Who are the most loved NBA MVPs?
Each year, the NBA’s biggest names compete for the title of MVP. But which icons of past and present are most adored by fans across the country?
As the current NBA season comes to an end, the Golden State Warriors take on the Boston Celtics for Championship glory. But team achievement isn’t the only focus for some players, with the NBA’s biggest stars competing to win the coveted MVP award - which got us thinking: which former NBA MVPs are the most popular among fans?
We’ve analyzed social media data to reveal just this! Read on to find out which NBA MVPs are the most adored by basketball fans around the country…
Which NBA MVPs do fans love the most?
Comparing the complete list of basketball players who have previously won the NBA MVP award, we’ve been able to reveal those who are most popular among fans according to social media sentiment data.
Derrick Rose (2011)
Claiming the crown as the most-loved NBA MVP is former Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, who registers an impressive 27.10 per cent positive sentiment online: more than any other MVP, past or present.
Rose earned the accolade after his heroics in 2011 and became only the second ever Bulls player to win the award – the first being Michael Jordan. The subsequent year saw Rose suffer a serious injury, however, and he’s struggled to hit the same glorious highs since, suggesting that at least some of the positive sentiment might be sympathetic.
Allen Iverson (2001)
Next up, Allen Iverson picks up a positive sentiment rate of 23.90 per cent, placing as the second most adored MVP of all time. Despite featuring on the losing end of an NBA Finals duel in 2001, Iverson earned the award after the most successful individual season of his career.
Kobe Bryant (2008)
The late Kobe Bryant was an icon of the game, winning five championship titles with the Los Angeles Lakers across a 20-season career and earning the NBA MVP award in 2008. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bryant remains one of the best-loved stars even after his recent passing, with 17.80 per cent of all social media sentiment considered positive.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (2019, 2020)
The Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo also places among the most popular MVPs with 17.00 per cent positive sentiment among fans. He’s a relatively new addition to the honored list, after picking up back-to-back awards in 2019 and 2020. Incidentally, the Milwaukee Bucks forward was also named NBA Finals MVP in 2021 after spearheading his team to their first title in 50 years.
Stephen Curry (2015, 2016)
Steph Curry has helped the Golden State Warriors to three NBA Championships since starting his career in 2009, including the Warriors’ first in 40 years in 2015. And with the Finals in full swing, this could soon become four. Curry has also earned two NBA MVP titles during his time with the Warriors, and is one of the most appreciated and adored, with 14.80 per cent of all conversations about him online considered positive.
Michael Jordan (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998)
With an astonishing five NBA MVPs to his name, no player has earned the individual award more than Michael Jordan since the Chicago Bulls made his debut in 1984. Part of the dominant Bulls team that won six Championships between 1991-1998, Jordan is still adored around the world and earns a positive sentiment rate of 12.20 per cent.
LeBron James (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
LeBron James is a giant of the court and considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, with fans often comparing him Jordan. James earned three MVPs at the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he also won a trio of NBA Championships, while his fourth MVP award came during his time at Miami Heat. Overall, his on-court success has earned him fans around the country, securing a social media positive sentiment rate of 10.70 per cent.
Dirk Nowitzki (2007)
Dirk Nowitzki spent his entire NBA career at the Dallas Mavericks, during which time he helped the team to NBA Championship success in 2011. On a personal front, though, Nowitzki was named NBA MVP in 2007, becoming the first European player to pick up the award. 15 years later, Nowitzki is still honored among fans, with a 10.30 per cent positive sentiment rate across social media.
Kevin Garnett (2004)
Kevin Garnett picked up the NBA MVP award in 2004, while playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Still a fan favorite despite retiring in 2016, 10.10 per cent of online conversations about Garnett are considered positive in sentiment.
Which positions are most likely to become MVP fan favorites?
When comparing each of our best-loved NBA MVPs, it’s evident that the fan favorites generally play in guard roles, with Rose and Iverson earning particular acclaim with over 20 per cent of conversations online considered positive in nature.
Bryant, Curry and Jordan also ensure that five of the top six individuals are recognized as guards. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the highest ranked forward, perhaps thanks to his recent personal wins.
However, while guard and forward roles dominate so far, after recently winning his second NBA MVP award in as many seasons, Nikola Jokic seems to be forcing the center position into the conversation.
As the current NBA campaign comes to an end, focus will soon turn to next season and the stars battling it out for the title of MVP. For even more expert insight, check out the latest NBA news, including the most up-to-date tips, picks, and betting odds.
To determine the MVPs with the most positive online sentiment, we used the Linkfluence social listening tool. Linkfluence crawls data on mentions across the internet from the past 12 months. Using this data, we ranked the players on who was most positively talked about online.