Why Are NBA Championship Rings Given the Next Season?
Winning the NBA Finals and being crowned an NBA champion, is the pinnacle of success for any basketball player. A true feat and triumph, winning the NBA Finals and being dubbed the reigning NBA champions takes grit, hard work, and perseverance.
But why, exactly, are NBA championship rings given the next season and not provided to the team immediately upon securing the championship? Below, we are not only going to discuss just why NBA players and staff receive their championship rings the following season, but also just exactly who on the team is awarded a championship ring.
In addition, we will look at what the NBA championship ring is made up of, how much an NBA championship ring can be resold for, and who pays for the championship rings. Essentially, we will be looking at all aspects of the NBA championship ring in this article.
If you are looking to just know why NBA championship rings are given the next season and not immediately after winning the NBA Finals, then the quick answer is, quite simply, no-one knows who will win the NBA Finals for a specific season.
Due to the championship rings being custom made and engraved with each individual player’s name, both the league and the winning team must coordinate with one-another and the makers of the rings to design and create the rings.
Doing so takes time. And while most teams have a baseline design that they would like to incorporate within the ring, finalizing the ring design and providing those specifications to both the league and the specific jeweler to create is a process that takes time.
As such, the chosen jeweler will be given time to adapt the given design and create the individual rings. And while the chosen jeweler will have some time to review the ring specifications and create the ring, both the league and the championship team expect the rings to be completed and delivered before the start of the following season.
Which Jeweler Manufactures the NBA Championship Ring?
Typically, the jeweler whom manufacturers the NBA championship ring has been either L.G. Balfour of Attleboro, Massachusetts or Jostens of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both L.G. Balfour and Jostens have historically been contracted to create the championship rings of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, including the NFL, MLB, and NHL.
However, in recent years, Tiffany & Co. has been contracted by different leagues to manufacture, design, and create the championship rings of the four major sport leagues. This is particularly true for the NFL, where Tiffany &. Co. was chosen to manufacture the championship rings for the Buccaneers XXXVII, Giants XLII, saints XLIV, Giants XLVI, and Seahawks XLVII rings.
Why do NBA Players Want an NBA Ring?
An individual NBA players championship ring, rather than the number of championship trophies, is often used by sportswriters and reporters to discuss the on-court success of an individual NBA player. NBA championship rings are often seen as the barometer of an individual players success, with the number of rings a player has historically been used to measure the success during their time in the league.
Similarly, in terms of the greatest basketball and NBA players of all-time, the discussion generally centers around which players have the most individual championship rings. And while there have been great NBA players who never won a ring, it is the players with the most rings that truly qualify for the greatest of all-time conversation.
Who Pays for the NBA Championship Ring?
Contrary to many other professional leagues, most notably the NFL, in the NBA, the owners of the championship team dole out the fee required to manufacture and create the championship rings. And while the rings are costly to make, the cost is generally offset by the winning proceeds which the owners recoup from winning the championship.
However, and again contrary to popular belief, the individual players do not have to pay for their own championship rings. Rather, the full cost of the rings are the responsibility of the individual team owner.
Who Gets an NBA Championship Ring?
Similarly, when it comes to deciding on who gets a championship ring, the decision is left to the discretion of the individual team owners. As the team owners bear the cost of manufacturing the championship rings, they are also able to limit who is eligible to receive one.
However, contrary to popular belief, it is not just the individual players and coaches of the winning team who receive championship rings. Rather, for most winning teams, the entire front office, managers, trainers, and locker room staff will also receive championship rings.
This is done as a means to support all the personnel who helped the team rise to the challenge of the season and to reward all individual contributors. Similarly, providing all players, coaches, and staff with championship rings helps to boost team morale and motivation, especially as the new season rolls around.
Similarly, some owners may opt to have championship rings manufactured for former players and players who were traded during the regular season. This is particularly true for players who were instrumental in the success of the team and helped lead them to the NBA Finals.
In addition, some NBA owners may also opt to have championship rings created for player’s wives, girlfriends, and significant others. While not a requirement, doing so is seen as a gesture of good will and is typically done as an act of appreciation for the time a player spends away from their family during the regular season.
However, due to the cost of the championship rings, some teams will opt to have ring tiers. The first tier of rings will be more expensive and will be reserved for players and coaching staff. These rings are typically studded with diamonds and are made of precious metals, including platinum and gold.
The second tier will typically be less expensive and will be reserved for the team personnel. The second tier of NBA championship rings will still be valuable but won’t have the costly diamonds and metals embedded throughout.
How Much Does an NBA Championship Ring Cost?
As the NBA progresses and becomes a more global sport, each individual team attempts to “one-up” the previous championship team. As such, year-over-year, the cost to develop and manufacture an NBA championship ring increases.
Currently, NBA championship rings are estimated to cost over $20,000 per ring. And with 15 players on a team, that’s over $300,000 just for rings for the players. Not including the coaching staff, front office, managers, and other personnel, NBA owners are typically on the hook for a little over a million dollars to ensure all staff and personnel receive a championship ring.
And if you are looking to purchase an authentic NBA championship ring, expect to pay top-dollar. Not including the value of the diamonds and precious metals, the rings are both commemorative and symbolic of a difficult achievement.
Famously, the great Los Angeles Lakers star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar auctioned 4 of his NBA championship rings along with other personal memorabilia. And while he was able to raise $2.8 million for his Skyhook Foundation, a charitable organization, which raises money for students to learn science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), it was his 1987 ring which fetched the highest price, selling for just under $400,000.
What Are NBA Championship Rings Made of?
While there are few restrictions to the number of diamonds and other fine jewelry that can be placed on an NBA championship ring, as a basic outline, all championship rings must have the following:
- Team name and logo
- Year the team won the NBA championship
- The individual player’s name
- The NBA logo
- The words “World Champions” inscribed
However, once those requirements are met, NBA teams generally have free reign to design, build, and manufacture the rings as they see fit. And while most NBA championship rings are either silver or gold, NBA owners can opt for other precious metals.
Most Championship Rings by Category
While the quest for an NBA championship ring is the ultimate goal of most NBA teams, players, and coaches, some have been more successful than others. Below is a list of NBA championship rings by individual category.
- NBA Team with the Most Championship Rings – the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are tied at 17 rings apiece for the most championship rings by an NBA franchise.
- NBA Player with the Most Championship Rings – Bill Russell, with 11 championship rings, is the NBA player with the most championship rings.
- NBA Coach with the Most Championship Rings – Phil Jackson, with 11 championship rings between the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers is the NBA coach with the most championship rings.