Bill Russel dominated the NBA in its formative years. Winning 11 titles in his 13 year NBA career between 1956 and 1969. Despite being inarguably the best player on his team each year, he never won a Finals MVP. It was introduced for the last season of Russell’s career. While he would, as usual, lead his Celtics to the title, the Finals MVP award went to his tenacious competitor Jerry West. In 2009 then NBA commissioner David Stern announced that the Finals MVP award would, going forward, be named the “Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award” in honor of the great Celtic himself. Until 2022 this was the only round of the NBA Playoffs that had an MVP award attached to it.
What are the NBA Conference Finals MVPs? In 2022 during the NBAs 75th anniversary celebrations it was announced that there would now be MVP awards given out for the Conference Finals in addition to the Finals MVP award. Fittingly these awards would be named for two of the game’s greats, Larry Bird in the East and Magic Johnson out West.
I’m sure you’ll agree that choosing these two all time greats to carry the honor of these new MVP trophies is very fitting. They are both one franchise players, from each East and West who ignited a failing sport during the 1980’s helping prepare it for Jordan and all that came next. But what are these awards? Who decides who wins them and will they carry weight amongst fans and players alike?
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What is the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP Award?
Officially named the Larry Bird Trophy, the Eastern Conference Finals MVP award was first awarded in 2022 in conjunction with the NBA’s 75th anniversary celebrations. It goes to the player judged to have been most valuable to his team during the Eastern Conference Finals. Named after Larry Legend of the Boston Celtics. The award not only serves to recognise each year’s MVP, but as a reminder to the entire Basketball world of the 3 time champions greatness and service to the NBA and the Eastern Conference specifically.
Bird said of the honor;
“I am very honored to have my name associated with the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals MVP Trophy. I know how tough it is to get to this great milestone of the Eastern Conference Finals and to be named the Most Valuable Player makes it even more special.”
What is the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP Award?
Officially named the Earvin “Magic” Johnson Trophy, the Western Conference Finals MVP award was first awarded in 2022 in conjunction with the NBA’s 75th anniversary celebrations. It goes to the player judged to have been most valuable to his team during the Western Conference Finals. Named after the flamboyant point guard who led the Lakers to 5 NBA Championships, including in his rookie year. The trophy is a reminder to the league that Magic Johnson and Western Conference greatness during his heyday were one and the same.
Johnson said of the honor;
“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. 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.”
Who designed the NBA Conference Finals MVP Trophies?
The NBA collaborated with artist Victor Solomon and Tiffany & Co. on the trophies. These new trophies, as well as an update to the famous Larry O’brien Trophy and additional East and Western Conference Championship Trophies were commissioned and unveiled at the same time. Tiffany & Co. has designed and manufactured the Larry O’Brien Trophy since 1977. The new NBAtrophies themselves all have space for 25 winners to be engraved, bringing the NBA up nicely for a 100th anniversary rebrand. Will Lebron still be in his peak?
Who votes on the NBA Conference Finals MVP?
Will the NBA conference Finals MVP awards carry weight with players?
Players will always play down their desire to win an individual award publicly. Especially when you get that close to winning a title, the team bond is strong. Like the Finals MVP trophy, over time they will come to be adored and loved by players. Iconic moments will be created with the early winners and a new generation of NBA stars will grow up with these videos and photos and set their own personal goals on emulating their heroes. It may take time, but like the men they are named for, they will become legendary.
Will the NBA conference Finals MVP awards carry weight with fans?
Like all things, these awards will create debate in the media, in bars, in living rooms and in the stands. Who is really deserving, should it only be a player from the winning team that wins it. The debate will rage. So yes, yes I think they will carry weight with fans, because after all, isn’t debate the best part of pro sports?