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The O'Brien trophy is a prominent feature of a championship parade.
The trophy, made of 14.5 pounds of sterling silver and vermeil with a 24 karatgold overlay, stands two feet tall. It is designed to look like a basketball about to enter a net. The basketball itself is nine inches in diameter, about the same size as a NBA regulation ball. Valued at $13,500, the trophy is manufactured by the Tiffany & Co. Silver Shop every year. The winning team maintains permanent possession of the trophy. The year and team names are engraved on the trophies, and are often prominently displayed in the team's arena.345
The O'Brien trophy displayed for the 2005 NBA Legends Tour in the New York City NBA Store
Although the Larry O'Brien Trophy has often been compared with the National Hockey League's (NHL) Stanley Cup, it has never been as identifiable as the NHL trophy.6 To reduce this discrepancy, the NBA has been actively promoting the O'Brien Trophy in recent years to generate more recognition and an iconic status for the trophy.7 After the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Finals in 2004, the trophy was toured around the state of Michigan, marking the first time the trophy toured around the state of the winning team.8 In 2005, the NBA Legends Tour was launched in New York City. As part of the tour, the O’Brien Trophy was showcased in various cities—including those that were hosting the playoffs—for fans' autograph and photo sessions. It was escorted by many former players, including Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell.57 In May 2007, the NBA unveiled the NBA Headquarters on Second Life, an Internet-based virtual reality environment. With this launch, fans could take pictures with the championship trophy in the virtual Toyota Larry O'Brien Trophy Room.9 In August, the trophy traveled to Hong Kong for the first time as part of the NBA Madness Asia Tour.10
The winning team of the NBA Finals receives the O'Brien Trophy, and has since the Portland Trail Blazers won it in 1977. They were awarded it in conjunction with the original Walter A. Brown Trophy. Each successive champion was awarded a version of this new trophy to keep, and the original, cup-shaped Walter A. Brown Trophy to hold until the next championship. This state of affairs pertained until 1983. The Boston Celtics were the first winner of only this trophy, receiving it in 1984 after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers four games to three.11 The Los Angeles Lakers have won the trophy eight times; the Chicago Bulls have won it six times and the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics have each won it four times. The Detroit Pistons have won it three times. The Houston Rockets won it twice. The Miami Heat are the current team holding it, having won the 2013 NBA Finals, as well as previously winning in 2012 and 2006.12