The NBA has awarded the same championship trophy since 1975. Originally named after Boston Celtics founder Walter A. Brown, the golden basketball and net was renamed for former NBA commissioner Larry O’Brien in 1984 and has remained unchanged for nearly four decades. But on Thursday, the NBA unveiled a newly redesigned version of the O’Brien trophy that it will use moving forward. The changes are subtle, but include the following:
- The ball has been shifted forward on the net, “symbolizing the league looking ahead to its future,” the league revealed in a press release.
- Sterling silver accents were added to accentuate the channels of the ball and the net.
- The base has been reformed around two disks. The top disk will list the team names of the first 75 NBA champions. The second will include the names of each successive champion starting this season.
The championship trophy wasn’t the only one to receive a redesign, though. The Finals MVP trophy, which had previously had a gold ball and silver net, will now be almost entirely gold with silver accents. The two conference championship trophies have received similar updates. The ball for both will be silver while the base will be black and gold. The Eastern Conference championship trophy has been renamed for Celtics legend Bob Cousy, while the Western Conference championship trophy has been renamed for Hall of Fame Oscar Robertson.
“I have been part of the NBA family since 1950 and among the greatest joys of my post-playing career has been watching the game continue to evolve into what it is today,” said Cousy. “There are few greater achievements in sports than representing your conference in the NBA Finals, and I’m moved that the NBA has granted me the honor of being connected to the Eastern Conference champions for years to come.”
In addition to the redesigns, the league has also introduced two new awards this season. The most valuable player of the Eastern Conference Finals will be awarded the Larry Bird Trophy, and the most valuable player of the Western Conference Finals will be awarded the Magic Johnson trophy. The awards are fittingly named after the pair of players who, between them, participated in every single NBA Finals held during the 1980s.
“The NBA Conference Finals represent the last hurdle a team must face for an opportunity to make it to the big stage, the NBA Finals,” said Johnson. “I’m truly honored to have my name memorialized on the Western Conference Finals Most Valuable Player Trophy. This player excels on both ends of the court, makes his teammates better and leads his team to the greatest stage in basketball.”
This is the NBA’s 75th anniversary season, and as such, it wanted to make a statement in how it honors the best of this season’s playoffs. These updates and trophies certainly do just that.