The NBA is really leaning into its 75th anniversary. If you haven’t looked closely you likely missed the fact that all the traditional awards have new redesigned trophies.
Beginning this postseason the Finals MVP will not be the only individual hardware handed out. The league announced the addition of Eastern and Western Conference Final MVPs. The Eastern and Western Conference trophies will bear the names of Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, respectively.
Here are the four new conference finals trophies – designed by Victor Solomon, produced by Tiffany & Co pic.twitter.com/7ekO0JSSSk
— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) May 12, 2022
Honoring Magic and Bird in this way makes sense. They were the NBA in the 1980s and revitalized a fledgling league. They paved the way for Michael Jordan to take the league to even bigger heights and are partly responsible for its global success today.
“Larry and Magic defining the ’80s and having that bicoastal relationship representing their conferences like no other two people have,” said Christopher Arena, who is the NBA’s head of on-court and brand partnerships. “We just thought it was a perfect symmetry as you percolate up to the NBA Finals and you potentially win that Bill Russell Trophy, and obviously the winningest player we have in our history.”
The trophies were designed by luxury jewelry and retailer Tiffany & Co. In addition, the conference championship trophies have also received new designs and will honor legendary NBA players.
The Eastern Conference championship trophy will now be named after Cousy, who won six NBA championships with the Boston Celtics. The Western Conference championship trophy will be named after Oscar Robertson, who won the 1971 NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Yes, the Bucks were in the Western conference from 1969-1980. They are the only franchise to win an NBA title in both conferences (1971 and 2021).
The NBA always likes to honor its past with the names of its trophies and honors, these updates and additions are a logical extension. It also might highlight more changes for the future.
Since all the major individual awards are based on the regular season, it’s nice to have individual postseason honorees. If there are going to be conference final mvps, why not have a playoff starting five and a super-sub? All-NBA playoff would be quite the achievement. You could also add an All-Defensive playoff team.
Let’s normalize celebrating how incredibly difficult it is to win in this league. The internet and talking head shows have everyone convinced only championships matter. That’s simply not the case. Advancing to the conference finals is extremely hard. The vast majority of NBA players don’t advance to that round in their careers.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid is a five-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, three-time All-Defense selection, finished second in MVP voting the last two years, and won the league scoring title this season and still hasn’t advanced past the second round in his career.
Future Hall of Famer and “Point God” Chris Paul has only made two conference finals appearances and might not make another.
Then there are, of course, the 82-game players vs. the 16-game players as Golden State Warriors’ forward Draymond Green likes to discuss. Those players who elevate their games and their team’s should be honored as well.
The NBA is an incredibly talented league with amazing players. Not everyone can win championships. Those that get close should be celebrated too.