Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

The Story Behind Sports Most Iconic Trophies

Posted on August 24, 2013 by Anna McCarthy
The Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup

Every year athletes across the globe compete for iconic championships and the trophies that come with them. Here is a look at some of the best known trophies in sports.

Stanley Cup
This coveted trophy is awarded each year to the National Hockey League’s winner of the Stanley Cup Finals. It is so iconic that the men presenting the trophy wear white gloves. Unlike many trophies that are made specifically for a championship team each year, this trophy is passed onto the next winner from year to year. Named after Lord Stanley of Preston, then Governor General of Canada in 1893, the Stanley Cup has been held high above the heads of hockey champions for many generations.

The five bands forming the trophy’s base have special significance. Each player’s name for the winning team is inscribed on the lowest band. Once the band becomes full, the oldest band, located at the top of the base, is removed and placed on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

NBA Championship Trophy
Many may not know that the NBA Trophy is actually called the Larry O”Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Don’t recognize the name? Many don’t. A number of years ago, professional basketball was struggling to make a name for itself. If it weren’t for the efforts of then commissioner of basketball Larry O’Brien, the NBA may not ever have become the widely known professional sport it is today. During the mid 1970’s and into the 80’s, Larry O’Brien made a number of gutsy decisions that have ultimately led to the NBA we cherish today.

The trophy stands two feet tall and weighs in at nearly 15 pounds. It is designed to look like a basketball about to enter the net. It is made of sterling silver and overlaid with 24 carat gold. Each year the winning team receives its own trophy to permanently display.

World Cup
This is arguably the most recognized trophy around, due in large part to soccer’s fan base that numbers into the billions. The World Cup tournament is even more popular than the Olympics, with an estimated 715 million people watching the final match of the World Cup in 2006. Oddly enough, this trophy is only awarded every four years, and has been since 1930.

The winning team doesn’t get to keep the World Cup permanently. The winners get to keep the trophy until the next tournament comes around four years later. However, they then receive a gold plated replica (the original is solid gold).

Vince Lombardi Trophy

All NFL players hope to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

All NFL players hope to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Most pro football fans will recognize the name. But even more will recognize the iconic NFL championship trophy presented to the winners of each year’s Super Bowl. The sterling silver football portrayed in a kicking position has been around since 1967. After legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi died suddenly from cancer in 1970, the trophy was renamed to commemorate his victories in the first two Super Bowls.

The winner of the Super Bowl gets to keep their trophy permanently, as a new Vince Lombardi Trophy is made every year.

MLB Commissioner’s Trophy
For representing the ultimate victory in America’s favorite pastime, this trophy is quite young in comparison to other iconic trophies. It was first awarded to the winner of the 1967 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals, but didn’t receive its present name until 1985. Of the four major sports in the U.S. this is the only trophy not named after a person.

Each year the winning team is presented with its own trophy. The trophy stands two feet tall and weighs in at a whopping 30 pounds. It is made of sterling silver and features 30 gold plated flags, each representing a Major League team. The flags radiate from a base representing a baseball.


Anna McCarthy is an avid sports fan and human resource specialist. She writes on topics ranging from sports stories to business relationships for Able Trophies, a supplier of glass awards and crystal awards.

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