More awards the NBA could give out

Published December 17, 2022, 9:00 AMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

The NBA recently renamed awards and revealed new ones that honor the legends of the league. NBA.com Philippines writer Polo Bustamante has a few fictional ones in mind.

The NBA recently unveiled the new trophy designs for the best performers of the season. The awards are now named after legends who best embody the accolade and feature key design elements patterned after the player. So, the MVP was named the Michael Jordan Trophy, a towering prize with a golden statue of His Airness dunking. 

The NBA also unveiled the Jerry West Trophy, a new award given to the most clutch player of the season. This new gimmick had me thinking of what new awards I can come up with and who are the players I would name the awards after. 

The only criteria I had for naming the awards is that they had to be a champion. Just look at the new names: Jordan, West, Hakeem Olajuwon, George Mikan. All of them are champs. Here are four unique trophies to award the best performers of the seasons.

Bob Cousy Trophy: Awarded to the player whose looks are most deceiving

Remember the scene in Blue Chips where Bob Cousy couldn’t miss a free throw while shooting a scene with Nick Nolte? Nolte’s half-amused, half-surprised face during that scene was probably the same face the rest of the NBA did when Bob Cousy was at his peak.

Back in the ‘50s, basketball was ruled by behemoths. But here was Cousy, barely six feet tall, commandeering the best team in the NBA back then. Throughout his career, he proved his doubters wrong and hung with the big boys. Even at 65 years old back in 1994, when Blue Chips released, Cousy could still get a bucket or 10.

2022 Nominee: Fred VanVleet could pass as a rapper who opens for Drake. He’s short and stocky. Don’t let the frame fool you, though. VanVleet is also an All-Star-worthy hooper.

Larry Bird Trophy: Awarded to the best trash talker

There are a lot of notable trash talkers in the history of the league. There were loud and emphatic players like Charles Barkley or Gary Payton who talked a lot on the court. Then, there’s Larry Bird.

Name another player who would walk into a locker room before a 3-point shootout, ask who’ll come in second, and then proceed to win — while wearing his warmers. He would tell defenders the Celtics’ play and then nail the shot right after. Bird refused to shake hands or would sometimes play entirely left-handed just to demoralize opponents. Bird could talk the trash, but he always backed it up.

2022 Nominee: When Ja Morant dunks on you and pulls out the “too small” celebration, it’s best to just ask your coach to sub you out for a few minutes.

Dwight Howard Trophy: Awarded to the most explosively athletic player

There are dunks. Then there’s Derrick Rose performing mid-air murder. There are fastbreaks. Then there’s John Wall breaking the speed of sound. There are blocks. Then there’s Dwight Howard stealing your lunch.

Don’t let his Taiwan highlights fool you (although those are pretty fun as well). Howard was a specimen at his peak. He was one of the few players who could humiliate anyone who dared to try and attack his defense by snatching their shot right out of the sky. He was dominant in the paint because not only was he bull strong, but he could also out-jump even the tallest defenders. Howard could keep up with perimeter players with his quick feet and active hands. He took on the Superman mantle after Shaquille O’Neal and paved the way for freaks like Giannis Antetokounmpo.

2022 Nominee: It’s safe to say that if this award was real, the Greek Freak would win it every single year until he retires.

Shawn Marion Trophy: Awarded to the best glue guy

Shawn Marion could do it all. Literally.

He was one of the first small-ball power forwards in the league. Even if he only stood at 6’7”, he was able to hold his own in the paint, while still being able to do everything he did well on the perimeter. It was that versatility that proved useful, especially in the latter part of his career when his athleticism was waning.

During his time with the Dallas Mavericks, Marion did everything that was asked of him, playing an important role with the 2011 championship team. He took on the toughest defensive assignments – both bigs and perimeter players. He was a solid screener, an intelligent cutter, and a tough offensive rebounder. Marion took pride in filling in the holes of a team. It didn’t matter if he did it as an All-Star or as a role player.

2022 Nominee: Marcus Smart is learning the ropes of playing point guard while still maintaining his status as Boston’s heart and soul.

Kyle Lowry Trophy: Awarded to the player with the best defensive move

Kyle Lowry in his prime was known as one of the best guards in the league. Interestingly enough, he never led the league in steals, blocks, or even defensive rating during his best years. If there’s one unofficial stat that he probably led the league, it would be charges taken.

Back in the 2019-2020 season, Lowry was known for taking charges. Even if he was a point guard, he somehow found a way to get into the paint, plant his feet outside the curve, and take one on the chest. In fact, during the 2020 All-Star Game, the two charges he took were turned into highlights by several media outlets. Lowry became synonymous with taking charges.

2022 Nominee: If 2021 was the year of the Grand Theft Alvarado, then 2022 belongs to Luke Kornet’s “eclipse” defense.