Michael Jordan won the MVP award five times in his career but could have won even more. The trophy is now named after him, but in the 1986-87 season, for example, Michael Jordan lost out to Magic Johnson in exciting circumstances.
The criteria for MVP is a contentious topic even today, the last few MVP races have been very intense. And when he didn't win the award despite averaging 37.1 points in 1987, Michael Jordan, too, questioned the whole situation.
"No, not at all," Michael Jordan said when asked if he had any issues with Magic Johnson winning MVP. He added, "I think that both of us had good years, but sometimes you have to question what are the credentials for the MVP. No one really knows. How valuable you are to the team and to the league itself. And what you do to contribute to both of them."
Michael Jordan's stats in that season were far and away better than Magic Johnson's. He averaged an insane 37.1 points to Magic's 23.9 points per game, 2.9 steals in comparison to Magic's 1.7, and 1.5 blocks to his 0.5 blocks per game. Michael Jordan was only significantly behind Magic Johnson in assists, the Lakers legend averaged 12.2 per game that season compared to Michael Jordan's 4.6 assists per game.
The difference came regarding team records. This is the debate that still goes on today. Magic Johnson led the Lakers to a league-best 65-17 record and the first seed in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, a young Bulls team with Michael Jordan somehow snuck into the playoffs as the 8th seed with a 40-42 record despite his heroics. That 25-win difference is likely what swung the vote in Magic's favor.
Michael Jordan was the runner-up that year, he received 449 points in the MVP race, so it's not like people didn't acknowledge how great he was, either. But Magic Johnson got 733 points and MJ felt that his defense might have been overlooked by voters.
"I don't like to lead the league in scoring. But I think other parts of my game were not acknowledged as they should have been. To have over 100 blocks and over 100 steals also, I think you have to be contributing in other areas as well as scoring."
There were surely fans at the time who were livid about Michael Jordan not being awarded the MVP. But in hindsight, one could say that it's understandable that Magic Johnson won it. Michael Jordan won five in his career and now the trophy is named after him so we can say that it all worked out for everyone.