scorers in the game, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson, for the NBA scoring title during the 2000s. McGrady and Bryant finished their careers with two apiece, while Iverson upped them by one.

Standing 7 feet, 6 inches tall, this gigantic center made a case year after year that he should have an MVP attached to his name. Do you know him?

Yao Ming surprised the entire NBA world with his unique combination of extreme size and offensive skill. To his detriment, however, that size took its toll on his body, and he was out of the league after only eight seasons.

It's hard to win an MVP when you're competing against the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant like this player. Who is he?

While LeBron James was creating a super team in Miami with his friends, Carmelo Anthony decided that money was more important and went to the Knicks in 2011. Anthony got his money, but he never advanced far in the playoffs.

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