NBA unveils new trophies honoring Bird, Magic

It’s no coincidence that in the same year the NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary, the league is unveiling a set of trophies and awards that will feature new designs and honor iconic players such as Larry Bird, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson.

In the Conference Finals, which could begin on Sunday or Monday, a standout player will receive the inaugural Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP award, and another winner will earn the inaugural Western Conference Finals MVP award. Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Johnson and Bird, both Basketball Hall of Famers who entered the league in 1979 and whose rivalry helped the NBA explode in popularity for several decades, are the logical namesakes of the revamped merit awards representing each conference, according to the league.

“Larry and Magic define the ’80s and have this bicoastal relationship representing their conferences like no other person has,” said Christopher Arena, NBA’s head of on-court partnerships and brand. “We just thought it was perfect symmetry as you head into the NBA Finals and potentially win that Bill Russell trophy, and obviously the winningest player in our history.”

Additionally, the new Eastern Conference championship trophy will now be named after Cousy, a point guard who won six NBA championships with the Boston Celtics. The updated Western Conference championship trophy will be named after Robertson, a point guard who won the NBA championship in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Robertson and Cousy are honored for their contributions on the court as well as the impact they had as the first presidents of the National Basketball Players Association. Similar to the original trophies created in 2001, the Eastern and Western Conference champion trophies each lift a silver basketball.

“We considered potential namesakes, and we landed on these four [former players] for what we thought were pretty obvious reasons,” Arena said.

The newly named trophies aren’t the only changes the league has introduced this post-season, as redesigns appear on other trophies as well, thanks to an ongoing collaboration with Los Angeles-based designer Victor Solomon, Tiffany & Co. and the league.

The NBA Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, which was introduced in 1977 and named after O’Brien in 1984, also gets a facelift. The updated version will feature a new circular base that will include the engraved names of all past NBA champions as well as changes to the appearance of the basketball at the top of the trophy and the trophy column, which features a basket of golden basketball.

The Bill Russell Finals MVP Award trophy received a similar update. While the silhouettes of the Conference Finals trophies won’t change too drastically, both will have refreshed appearances ahead of this year’s Championship Series, which is set to begin as early as Sunday.

Also earlier this season, the league launched new award-winning trophies honoring Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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