Michael Jordan was moments away from lifting the third Most Valuable Player trophy of his career, which ultimately gave him five of those awards. David Stern, then-commissioner of the NBA, gave him some simple but profound words in a half-court ceremony.
Stern told Jordan that night in 1992, “You are simply the standard by which excellence in basketball is measured.”
Now, that statement would seem more true.
The NBA’s Most Valuable Player award has been renamed the Michael Jordan Trophy, the league announced Tuesday. Jordan was named MVP five times, so he has five trophies named after Maurice Podoloff—the first commissioner in league history.
After six decades of giving the trophy that name, the NBA has decided it is time to rename it.
The Jordan Trophy will be 60 cm (23.6 in) tall and weigh 10.7 kg (23.6 lb). The 23 in inches and pounds is a reference to the number worn by Jordan. The fraction 6 symbolizes his six NBA titles, both with the Chicago Bulls.
Instead, the trophy is not an image inspired by Jordan.
The former player and current chairman of the board of the Charlotte Hornets approved of the design, which symbolizes an individual in search of excellence. But Jordan did not want him to have a statue in the award.
He also declined a request for comment from the NBA.
“Anyone should be able to look at it and consider it,” said Mark Smith, who has worked as a designer for Jordan Brand and oversaw the creation of the trophy. “People need to feel the excellence of Michael Jordan and the way he went after it. He has his name, but he doesn’t show it, he shows it to everyone. Be it a boat builder, a teacher, a lawyer or a writer. Who looks at it and says, ‘That’s what I’m trying to do.’
The league has renamed virtually all of its trophies over the past two seasons, and has earned other accolades. As part of Tuesday’s announcement, the NBA revealed that it will award the Jerry West Award for Key Player of the Year, which, as with nearly all other honorees, will be awarded by a media panel vote. NBA coaches will nominate candidates for the award.
Similarly, the Defensive Player of the Year receives the Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy; Rookie of the Year wins the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy; Sixth Man of the Year wins the John Havlicek Trophy and Most Improved Player of the Year wins the George Mikan Trophy.
“Our new collection of trophies celebrates some of the greatest and most influential players in NBA history,” said league commissioner Adam Silver. “As we recognize the best of each season, we also pay tribute to the legends who epitomize these prestigious awards.”