NBA Renaming the MVP Trophy After Michael Jordan

The NBA announced Tuesday that it’s renaming the regular-season MVP award after the most accomplished and arguably the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan. The rebranding comes after six decades of the MVP being named after the League’s first commissioner, Maurice Podoloff.

Jordan’s bonafide’s include winning five MVPs, going six-for-six in the NBA Finals with six Finals MVPs, and 10 scoring titles; he’s a 14-time All-Star and three-time All-Star Game MVP. He’s also been the Defensive Player of the Year, a nine-time All-Defensive team member, and an 11-time All-NBA member. MJ had his iconic No. 23 retired by the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.

The Michael Jordan Trophy will stand 23.6 inches tall and weigh 23.6 pounds, nods to his legendary jersey number and six titles with the Bulls. The MVP trophy has a five-sided base, a tribute to his five MVPs, and its six-sided name badge honors each of his championships. The base is shaped at a 15-degree angle for the 15 seasons Jordan played in the NBA.

Although Jordan approved the design and was involved every step of the way, the Michael Jordan Trophy doesn’t depict him. The Michael Jordan Trophy is a bronze player representing a player “breaking out of a rock to reach for the ultimate rock — a crystal basketball,” per the League. The MVP award symbolizes how hard work leads to something more polished and, finally, something great as you get to the top of the trophy.

“Anybody should be able to see this and see themselves in it,” said longtime Jordan Brand designer Mark Smith, who oversaw the trophy’s design. “They should feel the excellence of Michael Jordan and his pursuit. It’s got his name on it, but it isn’t him. It’s everybody. It could be a shipbuilder, or it could be a teacher or a lawyer or a writer who looks at it and says, ‘That’s what I’m trying to do.’”

The League had decided to rebrand most of its trophies in the last two and add a couple. The NBA introduced the Jerry West Award, given to the Clutch Player of the Year. Like most NBA awards, a media panel decides the winner, and coaches will nominate players for the clutch award. The DPOY will now receive The Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy, the ROY will receive the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy, the Sixth Man of the Year will receive the John Havlicek Trophy, and Most Improved Player will receive the George Mikan Trophy.

“Our new collection of trophies celebrates some of the greatest and most impactful players in the history of the NBA,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As we recognize the League’s top performers each season, we also pay tribute to the legends who embody these prestigious awards.”

“I’m always going to numbers and symbiology as key root DNA to make something specific and authentic for that person,” Smith said. “When you start putting all these things together, there’s only one person, and it becomes very unique. Not different, but very unique.”

Other redesigned or reimaged trophies include some being named for Joe Dumar (sportsmanship), Red Auerbach (Coach of the Year), the Kobe Bryant All-Star MP award, and the Larry O’Brien Trophy for NBA champs and the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP trophy.

The Eastern and Western Conference Finals winners get the Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson trophies, while the East finals MVP gets the Larry Bird Trophy, and the West finals MVP gets the Magic Johnson Trophy. Divisional winners get trophies named after Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton (Atlantic), Wayne Embry (Central), Earl Lloyd (southeast), Willis Reed (Southwest), Sam Jones (Northwest), and Chick Cooper (Pacific).

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