The NBA looks to shake things up with a new award-giving format in the conference finals. Champions of each conference will receive a trophy bearing a new name as well as the best player in that series as Finals MVP. Is this new format the right move to make things more exciting?
Conference trophies, MVPs to be given out
The NBA named the Eastern Conference Finals MVP after Larry Bird, while the Western Conference Finals MVP was named after Magic Johnson. It’s a great way to pay tribute to these two legendary players whose rivalry made the league more famous during their time. The NBA continued its nostalgic trip with the Conference Finals trophies now named after Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson for the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively.
After learning about the news, Bird couldn’t help but respond.
"I wish I could one of them Magic Johnson trophies, that'd be the highlight of my career."
Of course, that would only happen if he played for the Western Conference. Magic, for his part, was also appreciative of the gesture from the NBA.
“Thank you to the @NBA for naming the new Western Conference Finals MVP trophy after me. I am extremely honored and the trophy is beautiful!”
Now that the NBA will award the best players during the Conference Finals, let’s talk about the frontrunners.
Who will likely win Larry Bird and Magic Johnson trophies?
The usual names are playing exceptional basketball in the second round of the playoffs. Since there’s still no landslide winner among all teams playing in the 2nd round, with each series bearing a 3-2 card, let’s mention who would likely win it for each team if they advance to the Conference Finals.
Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic
Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker
Golden State Warriors: Jordan Poole
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant
Morant is currently out, and it remains to be seen if he would play if Memphis reaches the conference finals. The names mentioned above could play poorly during the Conference Finals, so it’s still not a guarantee. The good thing is that a role player could have a breakout series and win the Conference Finals MVP, which would make it exciting and unpredictable.
Some fans might say the Conference Finals MVP will only dilute the significance of regular-season MVP and Finals MVP. Others think it might have been created so players who lose out on the regular-season MVP in a tight contest like Embiid could be given the award he deserves. Nevertheless, it’s a good move on the part of the NBA to get fans talking and add new things to keep up with the changing times.