The NBA's regular season most valuable player trophy is getting a rebrand.
And, fittingly, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan is at the center of it.
Early Tuesday morning, the league announced that it is renaming its trophy for the annual award "The Michael Jordan Trophy," an homage to one who many consider the greatest basketball player of all time.
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As part of a Hall of Fame career, Jordan won regular season MVP five times, tied with Bill Russell for second all-time behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's six (the NBA's Finals MVP trophy is named after Russell in a nod to his 11 championship rings).
Jordan also achieved six NBA titles, six Finals MVPs, 11 All-NBA selections, 14 All-Star selections, three All-Star MVPs, 10 scoring titles, one Defensive Player of the Year award, and Rookie of the Year honors across 15 decorated seasons.
Mark Smith — retired VP of Innovation Special Projects at Nike and a Jordan Brand designer — worked in collaboration with Jordan to design the new trophy, which not only tributes Jordan in multiple minute ways, but also is intended to symbolize a player's journey to attain MVP status.
The trophy depicts the latter by displaying a bronze figure breaking free from a rock and holding a crystal basketball high in the air. Scan the trophy from bottom to top, and notice it becomes more polished as it goes, signifying the hard work that led to the victorious player's rise from rookie to MVP.
As for the tributes to Jordan? There are several.
For one, the trophy stands exactly 23.6 inches tall, references to Jordan's jersey number (23) and six NBA championships. The number 23 also pops up in the number of points on the crystal ball, and the 1.23-inch diameter of the ball. Meanwhile, the base of the trophy has five sides, for Jordan's five MVP awards; the badge on the base has six sides — again, for Jordan's six titles; and the angle of the base is precisely 15 degrees for the 15 NBA seasons he played.
“I’m incredibly honored to have created the NBA’s MVP Trophy in partnership with Michael Jordan. Sculpting Michael’s vision of his own pursuit of athletic achievement into this award has been the opportunity and challenge of a lifetime,” Smith said in a statement.
“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.”
The NBA's regular season MVP trophy had been named after Maurice Podoloff, the league's first commissioner, since it was first given out following the 1955-56 season. As part of a broader campaign to refurbish the NBA's slate of trophies, Podoloff's name was recently attached to a new trophy that will be annually awarded to the team that finishes with the best regular season record.
And, from now on, Jordan's name will be synonymous with the league's pinnacle regular season achievement.