New York, June 25: James Harden did not win his second NBA MVP award but he still joined an exclusive group on Monday.
The Houston Rockets star lost out to the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, making this the third time he finished runner-up in the most valuable player voting.
Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan (1987, 1989 and 1997), Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (2006, 2014 and 2018) and Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant (2010, 2012 and 2013) have also finished second on three occasions.
Larry Bird finished as an MVP runner-up four times in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1988. Jerry West was also a second-place finisher four times, but he played before the NBA/ABA merger in 1976.
Harden entered 2018-19 as the reigning MVP and he arguably improved upon last season's impressive run. The Rockets guard led the league in scoring for a second consecutive year, averaging a staggering 36.1 points per game. He also put together an incredible run in which he scored 30 points or more in 32 consecutive games.
Antetokounmpo, however, made history in his own right.
The Greek sensation was historically good as a finisher at the rim and became the first player in NBA history to average at least 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. He led Milwaukee to a league-best 60-22 record at the age of 24 and is one of the youngest ever to be named MVP in the modern era.