Winning my first MVP in 1971, my second year with the Milwaukee Bucks, was a great honor. I liked the fact that it went along with us winning the world championship, and having done it while playing with Oscar Robertson made me feel great. During that season, I had to play a couple of games against Wilt Chamberlain, who was the standard prior to me for excellence in pivot play. I was able to outplay him -– 40.2 PPG in five games, including a 50-point game –- and that to me was an indication that I had possibly arrived.
Prior to the 1975-76 season I was traded to the Lakers. I was very fortunate to win my fourth MVP award that year, because the team didn’t do well. We finished 40-42 and missed the playoffs. But I had such a great year statistically, that’s why I won it. In 1980, when I won my last regular-season MVP, that was also the year that a rookie named Magic Johnson burst onto the scene. When we got Earvin, we had somebody that could run the team offense. Jack McKinney did a great job of understanding Earvin’s unique ability to play the game and to devise an offense that worked for all of the people that we had on the team. I’ve won six total regular-season MVPs, more than any other player, and people ask me all the time — do I think that another player will achieve that number? It’s always possible, but it’s going to take a dominant player to do it. There have been a lot of great players to not win it.
Thoughts on Kobe’s First MVP:
My thoughts on Kobe’s first MVP: Kobe has had the ability to score so prolifically that people at times have knocked him. But winning that award helps put everything in perspective and shows that he’s been a leader and team player in addition to being so brilliant at what he does.
Fisher’s Return to Utah:
Derek Fisher’s return to Utah on Friday is the one-year anniversary to the day of what Derek went through during last year’s playoffs with his daughter’s medical troubles and his emotional return for Game 2 of the Jazz’s Western Conference semifinal series with the Warriors. I thought Derek made quite a statement both as a professional athlete and as a parent that day. He was able to do both with an outstanding degree of determination and focus. When he returned to Utah this season as a member of the Lakers, I was surprised by the reception he received from the crowd, and I didn’t understand it. Maybe the people up there in Utah have some issues that I’m not aware of.
What Derek Fisher Means to the Lakers:
I think Derek Fisher brings a lot to the Lakers — he has meant quality leadership for the team and he runs the offense with a steady hand. He keeps the younger players from just flying off the edge emotionally, keeps them steady and keeps them focused. His excellent play on the court aside, I think he is very valuable to the team just because of his leadership qualities. Derek has made everybody focus on how we need to win instead of getting into useless details. He’s enabled the team to recognize the difference between those useless details and what is important to succeed.
My Most Memorable Moment:
My most memorable moment for our franchise, and for me personally, was beating the Celtics in 1985. That was a very special moment. I was fortunate enough to be the MVP in that series. That, to me, had a whole lot of emotional value to it, which some people might not understand. The Lakers were 0-8 against the Celtics in championship play up until that point, but we finally had the better team. And for me being a key reason for the Lakers to be able to finally break through was even more special.
P.S. Today is my last blog for the L.A. Times. Starting Monday, May 12, I will be moving my blog to my own website. I hope you will join me at www.kareemabduljabbar.com so we can continue sharing.