Crazy Facts About NBA Championship Rings to Impress Your Friends
You're out with the guys watching Steph Curry clean up during the NBA Finals. The announcers are fawning over the Golden State Warriors' impressive run through all of 2015 and 2016. They cut to a shot of the 2015 NBA championship ring.
Your friend says, "Couldn't they come up with a better prize for these guys than a gaudy ring?"
You jump in and explain the astonishing symbolism and craftsmanship behind every detail of NBA championship rings for the last six years.
Jaws would drop. Rings suddenly don't seem like such a "lame" prize anymore.
Let me help you be the hero. Or at least the winner of Thursday night sports trivia.
Check out the rings below and discover the incredible stories behind each of them. Whether you’re a basketball fan or not, you won’t be disappointed.
Los Angeles Lakers (2010)
Dallas Mavericks (2011)
Miami Heat (2012)
Miami Heat (2013)
San Antonio Spurs (2014)
Golden State Warriors (2015)
2010: Los Angeles Lakers
Leather? In a ring? While it might not have much market value compared to the rest of the ring, the significance is priceless.
Pieces of the Game 7 ball from the 2010 NBA Finals are embedded in the Lakers' rings. Gemstones and precious metals can’t replicate that level of meaning.
Leather aside, the rings are decked out with some serious bling. Sixteen round brilliant diamonds and a special batch of 16 carat gold symbolize their 16th championship. Even the ring boxes are decked out, complete with LED lights and a rotating platform.
And the customization didn't end at the team level. Each ring has a 3-D sculpture of the player's face!
2011: Dallas Mavericks
You'd think the eccentric Mark Cuban would go all-out when his team wins an NBA championship, right?
Well … yeah, you’re exactly right. Basically, he said, “Give the players whatever they want.”
Each of the rings have 257 diamonds, totaling almost 10 carats, and three ounces of 14 carat gold.
Other notable features:
- 31 of the 257 diamonds form a perfect circle surrounding the current Mavs logo (to represent everyone who helped them clinch their title)
- Split up into six separate components on a diamond, the design is on a blue background, letting the team colors shine through
- One side features 15 diamonds (representing each player) in the shape of the ‘M’ logo
- The other shows a diamond encrusted Larry O’Brien championship trophy
2012: Miami Heat
The Heat's team motto “All In,” with every player's number around it, is inscribed in an outline of the trophy on one side of the ring. The other side has two diamond encrusted trophies, signifying the franchise total at the time.
The Heat logo appears on top of the trophy, completing the ring face.
Each player's ring took 18 different people 9 to 12 hours of painstaking labor to create. A labor of basketball love.
2013: Miami Heat
Now three diamond-clad Larry O’Brien trophies have to fit on one side of this ring. What a problem to have.
Beneath the trophies is the word “family.” As team president and NBA legend Pat Riley put it, “It’s symbolic of something that’s bigger than just the championship in that it’s 300 people in the organization versus just 15 players.”
The flip side features an outlined trophy with the player's name, the words “back-to-back” around it, and the Chinese symbol for “sacrifice” underneath.
Why Chinese? The Heat’s season began in China and many players sacrificed money and playing time during critical contract years to win a consecutive title.
The inside honors both the team’s franchise-best 66-16 record and their dominating 27-game winning streak. Finally, the top of the ring shows the Heat name placed over their trophies.
Head to NBA.com to view the Making of 2013 Championship Rings.
2014: San Antonio Spurs
One side of the ring features the player's name and number and the NBA logo, while the other displays five diamonds.
The diamonds seen scattered above a hammer breaking open a rock symbolize the team’s total number of championships to date.
(The hidden meaning behind the hammer and the rock stands for “pounding the rock” – which, if you’re not a basketball junkie, means being physical with the ball.)
The top features another logo-and-trophy overlay, but unlike the Heat, the Spurs logo encompasses nearly the entire face, covering most of the trophy. The inside inscription simply says “good to great” - symbolizing that they overcame their woes from the prior year and took care of business this time around.
Photo courtesy: San Antonio Spurs/CBS Sports
2015: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors' championship rings are seriously impressive.
These rings! 💍 pic.twitter.com/3pr0eVnDbM— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) October 28, 2015
Here are 11 stunning features, in the order of most impressive – from “Hey, that’s pretty cool!” to “WOW! Is this real life?”:
- Throughout the 2014-15 season, the Warriors broke their huddles with the motto of “Just Us,” which is engraved on the inside of the ring.
- The Bay Bridge logo jumps off the top with gold and sapphires.
- 16 princess cut stones on the side of the ring represent the 16 postseason wins it took the Warriors to clinch the title.
- The ring totals over six carats of diamonds and sapphires.
- A solo sapphire is set in the center on the inside of the rings to signify the current ownership’s first title.
- “2015” is set prominently on one side of the ring, but if you look closely, you can see the numbers of all 15 players engraved within the year.
- The Warriors' owners Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber had amassed 240 wins during their tenure, which are represented by 240 total stones.
- The ring itself is made from 14 carat gold, but a special batch of 67% yellow gold was used in the players' numbers and Bay Bridge logo - signifying the then-franchise-record 67 regular-season wins. (The Warriors set an NBA record with 73 wins in 2015-16.)
- After hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, an iconic image was taken that captured the entire team grasping the title. A three-dimensional rendering of that photo takes up one side of the ring.
- The Warriors play at Oracle Arena, which has some unique architectural aspects, such as a “woven” exterior and a high arching dome on the interior. Both of these elements are recreated.
- 2015 was the fourth championship the Warriors won, but their first in 40 years. Respectively, four diamonds are singled out to represent each victory. If you place the rings under a black light, those stones become fluorescent and glow.
Now that you're armed with more NBA championship ring knowledge than you'll ever need, go ahead and pull a full shock-and-awe on your buddies at your next happy hour.