MJ And the "King" Were Both Far From Unanimous Rookie of the Year Winners

Published on February 16th, 2023 5:13 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Two all-time superstars had to battle for the NBA Rookie of the Year Honors in their respective years. Michael Jordan and LeBron James - arguably the two greatest basketball players of all time - both had to battle to win the Rookie of the Year award.

You might assume that both MJ and James were unanimous winners of the Rookie of the Year award, but that would be far from the truth.

In fact, while both men ended up winning the award, they both had to battle to do so, as they both faced strong challenges to win ROY.


Michael Jordan had a phenomenal rookie year in 1984-85 - in fact, he ended up finishing in 6th place for the MVP vote that year as well.

MJ, however, had a very stiff challenge for the Rookie of the Year vote that year, as another future Hall of Famer, Hakeem Olajuwon, was a rookie that season as well.

MJ scorched the league in 1984-85, putting up over 28 points per game, along with 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

Olajuwon, however, put together a monster season as well, as he averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 2.7 blocks per game.

Olajuwon was able to earn a number of votes for Rookie of the Year in 1984-85, and here is how the voting ended up breaking down:

Michael Jordan, 57.5 First Place Votes
Hakeem Olajuwon, 20.5 First Place Votes

Michael Jordan ended up winning the Rookie of the Year award, but it was closer than what most people might think.


LeBron James also had to battle for his Rookie of the Year award, as there were a number of phenomenal rookies in his class as well.

LeBron James would receive 78 first-place votes in 2003-04, ahead of the 40 first-place votes that Carmelo Anthony received.

Some believe that Carmelo Anthony did enough to win ROY in 2003-04 - here is a look at the side-by-side numbers:

Lebron: 20.9, 5.5, 5.9
Carmelo: 21.0, 6.1, 2.8

It was very close, though LeBron ended up edging out Carmelo for Rookie of the Year honors.


Two of the greatest players of all time, and they both had to battle to win the ROY award.

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