Continuing our long-standing relationship with FIBA, Thomas Lyte are honoured to have hand-crafted the most prestigious trophy in international basketball, the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The tournament enjoys a rich history, having first been played for as far back as 1950, and the new basketball trophy, which was commissioned and made in 2017 and handed to the winners of the tournament for the first time two years later, has already assumed a special place at the heart of the sport.
As luxury silversmiths, goldsmiths and elite sports trophy makers, Thomas Lyte, in partnership with the design team at Radiant Studios, were approached to provide a custom sports trophy which would celebrate the increase in the number of teams involved in the tournament for the 2019 edition of the event held in China. That jump from 24 to 32 teams exemplifies the popularity of a sport that continues to grow around the world – and our team of specialist trophy manufacturers have created a trophy which reflects the excitement surrounding basketball in the modern era.
Unveiled in Guangzhou, one of the locations for the 2019 tournament, the trophy is named after the founder and inventor of the sport, Canadian-born James Naismith. The Naismith Trophy is the third in the competition’s history, although it took 17 years for the tournament to have any silverware to award its winner. The four initial champions – Argentina, USA and Brazil (twice) – enjoyed somewhat symbolic victories. That has all changed, with Spain lifting the stunning new trophy for the first time as the basketball world watched on.
“To be involved in a sport that has grown so quickly is hugely exciting,” said Chief Executive and Founder of Thomas Lyte, Kevin Baker. “We believe the World Cup trophy reflects that global sense of excitement.”
For a tournament that started life without a trophy, the stunning FIBA Basketball World Cup, hand-crafted at Thomas Lyte’s London-based silver workshops, takes the silverware on offer to an entirely new level. Standing at 60cm – 13cm taller than the original – the design of the gold-plated trophy was inspired by the Egyptian lotus flower.
Hand-spun from a single sheet of hallmarked sterling silver, the detailed leaves on the goblet and ribbing nearer the foot of the trophy were hammered into the metal with precise taps on a chisel using a process called chasing that can be dated back thousands of years.
The trophy was gold plated in a chemical reaction called electroplating after being polished to a fine finish with motorised polishing lathes spinning at over 3000 rpm. The engraving on the plinth of the trophy includes the International Basketball Federations original name – Federation Internationale de Basketball de Amateur – as a nod to the tournaments roots. The digital artwork for this, is translated into the precise movements of a diamond-tipped engraving machine, with the resulting inscription left to dance in the light.
Once the trophy was assembled, it was handed over to Thomas Lyte’s quality control operation. The team ensure that all high profile trophies, including the likes of the Emirates FA Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the Guinness Six Nations, only leave our workshop after they have been meticulously inspected and meet the exacting standards that we set ourselves.
Following hard on the heels of football’s World Cup, the FIBA Basketball World Cup has held a similar mystique for those in love with a sport invented by the man after whom the trophy is named. With the competition expanding to include 32 teams in 2019, it has now become a truly global event. The tournament also acts as a qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games.
It’s a huge jump from the first tournament, held in Argentina, which featured just 10 teams. Indeed, for the first 42 years of the competition the number of countries involved fluctuated between 10 and 24. Now a sport which consistently captures the imagination of the world, the FIBA Basketball World Cup is the kind of global event that not even Naismith could have envisaged, and now has a trophy which befits the sport’s expansive ambitions.
Thomas Lyte’s portfolio within basketball has grown as consistently as the sport itself. We’re now proud to be the makers of the FIBA Basketball Champions League Trophy; FIBA Afrobasket Trophy; FIBA AsiaCup Trophy; FIBA AmeriCup Trophy; and the Nikolai Semashko FIBA Eurobasket Trophy.