06 May, 2008

To the winners go the spoils. Which Trophy is the best though?

Everyone grows up wanting to be a champion of something. Whether you have dreams of hitting that grand-slam home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series, or sinking that three-pointer to close out game seven of the NBA championships. Everyone wants to win, but which trophy is the one worth winning? Here they are, and you can decide. Be sure to vote for your choice on the poll in the right column.

The Commissioner's Trophy is awarded each year by Major League Baseball to the team winning the World Series. The trophy was first awarded in 1967, when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox. The current trophy, which was redesigned slightly in 1999 and made by Tiffany & Co., is 24 inches tall, excluding the base, and 11 inches around. It weighs approximately 30 pounds and is made of sterling silver. The trophy features 30 gold-plated, hand-furled flags, one for each of the Major League teams, which rise above an arched silver ox baseball with latitude and longitude lines that symbolize the world. The baseball also contains 24-karat vermeil baseball stitches. The baseball itself weighs over 10 pounds. The base contains an inscription and the signature of the commissioner. It has an estimated value of $15,000. It was presented for the first time at the conclusion of the 2000 World Series, which was won by the New York Yankees. It is the only championship trophy of the Big Four that is not named after a particular person.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy is the trophy awarded each year to the winning team of the National Football League's annual championship game, the Super Bowl. The trophy was originally called the "World Championship Game Trophy" in 1967, when the Super Bowl was originally named the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. It was renamed in 1970 in memory of legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi to commemorate his victories in the first two Super Bowls. Since Super Bowl XXX, it is presented to the winning team's owner on the field following the game. Previously, the trophy was presented inside the winning team's locker room. The trophy is valued at $25,000. The trophy depicts a regulation-size football in kicking position that is made entirely of sterling silver. It stands 23 inches (55 cm) tall, weighs seven pounds (3 kg), and takes approximately four months and 72 man-hours to create. The words "Vince Lombardi Trophy" and the NFL logo are engraved on the base. After the trophy is awarded, it is sent back to Tiffany & Co. to be engraved with the winning team's name, the date and final score of the Super Bowl. The winning team is rewarded the trophy afterward.

The Stanley Cup, awarded annually to the National Hockey League (NHL) champion, is the most coveted ice hockey club championship trophy in the world. The Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. Originally inscribed the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the trophy was donated by former Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892 as an award for Canada's top-ranking amateur ice hockey club. In 1915, the two professional ice hockey organizations, the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), reached a gentlemen's agreement in which their respective champions would face each other for the Stanley Cup. After a series of league mergers and folds, it became the de facto championship trophy of the NHL in 1926. The Cup later became the official NHL championship prize in 1947. The Stanley Cup is surrounded by numerous legends and traditions, the oldest of which is the celebratory drinking of champagne out of the cup by the winning team. Unlike the trophies awarded by the other three major professional sports leagues of North America, a new Stanley Cup is not made each year; Cup winners keep it until a new champion is crowned. It is the only trophy in professional sports that has the name of the winning players, coaches, management, and club staff engraved on it. The original bowl was made of silver and has a dimension of 18.5 cm (7.28 inches) in height and 29 cm (11.42 inches) in diameter. The current Stanley Cup is made of silver and nickel alloy. It has a height of 89.54 cm (35.25 inches) and weighs 15.5 kg (34.5 lb).

The Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy is awarded to the National Basketball Association team who wins the NBA Finals at the conclusion of every basketball season. The current NBA Championship Trophy was created for the 1978 NBA Finals, replacing the previous trophy design. Originally named after Walter A. Brown, it was renamed in 1984 in honor of former NBA commissioner Larry O'Brien. The trophy is made of approximately sixteen pounds of sterling silver and vermeil (with a 24 karat gold overlay) and stands about two feet tall. It is designed to look like a basketball about to enter a basketball net. The basketball itself is the same size as a regulation size NBA basketball. The trophy is created each year in the Tiffany & Co. Silver Shop. A new Larry O'Brien Trophy is made every year, and the winning team maintains permanent possession of that trophy. The trophy is engraved with the year and team name, and the trophies are often prominently displayed in the team's arena.

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