Larry Bird hasn’t set foot on an NBA court as a player in 30 years. Yet his legacy as an NBA legend remains infallible even to this day. The league confirmed as much with its most recent development. On May 12, 2022, the NBA announced that they will be handing out Most Valuable Player Awards to the winners of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. Not only that, but they will also name both awards after two of the league’s greatest players.
While the Western Conference Finals MVP will be named after Magic Johnson because of his success as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Eastern Conference Finals MVP will be named after Bird because of his success as a player with the Boston Celtics. According to Christopher Arena, the NBA’s Head of On-Court and Brand Partnerships, the league made this decision because they wanted their trophies to have meaning behind them.
We wanted to explore and start a new 75 years and bring some aesthetic consistency to that and have some meaning behind all the trophies we had.
The league chose Bird and Johnson specifically not just because of their legacies as players but because their play together brought the NBA’s popularity to new heights in the 1980s, which saved the league from insolvency issues they had previously faced.
Larry Bird Reacts to the Latest Development
Shortly after the NBA made this change, the league contacted Bird himself to let him know about the Conference Finals MVP awards being named after him and Johnson. The league caught Bird’s reaction on camera, to which he immediately made a snarky remark specifically about Johnson’s trophy.
I just wish I could win one of them Magic Johnson trophies. That would be a highlight of my career!
Despite being rivals on the court during their playing days, Bird’s close friendship with Magic has been well-documented over the years, so Bird’s remarks are simply a friendly jab. However, knowing Larry’s competitive spirit, there was probably a hint of seriousness in his joke.
Another Celtics Legend Gets Trophy Named After Him
While the Most Valuable Player Trophy in the Eastern Conference Finals will be named after Larry Bird, it appears he wasn’t the only Celtic to get a trophy named after him in this recent development.
The NBA announced that the NBA Conference Finals Trophies will also have NBA legends named after them. While the Western Conference Finals Trophy will be named after Oscar Robertson, best known for his work with the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks. The Eastern Conference Finals Trophy on the other hand will be named after Celtics legend Bob Cousy.
Cousy, commonly recognized as one of the NBA’s pioneer point guards, won six NBA championships with the Celtics as well as one MVP award in 1957. He was named to 13 NBA All-Star teams and 10 All-NBA First Teams, which all contributed to his number being retired by Boston on October 26, 1963. He was also the first president of the National Basketball Players Association.
Cousy and Bird join Bill Russell as Celtics legends who have an NBA trophy named after them. Russell had the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award named after him from 2009 onward.