Throughout his illustrious career, Jordan was awarded five MVP trophies second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who has won six.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement regarding the renaming of the awards and how it honors some of the league’s most iconic players.
“Our new collection of trophies celebrates some of the greatest and most impactful players in the history of the NBA,” Silver’s statement read. “As we recognize the league’s top performers each season, we also pay tribute to the legends who embody these prestigious awards.”
Along with the new name, the trophy also has a new design. Crafted by Jordan brand designer Mark Smith, the trophy stands 23.6 inches tall, weighs 23.6 pounds and the base is six-sided as “a nod to Jordan’s six NBA championships while the base of the trophy has a 15-degree angle as a tribute to Jordan’s 15-season career.
Although Jordan was flattered by the honor, he did want the new trophy to bear his likeness.
"He was really keen on saying, 'Look, what's the name of the award?' It's the Michael Jordan Most Valuable Player award for the NBA. That says it all. No matter what's on top. That's really it," Smith said via the Charlotte Observer.
According to Smith, Jordan wanted the trophy to be aspirational for all NBA players and not just an award with his image.
"This is straight out of his language, 'The player should see themselves in this, not me,'" Smith said. "When he said 'not me' it clicked right away. I said, 'OK, this is a universal theme. This isn't a man in a uniform. This is a human form reaching for that.' And the story of raw-to-refined really became how to bring all that together. That was a great challenge. It was a fabulous challenge."
In addition to the Michael Jordan MVP Trophy, the Clutch Player of the Year award, which will be given to “the NBA player who best comes through for his teammates in the clutch '' is named after Lakers great Jerry West. Other rebranded trophies included the Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy for Defensive Player of the Year, the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy for Rookie of the Year, the John Havlicek Trophy for Sixth Man of the Year, and the George Mikan Trophy for Most Improved Player of the Year.
In 2020, the NBA renamed the All-Star Game MVP after Kobe Bryant in honor of his passing and the NBA’s social justice award is named after Abdul-Jabbar.
Since 2009, the Finals MVP trophy has been named after Celtics legend Bill Russell who won 11 NBA championships.