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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 ESPN.com

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.