On May 19, 1987, former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson was named MVP, winning the award for the first time in his career. Johnson went on to earn MVP honors again in 1989 and 1990.
Johnson received 65 of 78 first-place votes and a total of 788 points in balloting. En route to becoming just the second player in NBA history to score more than 3,000 points in a single season, Michael Jordan placed second in voting with 449 points (10 first-place votes).
He was followed by Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird, who received just one first-place vote and 271 overall points. Johnson winning the MVP Award snapped Bird’s string of three consecutive seasons taking home the honor.
“I’d like to thank Larry Bird for having a slightly off year, and I want to strangle Michael Jordan for putting all the pressure on me,” Johnson joked in his acceptance speech during a news conference.
Johnson averaged a career-high 23.9 points and led the NBA in assists (12.2), while also contributing 6.3 rebounds per game. His efforts helped guide the Lakers to the best overall record at 65-17.
While the 1987 MVP Award was the first for Johnson, he’d previously been named MVP of the NBA Finals in 1980 and 1982. He completed a banner season by earning a third Finals MVP Award in 1987, as the Lakers defeated the Celtics in six games.