NBA rebrands awards: Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy for best defensive player among renamed honors

The league also renamed the award presented to its most valuable player as the Michael Jordan Trophy.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Things you probably didn't know about Hakeem Olajuwon
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Things you probably didn't know about Hakeem Olajuwon

NEW YORK, New York (KTRK) -- Defense wins championships, and no player in the NBA embodied that cliché more than Houston Rockets legend, Hakeem Olajuwon.

The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, who also won two world championships with the Rockets, will have his name attached to the award beginning after this current season, the league announced on Tuesday.

A photo released by the NBA shows the Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy as a crystal-sculpted basket that encases a player in gold in a classic defensive stance.

Olajuwon, who is also a Pro Basketball Hall of Famer and a former league MVP, expressed gratitude to having the award name after him.

The video above is from 2017.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to celebrate the league's best defensive player each year," Olajuwon said. "Great basketball teams are defined by their ability to defend, with every great team connected by an elite defensive anchor."

And No. 34 was indeed elite. He's the NBA's all-time leader in blocked shots and ranks ninth in steals.

The Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy is one piece of hardware introduced Tuesday in a league-wide rebranding of year-end honors, including the John Havlicek Sixth Man and the George Mikan Most Improved Player awards.

The rebranding was headlined by the Most Valuable Player award, which will be symbolized by the Michael Jordan Trophy.

The NBA is also attaching names to division and conference championships, as well as the conference finals MVP honors, which debuted last season.

Houston will be competing yearly for the Willis Reed Trophy, which goes to the Southwest Division winner. The Oscar Robertson Trophy goes to the Western Conference Finals winner. The MVP in the West Finals will be awarded with the Magic Johnson Trophy.

Here is the complete list of awards after the rebranding:

Regular-season individual awards

  • NBA MVP: The Michael Jordan Trophy
  • Clutch Player of the Year: The Jerry West Trophy
  • Defensive Player of the Year: The Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy
  • Rookie of the Year: The Wilt Chamberlain Trophy
  • Sixth Man of the Year: The John Havlicek Trophy
  • Most Improved Player of the Year: The George Mikan Trophy
  • Sportsmanship Award: The Joe Dumars Trophy
  • Coach of the Year: The Red Auerbach Trophy

All-Star Game and championship finals awards

  • All-Star Game MVP: The Kobe Bryant Trophy
  • Eastern Conference Championship: The Bob Cousy Trophy
  • Western Conference Championship: The Oscar Robertson Trophy
  • East Finals MVP: The Larry Bird Trophy
  • West Finals MVP: The Magic Johnson Trophy
  • NBA Championship: The Larry O'Brien Trophy
  • NBA Finals MVP: The Bill Russell Trophy

Division championship awards

  • Atlantic: The Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton Trophy
  • Central: The Wayne Embry Trophy
  • Southeast: The Earl Lloyd Trophy
  • Southwest: The Willis Reed Trophy
  • Northwest: The Sam Jones Trophy
  • Pacific: The Chuck Cooper Trophy