Inside the NBA Process of Rebranding Awards – NBC Los Angeles

In the 70 or so years since it was first invented, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player trophy has evolved.

It used to be called the President’s Trophy. Players used to vote. Everything changed over time; The trophy was known as the Maurice Podoloff Trophy and a media panel of 100 writers and broadcasters are now voting.

As of Tuesday, there’s a new trophy and a new name – the Michael Jordan Trophy. It’s packed with tributes to his career, most notably that it weighs 23.6 pounds and is 23.6 inches tall; the 23 for his jersey, the 6 for his six championships. This required some serious work on the design end, but in the end it was exactly what Jordan and his team wanted.

It’s the biggest step in a long line of tweaks and twists the NBA has seen in recent years. Insight:

Why is the NBA renaming trophies?

Commissioner Adam Silver has made it clear, particularly after the league went into the 2020 season restart bubble due to the pandemic at Walt Disney World, that the NBA still needs to do more to pay tribute to its greatest players — particularly some of the league’s Black players from a generation or two ago, whose stories may not resonate with younger fans today.

Rebranding and redesigning is not an easy process, especially in a league that bills itself as steeped in tradition.

It was no coincidence that the division’s six new championship trophies, introduced late last season, were named after the game’s black pioneers – Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, Wayne Embry, Earl Lloyd, Willis Reed, Sam Jones and Chuck Cooper .

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“I know what we’re doing in this league is symbolically important, not just for esports but for other industries, and people around the world are watching us,” Silver said at last season’s NBA Finals .

Is this a conflict for Jordan?

No, this is not a conflict for Jordan, even though he owns the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan rarely takes the spotlight anymore and chooses his spots very carefully; He didn’t want this trophy to have his likeness, didn’t speak about Tuesday’s announcement and rarely makes public comments on any subject.

The MVP trophy is usually presented by the commissioner; It seems unlikely that Jordan would be asked to do this, although there is no rule – whether tampering or not – that would prevent it.

The NBA asked Bill Russell to present the NBA Finals MVP trophy that bears his name, and he did so for many years until the pandemic and his health prevented him from continuing that tradition. Russell died earlier this year.

How many named trophies does the NBA have?

That is much. There’s Larry O’Brien (NBA Champion), Jordan (MVP), Russell (NBA Finals MVP), Red Auerbach (Coach of the Year), Joe Dumars (Sportsmanship), Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson (MVPs of the conference finals). , Kobe Bryant (All-Star MVP) and the six division trophies.

There are also a slew of new or renamed players announced Tuesday – Hakeem Olajuwon (Defensive Player of the Year), John Havlicek (Sixth Man), Wilt Chamberlain (Rookie) and George Mikan (Most Improved). A new trophy this year is Clutch Player of the Year, named after “Mr. Clutch” himself, Jerry West.

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“There’s few greater thrills as a basketball player than getting through for your teammates and fans when they need it most,” West said. “This new trophy will be awarded to the player who performs best in those moments.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has the league’s Social Justice Champion trophy that bears his name, David Robinson has the NBA Community Assist Monthly Award, and Bob Lanier has the Community Assist Season-Long trophy.

Who changes the names?

It wasn’t one or two people. The league formed a group of about 20 people from at least half a dozen different divisions to meet and decide how to change the trophies and, in some cases, the naming elements.

The process took several months, the league said.

What’s next?

It doesn’t seem right that David Stern — the league’s commissioner for 30 years, Silver’s predecessor and mentor, and one of the people who basically helped save the league from financial peril in the 1980s — doesn’t have a trophy with his name on it .

If the league adds a tournament to the season and there are plans to possibly host one as early as next season, Stern seems like a contender for that trophy.

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