NBA names MVP after Michael Jordan as best reinvented awards

NBA names MVP after Michael Jordan as best reinvented awards

NBA names MVP after Michael Jordan as best reinvented awards

The NBA is renaming its annual regular season MVP award in honor of Michael Jordan, the player who topped ESPN’s NBA 75th Anniversary Team list named last season.

The league unveiled the newly designed Michael Jordan Trophy on Tuesday, along with five other reimagined trophies named after league pioneers that will now be presented to NBA season-ending performance award winners.

Jordan was a five-time MVP winner during his 15-season career. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, for whom the league’s Social Justice Champion award is named, has won more MVP trophies (six).

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic will retroactively receive the first version of the new trophy after being named MVP last season.

In addition to the Jordan Trophy, the other renamed awards are:

  • The Hakeem Olajuwon Defensive Player of the Year Trophy

  • The Wilt Chamberlain Trophy for Rookie of the Year

  • The John Havlicek Sixth Man of the Year Trophy

  • The George Mikan trophy for most improved player

Olajuwon was a nine-time All-Defensive Team selection who won Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 and 1994. Chamberlain won both Rookie of the Year and MVP in 1960, averaging 37.6 points per game in his first season. Havlicek was an 11-time All-NBA selection despite coming off the bench for several seasons, although his career preceded the creation of the Sixth Man of the Year award in 1982-83. And Mikan was widely regarded as the league’s first superstar, leading the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships in the 1940s and 1950s.

The league also announced a new Clutch Player of the Year award, named for Jerry West, who has played in nine Finals and remains the only player to win Finals MVP while losing the series.

The new trophy updates are part of a multi-year project to reinvent many of the NBA’s top awards. Last season, the NBA unveiled an updated Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, along with new conference championship trophies named after Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy, as well as Conference Finals MVP trophies named after Magic Johnson and Larry Bird .

“Our new trophy collection celebrates some of the greatest and most impactful players in NBA history,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “While we recognize the best players in the league each season, we also pay tribute to the legends who embody these prestigious awards.”

The Michael Jordan Trophy features an NBA player stepping off a rock to reach the ultimate rock: a crystal basketball. Previously, the league MVP trophy was named after former commissioner Maurice Podoloff, whose name will now be associated with a new trophy honoring the team with the best regular season record.

According to a statement from the NBA, the new trophy becomes more burnished — “from the rough to the refined” — from the bottom up, signifying the MVP’s hard work and progression from entering the NBA to achieving its most great individual honour.

Mark Smith, retired vice president of innovation special projects at Nike and designer of the Jordan brand, worked creatively with Jordan to design the new trophy, which includes several details intended to honor specific elements of Jordan’s heritage. The trophy stands 23.6 inches tall and represents Jordan’s jersey number (23) and number of NBA championships (six).

The five-sided base of the trophy is a nod to Jordan’s five league MVPs, and the crystal basket at the top is 23 points and measures 1.23 inches in diameter.

With the exception of the Jordan Trophy, all of the new trophies were designed in collaboration with Victor Solomon, who also redesigned the NBA championship trophy last season. The individual award trophies all feature nesting within a 15-inch crystal mesh structure. The front face is flat to allow a direct line of sight to the icon and the engraving of the award and recipient is detailed on the underside.

“As we worked alongside the NBA to reinvent the league’s trophy offerings, our one goal was to create a coherent collection of honors worthy of the athletes who raise them,” Solomon said in a statement. “These trophies celebrate the hard work of players who reach the pinnacle of individual excellence while honoring the NBA legends who defined that greatness.”

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