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NBA to Rename Regular Season Awards

Among the honors includes the Michael Jordan MVP Award.

Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets - Game Three Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The NBA is gearing up for a change by naming their annual regular season awards after pantheon great legends.

ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry broke the news via Twitter, listing out the awards slated for a redesign:

Among the awards listed are the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, and 6th Man of the Year honors.

The top individual award — the Most Valuable Player — will be named after Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls great was a recipient of the award five times, trailing only six-time winner Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Defensive Player of the Year award will carry Hakeem Olajuwon’s name. For his career, the Houston Rockets center won the coveted trophy twice, in the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons. In his first award winning campaign, he led the league with 4.2 blocked shots per game. His 3.1 blocks per game career average trails only Mark Eaton and Manute Bol all-time.

The Rookie of the Year award will be commemorated to Wilt Chamberlain. The Philadelphia Warriors rookie averaged 37.6 points and 27.0 rebounds per game — both of which led the league and stand as rookie season records. His 27.0 rebounds per game mark was 0.2 rebounds shy of the NBA all-time record — a record that he owns from his sophomore campaign.

The titular Most Improved Player — George Mikan — grew his game over the first three seasons of his career. Beginning in the National Basketball League, he boasted 16.1 points per game as a rookie, before ascending to 21.3 points per game as a second-year player. He once again improved his scoring average from his second to third seasons, this time to 28.3 points per game in a league-leading effort that culminated in a championship.

John Havlicek was selected for the 6th Man of the Year award redesign. Though the award was established by the league in the 1982-83 season — six years after his retirement — Havlicek was a pillar of the Boston Celtics’ championship core of the 1960s and 70s. He was known for his clutch shot-making ability, basketball IQ, and midrange proficiency as the premier bench player of his era.

New to the award assembly is the Clutch Award, which will be named after Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Jerry West. Nicknamed “Mr. Clutch,” West had four buzzer-beaters in his career, and owned a reputation for narrowing leads and finishing over multiple defenders.

Absent from the host of awards being reimagined is the Coach of the Year award. This mass redesign comes on the heels of the establishment of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals MVP awards that were instituted at the tail end of the 2022 postseason. The namesakes for both awards are Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, respectively.