Almost two years since NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced just before the 2020 NBA All-Star Game that the game’s MVP trophy would be renamed after the late Kobe Bryant, the league on Thursday announced a redesigned trophy for the award. The new trophy contains several tributes to the Lakers legend and his career throughout its design.
The NBA collaborated with Los Angeles-based artist Victor Solomon to redesign the awards hardware for its All-Star festivities, including the Rising Stars game, three-point contest, slam-dunk contest, skills competition and even the celebrity game. But the highlight of the collection is a massive multi-layered trophy jam-packed with homages to Bryant’s 20-year, Hall-of-Fame Lakers career.
For instance, the trophy has an eight-sided base in honor of Bryant’s first jersey number with the Lakers, surrounded by 18 stars to reflect the number of All-Star selections in his career. The trophy’s first layer contains 24 stars for Kobe’s other jersey number, while its second contains 10 stars to reflect the number of Bryant’s All-Star Game starts as well as his USA Basketball jersey number. The third layer has five stars for Bryant’s five NBA championships, and the top layer is a single star itself to reflect his 2008 NBA MVP, the only one of Bryant’s career.
Additionally, the heights of the base and first three layers are two, seven, nine and eleven inches respectively, reflecting the years — 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011 — in which Bryant won the All-Star MVP award that now bears his name. Bryant, a stickler for detail who once detected that a rim was a quarter of an inch too low during a game, would surely appreciate the attention to the little touches.
Solomon, a Boston-born, lifelong Celtics fan, told Andrew Grief of the L.A. Times that he still considered the Lakers legend a muse as Solomon built a reputation for crafting basketball imagery out of luxurious materials, such as the diamond-studded basketball hoop and net on the front page of his website.
Bryant remains an inspiration to Solomon, according to the Times:
“Despite my Celtics fandom, I had always respected Kobe and adopted the Lakers as my L.A. team, my new home court,” he said. “Kobe’s presence is with me, always. Every street corner has a mural. There’s always some reference to him. So as we started embarking on this one in particular, the stakes felt really high. And, you know, we were very mindful of what we could do to celebrate what was such an iconic figure, while also building some unique storytelling.
Solomon’s style is well reflected throughout the new NBA All-Star trophy collection, such as the 24-Karat gold miniature basketball embedded into each individual competition trophy, as well as the Rising Stars MVP trophy.
In addition to The Kobe Bryant Trophy, the following NBA All-Star events will crown their respective champion or MVP with a newly designed trophy:— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) February 3, 2022
AT&T Slam Dunk Champion
MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest Champion
Taco Bell Skills Challenge Champion
Clorox Rising Stars MVP https://t.co/t0LzP552yF pic.twitter.com/kDhYJlAYmO
Unfortunately, no member of Bryant’s former team will likely be able to take home the new trophy bearing his name this year. LeBron James, likely to be the only Laker named to the 2022 NBA All-Star game, is currently dealing with swelling in his knee with no timetable for return.
Given the 37-year-old’s importance to the Lakers this season, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine a scenario where James is healthy enough to risk re-injury in an All-Star game, despite his status as a team captain ubiquitous presence at the event throughout his own future Hall-of-Fame career.