Basketball’s ultimate prize is back up for grabs.
The Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat will square off in the 2023 NBA Finals for a chance to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The league’s championship trophy has evolved over the years. From its name to its design, here is a crash course on the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Who is Larry O’Brien?
Lawrence “Larry” O’Brien started in politics before making it to professional sports. He served as a postmaster general, a special assistant to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson during their presidencies and was the national chairman of the Democratic Party.
O’Brien became NBA commissioner in 1975 and held onto the role for nine years before David Stern took over in 1984. During O’Brien’s tenure, the league adopted the 3-point shot and expanded from 18 to 23 teams.
He died in September 1990 at 73 years old.
When was the NBA Finals trophy named after Larry O’Brien?
The NBA’s original championship trophy was named after Walter Brown and had a completely different design.
NBA President Walter Kennedy and John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics pose with the Walter Brown Memorial trophy circa 1969 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Credit: NBA Photo Library/NBAE via Getty Images
The league changed the trophy design for the 1976-77 season but kept it named after Brown through the 1983 Finals. The trophy was named after O’Brien starting with the 1984 Finals and has kept the title ever since.
How tall is the Larry O’Brien Trophy?
The Larry O’Brien Trophy stands 25.5 inches tall.
How much does the Larry O’Brien Trophy weigh?
The trophy weighs around 30 pounds.
Did the NBA redesign the Larry O’Brien Trophy?
The NBA unveiled a slight evolution to the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2022 as part of a wider overhaul to its end-of-year awards. Three key differences include:
The net and ball configuration were shifted forward to symbolize “the league looking ahead to its future.”
The 24K gold vermeil was masked to unveil sterling silver that highlights the ball and net.
The base was reconfigured to include two discs. The top disc lists the first 75 NBA champions with the next 25 champions going on the second disc. The 2021-22 Golden State Warriors were the first team to get their name etched into the bottom disc.
Here is a side-by-side look at the older version of the Larry O’Brien Trophy compared to the updated one:
A look at the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2021 and 2022. Credit: Getty Images
Who designs the Larry O’Brien Trophy?
Tiffany & Co. has designed and manufactured the trophy for the NBA since 1977.
Do teams get to keep the Larry O’Brien Trophy?
The NBA started allowing teams to keep the championship trophy when it redesigned the award for the 1977 Finals. The league had a new trophy made each year so that the champions could take ownership of their prize.