It's no coincidence that in the same year the NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary, the league is unveiling an ensemble of trophies and awards that will feature new designs and will honor iconic players such as Larry Bird, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson.
During the conference finals, which could begin Sunday or Monday, a standout player will be awarded the first Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP award, and another winner will take home the first Earvin "Magic" Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP award.
Johnson and Bird, both Basketball Hall of Famers who each entered the league in 1979 and whose rivalry helped the NBA explode in popularity over several decades, are logical namesakes for redesigned awards for excellence representing each conference, according to the league.
"Larry and Magic defining the '80s and having that bicoastal relationship representing their conferences like no other two people have," said Christopher Arena, who is the NBA's head of on-court & brand partnerships. "We just thought it was a perfect symmetry as you percolate up to the NBA Finals and you potentially win that Bill Russell trophy, and obviously the winningest player we have in our history."
In addition, the newly designed 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 1971 NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.