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Friday, May 25, 2001
Updated: May 22, 11:46 AM ET
Larry Legend - Bird wins third straight MVP

By Larry Schwartz
Special to

May 28, 1986

Larry Bird, in his seventh season in the league, joins Hall of Fame centers Bill Russell (1961-63) and Wilt Chamberlain (1966-68) as the only players to be named MVP three straight seasons.

In leading the Celtics to an NBA-best 67-15 record, Bird receives 765 of a possible 780 points, getting 73 first-place votes and five second-place votes from 78 sports journalists. He easily outdistances Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins, who gets 407 points and the other five first-place votes. The Lakers' Magic Johnson finishes third, the Rockets' Akeem Olajuwon fourth and the Lakers' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar fifth.

The 6-foot-9 Bird averaged 25.8 points (fourth in the league), 9.8 rebounds (seventh) and 2.02 steals (ninth). He shot a league-leading .896 from the foul line and .423 from three-point range (fourth). In 11 days, Bird will win the Finals MVP as well for leading the Celtics to the NBA championship in six games over Houston.