It’s no coincidence that in the same year that the NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary, the league is unveiling an array of awards and trophies that will feature new designs and honor such notable players as Larry Bird, Irvin “Magic” Johnson, Bob Causey and Oscar Robertson.
During the conference finals, which can begin on Sunday or Monday, a first featured player will be awarded a Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP award, and another winner will receive their first Earvin “Magic” Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP award.
Johnson and Bird, both of whom were inducted into the league in 1979 and whose rivalry helped spread the NBA over several decades, make sense for redesigned awards for excellence in each conference, according to the league.
“Larry and Magic define the ’80s and exemplify that two-way relationship that’s their conventions like no other two people,” said Christopher Arena, NBA President of Infield and Brand Partnerships. “We thought it was perfect consistency as you advance to the NBA Finals and potentially win the Bill Russell Cup, obviously the most winning player in our history.”
Additionally, the newly designed Eastern Conference Championship Trophy will now be named after Cousy, one of the guards who won six NBA championships with the Boston Celtics. The updated trophy for the Western Conference Championship will be named after Robertson, the guard who won the NBA championship in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Robertson and Cozy are being honored for their contributions to the field as well as the impact they have made as past presidents of the National Basketball Players Association. Similar to the original trophies created in 2001, both the Eastern and Western Conference tournaments raise a silver basketball.
“We looked at the potential names, and landed on these four [former players] “Why we thought they were some fairly obvious reasons,” Arena said.
The newly named awards aren’t the only changes the league has made in this post-season, as the redesigns are also appearing on other awards, thanks to ongoing collaborations with Los Angeles-based designer Victor Solomon, Tiffany & Co., and the league.
The Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy, introduced in 1977 and named after O’Brien in 1984, is also undergoing a change. The updated version will feature a new circular base that will include the engraved names of all former NBA champions as well as modifications to the basketball look on the top of the cup and on the cup shaft that features a gold basketball hoop.
The Bill Russell Finals MVP Award has received a similar update. While the silhouettes of the Conference Finals cups won’t change significantly, both will be making a fresh appearance ahead of this year’s Championship Series, which is set to begin on Sunday.
Also earlier this season, the league debuted with new titles linked to awards honoring Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner.”