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The NBA has expressed quite a bit of interest in replicating elements of international soccer as a business model. The inspiration for a mid-season tournament, expected to come in the next few years, comes from the world of soccer as teams compete for several different trophies over the course of a year. In that vein, the NBA has introduced a number of new trophies recently, including Eastern and Western Conference Finals MVP awards named for Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, respectively.

Well, now, the league is introducing yet another trophy. On Tuesday, it unveiled the Maurice Podoloff trophy, named for the NBA's first commissioner. It will go to the team each season that has the best regular-season record. Last season, that would have been the Phoenix Suns. The NBA describes the trophy by saying that it "features a crystal ball cut into 82 panels, sitting on a pedestal that combines the structures of the Eastern Conference posts and Western conference rings."

NBA teams tend to focus primarily on the championship awarded at the end of the season. Players approach injuries cautiously. Teams tank for better draft positions in the hopes that it will get them into the title mix in the future. It creates an exciting postseason, but a regular season that is often devoid of stakes.

This is just the latest step the league has taken towards attempting to remedy that. In most international soccer leagues, there aren't even playoffs. Championships are based on the end-of-the-season standings. The NBA won't go that far, but it is attempting to reward teams for regular-season excellence to create a more balanced season.