The NBA announced widespread changes to their annual individual awards on Tuesday, debuting new trophies along with new names for each respective honor. The highlight of the remodeled awards was The Michael Jordan Trophy for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
The Lakers, though, were well-represented in the host of renamed trophies. A trio of franchise legends had awards named after them in Jerry West, George Mikan and Wilt Chamberlain.
The Jerry West Trophy is the only newly-created award for the Kia NBA Clutch Player of the Year. It’s a very largely subjective award without any clear criteria outside of the NBA’s explanation:
Voted on by a media panel based on nominations from NBA head coaches, the award will honor the NBA player who best comes through for his teammates in the clutch.
Surely that won’t cause much debate!
For those that might be wondering why this isn’t the Kobe Bryant Trophy, the league did rename the All-Star MVP award after Kobe and it’s unlikely they wanted to double-dip when it came to naming multiple trophies after one player. And in defense of West, he did have the nickname “Mr. Clutch” from his playing days, so it’s not unwarranted.
The Wilt Chamberlain Trophy will be the new honor for the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year. It’s an apropos honor considering Chamberlain averaged 37.6 points and 27.0 rebounds in 46.4 minutes per game as a rookie in the NBA. As with every Wilt stat, that is truly mind-boggling stuff.
The George Mikan Trophy will be the award for the Kia NBA Most Improved Player of the Year. It’s an odd award that doesn’t have much statistical basis as Mikan came into the league from day one and dominated, scoring 28.3 points and 11.5 rebounds in his rookie season. And it wasn’t like Mikan came in as an unheralded prospect as he was a prolific scorer and player at DePaul in college.
If nothing else, it does serve to honor one of the pioneers of the league. Not only did Mikan dominate and win titles as a player — accomplishments of which the Lakers honored him for by retiring his jersey this season — he also served as the commissioner of the ABA, a league that invented the 3-point line.
The Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy will go to the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the John Havlicek Trophy will be awarded to the Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year and the league will have a new trophy for the GM of the Year, though that award has no name yet.