Stanley Cup

Ranking the 10 best championship trophies in sports


What fun is winning if you have nothing to show for it?

Between rings, medals and green jackets, there are some unique prizes across sports. But what is the best championship trophy?

To examine this question, there need to be some limitations. The Heisman Trophy is omitted since it is for an individual accolade. Olympic medals are also excluded because they don’t quite meet the threshold of a “trophy.” The Masters green jacket, Tour de France yellow jersey and combat sports belts all fall outside of the trophy umbrella, as well.

With those parameters in mind, here are the top 10 championship trophies in sports?

10. World Cup Trophy, FIFA

The World Cup is fine by design with its two human figures holding up the Earth. That element makes it feel like it’s a global prize.

What keeps the trophy from landing higher on the list is its size. At under 15 inches tall, it is an underwhelming award for a team accomplishment as monumental as the World Cup.

9. College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy, NCAA Football

The CFP National Championship Trophy is noticeably better than the generic NCAA championship trophy and is a significant improvement over the former prize before a playoff was used to determine a champion. The old Coaches’ Trophy was a delicate crystal football that looked like something Danny Ocean’s crew would try to steal.

At 26.5 inches tall and 35 pounds, the new prize makes for a respectable two-handed lift for the college football champions.

8. Championship trophy, WNBA

The most recent trophy to be lifted comes in at No. 8.

The Chicago Sky earned the WNBA’s top prize by closing out the Phoenix Mercury in the finals on Oct. 17. Candace Parker and Co. won Game 4 80-74 and earned the unnamed trophy on their home floor.

The design itself is unique, clean and practical. The three pillars holding up the ball make it easy to hold and lift.

7. Claret Jug, British Open

The next few entries on our list take us across the Atlantic.

The Claret Jug, which is formally called the Golf Champion Trophy, has both a solid design and historic pedigree. It was first awarded in 1872 and still holds up as an artifact that reflects the rich history of the Open Championship.

Plus, it is the first entry on the list that can be used for drinking.

6. Premier League Trophy, Premier League

Soccer provides perhaps the best "money shots" among all championship ceremonies when the captain lifts the respective trophy, pyrotechnics go off and the rest of the club goes nuts in the background. While this tradition holds true with the World Cup, Champions League and MLS, the Premier League presentation is made that much better with its bigger trophy.

Based on the three lions of English football, the 41-inch, silver prize is a worthy accolade for the winner of the PL crown.

5. Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy and Ladies’ Singles Trophy, Wimbledon

Two of the top honors in tennis share the No. 5 slot on this list.

Wimbledon dishes out two totally different trophy models for the men’s and women’s singles champions. The Gentlemen's Singles Trophy, first presented in 1887, is a cup made of silver and stands at 18 inches tall. The Ladies’ Singles Trophy, on the other hand, is a silver salver that was first presented a year earlier in 1886.

While the World Cup Trophy was knocked for size, Wimbledon’s singles trophies are perfect for an individual competition. For players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who each have 20 Grand Slam titles, it also makes things much easier from a storage perspective.

4. Commissioner’s Trophy, MLB

MLB’s commissioner might think his own trophy is just “a piece of metal,” but that’s selling it well short.

The 30 flags mounted atop the trophy stand for each team in the league. Those flags rise above a silver baseball inscribed with latitude and longitude signs that help represent the world.

The pennants themselves cannot be used as handles like the pillars on the WNBA trophy. They are also susceptible to dents from flying beer cans. Still, they make for a design that represents the sport and teams’ quest for October -- and sometimes November -- glory.

3. Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, NBA

From Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant to LeBron James, the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy has been a prop in some truly iconic basketball images.

The trophy stands two feet tall. That may not be as big as some other trophies for team sports, but a basketball team also has fewer players. It’s made out of sterling silver and vermeil with a gold overlay and has a simple look that is instantly recognizable.

Now, the NBA just needs to get back to placing an image of the trophy behind the home team’s logo at halfcourt during Finals games.

2. Lombardi Trophy, NFL

Going step by step, the Lombardi Trophy is not all that spectacular. Size? A smidge under two feet tall. Design? It’s a football trophy with a football on it. 

But out on the field after the Super Bowl? There’s almost nothing better.

The Lombardi Trophy offers the best one-handed trophy raise in sports. Originally produced by Tiffany & Co., the sterling silver trophy offers clear reflections when it is being walked up to the podium on the field with all of the winning players reaching in to kiss it.

Just be sure to keep it away from Rob Gronkowski.

1. Stanley Cup, NHL

It should come as no surprise that Lord Stanley’s Cup comes out on top.

The NHL championship trophy checks all the boxes. It’s nearly three feet tall and 34.5 pounds, making it a glorious scene when the winning captain raises it following four grueling rounds of playoff hockey. It has history, with the winning players getting their names engraved on it. Oh, and it serves as one of the world’s coolest eating and drinking apparatuses.

Teams do not get to keep the Cup since it is passed on from winner to winner, but that makes the playoffs all the more enticing as defending champions battle to hang onto their prize.

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