Over the past few seasons in the NBA, big men have made a resurgence. In fact, the last four MVPs have been paint-oriented players. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic secured his second consecutive MVP a few weeks ago, and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo also won it in back-to-back years from 2019-2020.
With the big man renaissance in full effect, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant took to Twitter with a debate-worthy question. What center from the 1990s era would be in contention for Most Valuable Player honors in the modern NBA? He suggested Basketball Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon. The latter two won the MVP hardware in their playing days, with Olajuwon winning it in 1994 and Robinson securing the honor the following season.
Basketball Twitter had a plethora of answers, including some from players of past and present. Rayford Young, the father of Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, only had one name in mind in response to Durant’s question. The elder Young played for Texas Tech in college from 1996-2000 and then professionally in France.
A little later, Los Angeles Lakers superstar and four-time MVP LeBron James chimed in with his choices. He and Durant agreed on Robinson and Olajuwon, but The King selected Shaquille O’Neal over Ewing. Shaq won MVP in 2000 when he played for the Lakers.
Although it is great conversation to have, we’ll never know if these old school centers could truly contend for the MVP hardware in today’s NBA. Who would make your list?