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The NBA Just Dropped a New MVP Trophy That’s Inspired by—But Doesn’t Look Like—Michael Jordan

The bronze sculpture contains subtle design details that pay homage to the Hall of the Famer's career.

The Michael Jordon Trophy NBA

One of the greatest basketball players to ever do it now has a namesake trophy that measures up—quite literally—to his illustrious career.

The NBA debuted the Michael Jordan Trophy on Tuesday as its redesigned MVP trophy, and while it doesn’t use Jordan’s likeness, it does include a number of subtle nods to his time in the league. During the nine-month design process, the Hall of Famer asked explicitly that the bronze sculpture not be a direct representation of him, The Washington Post reported.

He “wanted the player who wins this trophy to think about his own journey,” Christopher Arena, the NBA exec who oversaw the redesign, told the Post. “His vision was that the player who wins this would see his own hard work reflected in the trophy, not just a statue of Michael Jordan.”

But the trophy pays homage to Jordan in more than just name only. It weighs 23.6 pounds and stands at 23.6 inches tall, influenced by Jordan’s No. 23 jersey and his six championship rings. With that same inspiration, the trophy’s player reaches for a 23-sided crystal basketball and the nameplate features six sides. Even the base of the trophy hints at Jordan’s legacy: The black stand has five sides (Jordan has five MVP awards) and it descends at a 15-degree angle (Jordan had a 15-year career with the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards).

All of those details make for a fitting tribute to the baller, but the trophy is also meant to honor all of its recipients, past and present. To that end, the figure has a subtle color gradient, with the upper body being lighter and brighter than the lower body. Victor Solomon, the LA-based artist who will manufacture the trophy, told The Washington Post that the coloring is meant to represent the struggles that MVPs overcome during their careers.

“This hand-burnished gradient technique takes it from that rough grittiness, to symbolize where the player came from, to the warm tone at the top,” Solomon said. “As you go up the form, the figure becomes more finely tuned and more formally realized. This is the journey from rawness into excellence as they’re reaching up for the diamond ball.”

The Michael Jordan Trophy is just the latest in the NBA’s redesign of its awards. Earlier this year, Tiffany & Co. debuted a revamped Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, alongside a handful of other post-season awards. Michael Jordan himself will receive his original namesake trophy, while the Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić will be the first active player to receive the new award. Maybe one day he’ll be going home with his own namesake sculpture, too.

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