Now that Lebron has won his second MVP trophy, the Cavaliers are now seeking a more important one, a NBA title. However, setting records and getting multiple shiny trophies is obviously secondary to team success. My favorite NBA, NHL, and NFL players are now the two-time reigning MVP’s but have had no team success to show for it at the end of those seasons, with only this year’s Cavs left. After winning his third and forth MVP the past two seasons, Peyton Manning’s Colts failed to claim the Lombardi Trophy. Alex Ovechkin’s MVP seasons ended in first and second round defeats for the Caps. This year even though OV is a finalist for another Hart Trophy, Washington was bounced early from the playoffs yet again. Last year, after winning Cleveland sports’ first MVP since Brian Sipe 30 years ago, the Cavs fell to the Magic before reaching the Finals to meet Kobe and his Lakers. In fact, when Peyton did win his only Super Bowl in 2006, Tomlinson was the MVP. While the most valuable player not winning the title is nothing new, the stats are interesting.
If Lebron doesn’t deliver Cleveland a championship, he’ll be the seventh straight MVP in the NBA to fail to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy. Tim Duncan was the last to accomplish both, in 2002-03, part of a 37% correlation since 1956. However, of the 20 instances out of 54, 8 were just two players, Jordan and Russell.
In the NFL, only 26% of MVP’s won the title, with Kurt Warner in 1999 being the most recent. Strangely enough, between 1993 and 1999 seasons 5 of 7 MVP’s accomplished the feat as well as 4 straight in from 1959-1962.
Even though the Hart Trophy has been around in the NHL for 82 years, only 15 or 18% of those winners took home the Stanley Cup. Even when the Great One rattled off eight straight MVPs, the Oilers only won three championships. The last instance was Martin St. Louis and the Lightning in 2003-04.
The MLB is a little different since there are two MVP’s and less teams in the playoffs. The correlation that one of the MVP’s wins the World Series is higher than the other sports at 47%. From 1939 to 1948, all ten champion teams had the MVP on their roster. However, only one MVP has won the Commissioners Trophy in the past 25 seasons, and that was Kirk Gibson…on one leg.
When looking at one of the most prestigious individual awards in team sports, the Heisman, there is a small correlation as well at 14%. Even though the Heisman sometimes is just the best player on the best team that season, like this year with Alabama’s Ingram, the numbers for the BCS trophy are still low.
While winning the MVP is by no means a curse, like Madden cover or Sports Illustrated cover, it is no guarantee of team success as well. Here is the sporcle with the full list of MVP and Title winners.
Note: I used the AP Poll for the NCAA Football title, and I’m well aware that my favorite NFL player should be a Cleveland Brown. But come on, how could any of these QB’s, RB’s, or WR’s be a fan favorite? Hopefully Josh Cribbs does not have a letdown after his contract year last year.