The National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player (MVP) is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given since the 1955–56 season to the best performing player of the regular season. The winner receives the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, which is named in honor of the first commissioner (then president) of the NBA, who served from 1946 until 1963. Until the 1979–80 season, the MVP was selected by a vote of NBA players. Since the 1980–81 season, the award is decided by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada, each of whom casts a vote for first to fifth place selections. Each first-place vote is worth 10 points; each second-place vote is worth seven; each third-place vote is worth five, fourth-place is worth three and fifth-place is worth one. Starting from 2010, one ballot was cast by fans through online voting. The player with the highest point total wins the award. As of June 2021, the current holder of the award is Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets.
Every player who has won this award and has been eligible for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has been inducted. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the award a record six times. Both Bill Russell and Michael Jordan won the award five times, while Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James won the award four times. Russell and James are the only players to have won the award four times in five seasons. Moses Malone, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson each won the award three times, while Bob Pettit, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Stephen Curry have each won it twice. Only two rookies have won the award: Wilt Chamberlain in the 1959–60 season and Wes Unseld in the 1968–69 season. Hakeem Olajuwon of Nigeria, Tim Duncan of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Steve Nash of Canada, Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece, and Nikola Jokic of Serbia are the only MVP winners considered "international players" by the NBA.
Stephen Curry in 2015–16 is the only player to have won the award unanimously. Shaquille O'Neal in 1999–2000 and LeBron James in 2012–13 are the only two players to have fallen one vote shy of a unanimous selection, both receiving 120 of 121 votes. The 2017 winner, Russell Westbrook, was the first to have played for a team that failed to win at least 50 regular-season games since the 1982–83 season. Every player to have won the award has made at least one appearance as a player in the NBA Finals, with the exceptions of Steve Nash, Derrick Rose, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic.