The NBA MVP race is coming down to the wire in this 2020-21 season as teams start to brace for the playoffs or get ready to pack it up and call it a year. At present time, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the favorite in the eyes of many to win the award.
Others in contention include: Chris Paul, who has taken the Phoenix Suns from the cellar of the Western Conference to the two-seed in his first year in the desert, Joel Embiid who missed some time due to injuries but has the Philadelphia 76ers poised to lock in the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and Stephen Curry who has absolutely lit the league on fire with numbers we haven’t even seen him display before, even in his previous two MVP seasons. All that said, Jokic remains the heavy favorite to take home the hardware.
Regardless of how it turns out in 2020-21, it’s always fun to turn back the clock.
Let’s go back in time and take a gander at the 3 oldest NBA MVPs of all time.
The 3 Oldest NBA MVPs of all time
Karl Malone: 1999
Arguably the greatest player in league history to never win a ring, Karl Malone earned MVP honors as a 35-year-old (he turned 36 in July of that year) playing for the Utah Jazz. The Mailman tallied 23.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game for the 1998-99 season and won the award over fellow big men Alonzo Mourning and Tim Duncan.
Malone led Utah to a league-best record of 37-13 (tied with the Spurs) during the lockout-shortened NBA campaign. The fact that the media voted for Malone puzzled some, though, as his per-game numbers were his worst since his second season in the NBA. One could make a solid case that Duncan was more deserving because he out-rebounded Malone and was a superior defender while averaging just 2.1 fewer points (21.7).
Nonetheless, it was Karl Malone who took home the honors at the age of 35 and he is still regarded as one of the games greats, despite never having won a ring and coming so close on many occasions.
Michael Jordan: 1998
Jordan’s final season in Chicago was a storybook ending to an incredible 13-year stint with the franchise. Not only did he capture his sixth and final championship ring, but His Airness also took home the regular-season MVP trophy.
At age 35, Jordan won MVP after playing in all 82 games and averaging 28.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 38.8 minutes per game of action. He also led Chicago to a 62-20 record, which was good enough for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Players such as Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tim Duncan also received consideration for the award, but Jordan was the consensus pick and thus received the most first-place votes by far (92).
While Jordan and Malone were both 35 years old when they won these respective MVPs, MJ had just turned 35 in February 1998, so he was a younger 35.
Regarded as the GOAT, and rightfully so, Jordan won plenty of MVP’s, NBA Finals, NBA Finals MVP’s and tons of other awards throughout his career. Out of his six championships won, this one at age 35 that was topped off with the MVP award alongside it is as impressive as any for Jordan.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 1980
Kareem won MVP a record-setting six times over the course of his illustrious 20-year NBA career. His very last award came during his fifth season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar scored 23.3 points, pulled down 10.1 rebounds, and came up with a whopping 3.2 blocks per contest in 1979-80. The Hall of Famer suited up for all 82 matches in the regular season, and he along with rookie Magic Johnson led LA to an impressive 60-22 record and the top seed in the Western Conference.
Kareem was 33 years old when he earned his final MVP. The runner-up for the hardware was Philadelphia 76ers star Julius Erving, and San Antonio Spurs forward George Gervin received the third-most votes. Los Angeles ended up defeating the Sixers in the 1980 NBA Finals in six games, which resulted in Abdul-Jabbar obtaining his first of five rings as a Laker.
The only realistic way this list gets a new name this year is if Chris Paul takes home the MVP award for the Phoenix Suns at the age of 36. CP3 has been brilliant all season long for Phoenix but it’s likely the award will go to Nikola Jokic nonetheless. Jokic has been tremendous for Denver and has become a walking triple-double at times throughout the year. He has the Nuggets poised to make another deep run in the NBA Playoffs. Because of that, this list likely stays with the same three names for another year.
So, what do you make of the 3 oldest NBA MVPs of all time?