Kobe Bryant NBA All-Star MVP trophy redesigned to honor late legend

Artist Victor Solomon had an overwhelming task: redesign the Kobe Bryant NBA All-Star MVP Award trophy.

“It was impossibly daunting,” Solomon told USA TODAY Sports. “I live here in L.A. and Kobe’s impact I feel every day, and that would be a lot of pressure. The stakes were really high because of that and honoring his legacy and his history with the All-Star Game and the league at large. But you do what you do to tell the story that you feel will honor that legacy.”

With the idea of storytelling prominent in his mind, Solomon began sketching ideas.

“It starts with a little chicken scratch in my notebook and it works its way from there,” he said. “The processes is very organic continuing in that kind of hippie energy, and as the process evolves, it will speak to you and what it needs and validate how it feels.”

The result: a Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award that is rich with symbolism and honors Bryant’s NBA legacy, including his All-Star bona fides.

— The eight-sided base acknowledges Bryant’s No. 8, and the 18 stars around the base represent his 18 All-Star selections.

— Another 24 stars pays tribute to his No. 24, and another 10 stars are a nod to the No. 10 he wore for USA Basketball.

— On the third level of the trophy, five stars account for the unity of an NBA team and Bryant’s five NBA titles.

— The fourth level has one star that honors Bryant’s 2007-08 MVP season, and the final inches of the trophy honors Bryant’s two NBA Finals MVP awards.

— The four levels of the trophy also pay tribute to Bryant’s four All-Star MVPs.

Christopher Arena, the NBA’s head of on-court and brand partnerships, explained the NBA had recently created two new leagues (Basketball Africa League, NBA2K), and, “as we were going through those projects, inevitably, the conversation of trophies came up, and we work with various designers to develop trophies for those different leagues. And so trophies were on our mind,” he said.

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“We started working with our communications group who handles the bulk of the NBA trophies and just talked about, ‘Hey, maybe there’s something we should do here,’ ” Arena said. “Victor had come on board through our licensing team as having interest as an artist to explore trophies.”

The league also redesigned other All-Star weekend trophies for the dunk contest, 3-point contest, skills challenge and Rising Stars MVP. The NBA had been using some of the same All-Star trophies for more than 30 years.

The new All-Star MVP trophy, which the league renamed in honor of Bryant at the 2020 All-Star weekend in Chicago just weeks after Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash, will grab the attention of fans and players.

“Something we’ve been talking about that we’re really excited about is I feel like the players will have a little extra motivation not only with the namesake, but to be the winner of the first one,” Solomon said. “I think it will be really special.”

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kobe Bryant NBA All-Star MVP trophy redesigned to honor legend


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