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NBA Renaming Awards to Honor Legends

Sports

The Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award will now be named after Michael Jordan | Image by NBA

After several remodels of league-wide honors and trophies, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has decided to rename more of its awards to honor Hall of Famers.

On Tuesday, the league announced the Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, and Most Improved player honors are being revamped.

The Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award will now be named after Michael Jordan, one of (if not THE) best basketball players of all time. MJ won six NBA championships with the Bulls, even after briefly leaving the team to pursue a baseball career.

Jordan is tied with Celtics great Bill Russell for the second-most MVPs in a career with five. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record with six.

The Defensive Player of the Year Award will be named after legendary center Hakeem Olajuwon. Although there were other players to win the award more often, Olajuwon is commonly considered the prototypical defensive big man.

He played 18 years in the NBA, won back-to-back NBA Championships with the Houston Rockets, and was the first player ever to win regular season MVP, NBA Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.

The Rookie of the Year Award will honor Wilt Chamberlain. As a rookie in 1959, Chamberlain won the Rookie of the Year Award and made the All-Star team while averaging 37.6 points per game and 27 rebounds. He is also one of just two rookies to win the league’s MVP Award.

Chamberlain became a 13-time All-Star and four-time MVP while averaging 30 points per game. He is one of the most successful 7-footers in league history and still holds the record for points in a single game after scoring 100 against the New York Knicks in 1962.

The Sixth Man of the Year Award will be named after John Havlicek, who made his career as a sixth man– making four All-Star appearances in seven years off the bench for the Boston Celtics. He made 13 total All-Star games, won eight NBA titles, and was named the 1974 NBA Finals MVP.

Lakers legend George Mikan will be honored through the Most Improved Player Award. Mikan won five championships with the Lakers when the team was based in Minneapolis in the early 1950s and is considered the NBA’s first-star big man. He was once cut from his high school basketball team, yet he continued to become a legendary player who greatly impacted basketball.

A layup drill is named after Mikan, and his style of play forced the lane to be widened in 1951.

Additionally, the NBA has announced a new award: the Jerry West Clutch Player of the Year. West is already enshrined in NBA lore as the silhouette on the league logo. The NBA has become a league that focuses on individual players more than others, and this award further emphasizes individual performances.

The annual winners of these awards are typically announced in May.

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