Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is widely considered the greatest ever basketball player. In this picture, former U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former NBA star Jordan during an East Room ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 22, 2016. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor for civilians in the United States of America. Alex Wong/Getty Images


  • Michael Jordan's exploits on the court led to the NBA naming the regular season MVP award after him
  • However, the trophy bears no resemblance to him and was revealed to be Jordan's directive
  • "The player should see themselves in this, not me," Jordan told trophy designer Mark Smith

Before the calendar turned to 2023, the NBA revealed that it had revamped its end-of-season player awards in order to honor the legends that came before as they all bore the resemblance of the NBA legend named after the specific award–save for one.

It was a hot topic among most fans as to why the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award bore the name of Chicago Bulls star and NBA great Michael Jordan, but not his face nor any other instantly recognizable nod to him.

The decision not to do so apparently came from the Charlotte Hornets owner himself as told by Jordan Brand designer and retired vice president of innovation and special projects at Nike, Mark Smith, to the Charlotte Observer.

Smith mentioned that he was approached by Jordan on a special project that turned out to be the remodeled MVP trophy and the NBA icon wanted to have the attention solely on the player who won it and not on who it was named after.

"He was really keen on saying, 'Look, what's the name of the award? It's the Michael Jordan Most Valuable Player award for the NBA. That says it all. No matter what's on top. That's really it.' It's a universal theme of reaching for the stars. It's literally at the top, at the peak moment and there's literally nowhere up to go. You are literally at the zenith of your motion," Smith said of their discussions about the design.

"This is straight out of his language, 'The player should see themselves in this, not me.' When he said 'not me,' it clicked right away."

The finished product would turn out to be the most intricately designed of them all and was worthy of being a major award in a player's career as it had subtle nods to Jordan's undeniable greatness on the court.

Though Jordan appeared to have a leg up on the highly-subjective "Greatest of All-Time" conversations with the league deciding to name the trophy after him, he never wanted to be seen as the NBA "GOAT."

YouTuber AMHoops dug up an old interview of Jordan wherein he explicitly mentioned that he did not want the label because it "disrespects Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West–all the guys that prior to me I never had a chance to play against."

Jordan's statement does ring true since "GOAT" conversations do not have specific criteria to be met and are solely made up by the fans to compare different generations and eras of basketball in what inevitably turns into a popularity contest.

The six-time NBA champion's desire to put over whoever wins the MVP Trophy ironically makes him one of the greatest of all time.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan praised James Harden and Russell Westbrook for their recent achievements. In this picture, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, watches on during their game against the Chicago Bulls at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, Nov. 3, 2015. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images