The National Basketball Association first named a Most Valuable Player after the 1955-56 NBA season. The winner receives the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, named in honor of the first president of the NBA who served from 1946 until his retirement in 1963. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has won the award in six different seasons, more than any other player. Bill Russell and Michael Jordan both won the award five times.
The winner is selected by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters from the United States and Canada, near the end of the regular season. The most recent recipient was Steve Nash for 2005-06, the first Canadian and third foreign-born player to win the award.
In contrast to other leagues, every player to win the NBA's MVP award has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, except for players who won the award after 1993-94 and are not yet eligible for induction.
MVP voting takes place immediately following the regular season, in order to judge all players over the same period of time, as opposed to giving more weight to a player who has a strong playoff run. This is a common practice among sports leagues, but some critics of this practice believe that the voting for MVP should not take place until after the playoffs.  In the last 25 years, only players from teams with 50 or more wins have won the award, all but assuring that the MVP will be from a playoff-bound team.
Like North America's other major professional sports leagues, the NBA MVP award is chosen by journalists. About 125 members of the media each rank their top 5 candidates, with varying points awarded for each rank. In contrast, the All-NBA Defensive awards are selected by NBA head coaches.