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NBA Renames MVP Trophy, Redesigns Other Annual Awards

Last Updated: April 18, 2023
In addition to changing the name of the MVP trophy, the league also announced a new award and improved looks to four others.

The NBA is back with fresh hardware designs, names, and even entirely new awards for certain accomplishments.

Among the six redesigned trophies, one of the more notable changes surrounds the Most Valuable Player award. In addition to the facelift, the coveted award boasts a new name — the Michael Jordan Trophy. Speaking of Jordan, the NBA also announced the addition of a new accolade for the most clutch player in the league.

This is just the latest means of innovation and refurbishment for NBA awards. Partnering with Victor Solomon, the league recently introduced new trophies for Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year, Best Regular Season Record, Teammate of the Year, and Best Sportsmanship. Earlier this year, they also unveiled new postseason hardware designed by Tiffany, including the Conference MVP trophies, conference champions for the regular season, and a new look for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

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

Let’s take a look at the Association’s latest rendition of reimagined hardware.

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Most Valuable Player

NBA MVP awards

What’s new?
  • It’s officially named the Michael Jordan Trophy. Jordan won five MVPs and six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls.
  • The bronze trophy features a player breaking out of a rock to reach for a crystal basketball.
  • The trophy stands 23.6 inches tall and weighs 23.6 pounds, representing Jordan’s jersey number (No. 23) and the number of NBA championships won (6).
  • Mark Smith, who worked on typefaces and detail graphics from Air Jordan 9 and beyond, designed the latest MVP trophy.

“Sculpting Michael’s vision of his own pursuit of athletic achievement into this award has been the opportunity and challenge of a lifetime,” said Smith. “As we worked together on this project, it was very important to Michael that the figure not be a likeness of him, but instead that the recipient should be able to see himself in the award.  For Michael, naming the award in his honor was recognition enough.”

Clutch Player of the Year

NBA MVP awards
What’s New?
  • The actual award itself is the first time the NBA has awarded the most “clutch” player.
  • It’s named after Lakers legend and NBA champion Jerry West, known as “Mr. Clutch.”
  • Similar to the Kia Performance Awards, Solomon created the concept.

“While working alongside the NBA to reimagine the league’s trophy offerings, our singular goal was to create a cohesive collection of honors worthy of the athletes who raise them,” said Solomon.

Defensive Player of the Year

NBA MVP awards
What’s New?
  • It’s named after Hakeem Olajuwon, a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and nine-time NBA All-Defensive team selection.
  • The trophy features a player in a classic defensive stance with one hand up and one down, knees bent and ready to move.  

“I am honored to have the opportunity to celebrate the league’s best defensive player each year,” said Olajuwon.  “Great basketball teams are defined by their ability to defend, with every great team connected by an elite defensive anchor.”

Rookie of the Year

What’s New?
  • It’s named in honor of Wilt Chamberlain, who became the first player to ever win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season (1959-60).
  • The trophy features Wilt palming two basketballs at once.

“Wilt rewrote nearly every NBA record throughout his illustrious career, which tipped off with an incredible rookie season that redefined what was possible and set a ceiling as high as he stood for all rookies who have followed,” said Barbara Chamberlain Lewis, Wilt’s sister, and the Chamberlain family.

Sixth Man of the Year

What’s New?
  • Named after John Havlicek, who came off the bench for the first seven seasons of his career and was an All-Star in four of those seasons.
  • The trophy features a player elevated and shooting a running jumper, symbolic of the boost provided by the player to his team.

“John defined what it means to be the ultimate sixth man, with his leadership and stellar play serving as the utmost example of effectively starring in a role for the betterment of the team,” said Beth Havlicek, John’s wife, and the Havlicek family.

Most Improved Player

What’s New?
  • Named after five-time NBA champion George Mikan, who mastered the fundamentals as the NBA’s first dominant big.
  • Don’t forget the famous “Mikan Drill” — a footwork, layup, and rebounding exercise still used today.

“George is one of the best NBA players ever, but perhaps his greatest legacy is the one he has passed down to others through his legendary ‘Mikan Drill,’ providing generations of basketball players around the world with the tools to improve their game,” said his son, Mike Mikan.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a former Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.