The History of The NBA Trophy

Each year, the NBA trophy, which is said to be crafted for six months, is awarded to the finalists of the NBA. It is considered an honor for a team to take home this trophy. Therefore, teams have to put in great effort to emerge victoriously. The trophy is valued at about $13,500 and has many groups and fans alike gushing over it. The winning team gets to keep and display the award in their arena for everyone to see, unlike in the past, when the old trophy had to be passed down. If you want to find out more about its history and the champions that have been awarded this trophy over the years, then keep on reading.


The NBA trophy has been subjected to various changes over the years. From the change in names to a whole new design altogether, this is how much the NBA trophy has evolved.

Previous Design

The NBA trophy was previously known as the NBA Finals trophy but then was renamed after Walter A. Brown in 1964. Walter was the original owner of the Boston Celtics and was responsible for merging the NBA and the BAA. The trophy was used to award BAA/NBA winning teams from 1947 to 1976. It is currently being displayed at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This American History Museum is dedicated to promoting and preserving the history of basketball. The museum is located at 1000 Hall of Fame Avenue, Springfield, Massachusetts. It was the tradition that the winning team would keep the trophy for a year and pass it on to the new winner the following year. The team would only get to keep the award if they maintained their position for two or more consecutive years. The Boston Celtics held on to the trophy the longest as they managed to win this trophy 11 times. Of these eleven times, they won the Walter A. Brown trophy for eight consecutive years.

Current Design

In 1977, a new trophy was designed by Tiffany and Co. at their workshop in Cumberland, Rhode Island. The award depicts a basketball just before it enters the net. Standing about two feet tall, it weighs 16 pounds, made out of sterling silver and vermeil, with a 24-carat gold overlay. Techniques such as silversmithing, chasing, spinning, polishing, and hand engraving were used to craft this iconic piece. The inaugural winners of this new design were the Portland Trail Blazers, who defeated the Philadelphia 79ers in 1977.

In 1984, the trophy was named the Larry O’Brien Championship, after Larry O’Brien, who passed away. He was the NBA commissioner from 1975 to 1984. He also served as the United States Postmaster General between 1965 and 1968, under President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Boston Celtics were the first team to win the renamed trophy in 1984 after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers. This trophy, unlike the last, is not passed down from the previous winner to the current winner. Instead, a new award is presented to the winning team every year and returned to Tiffany and Co. to have the team’s name and year engraved on it.

NBA Finals Champions

The first team to ever make it to the finals was the Philadelphia Warriors. They won for two years in a row in the years 1946 and 1947. Back then, the league used to be known as the Basketball Association of America, BAA. and was changed to the NBA in 1946 following the merger between BAA and NBA. The basketball playoffs comprised a three-stage tournament whereby the two teams who make it to the semifinals go head-to-head in the finals. All NBA championships use a best-of-seven format to determine who gets to be crowned champion.

The Eastern Conference plays against the Western Conference in the finals, and the winner takes the trophy home. However, in 1950, there was an exception to this trend. The winner of the Western and Central conferences went on to face the Eastern division in the finals. The current format, 2-2-1-1-1, used in the NBA finals for home and away games, dictates that the team with a regular-season play on its home court in the first, second, fifth, and seventh game. The winning team gets to go home with the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers have stood out. The former has won the championship 34 times, while the latter has emerged victorious a whopping 74 times since the series started.

Wrap Up

The Larry O’Brien Championship trophy has been compared to the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup. However, it has never been able to surpass it and be equally as prominent. The NBA has made efforts to reduce this discrepancy and promote the NBA trophy to the best of its ability. In 2004, the Detroit Pistons from Michigan won the NBA finals and toured the trophy around this state.  The NBA did this in a bid to attract more recognition for the magnificent trophy. What an honor it must be to have an award named after you!