Watching the eyes of NBA players light up when they're handed a championship ring will never get old, but watching players who are reaching that pinnacle for the first time adds an extra layer of appreciation. After dethroning the Golden State Warriors as the reigning champions of the league, the Toronto Raptors took one last victory lap before everything is reset for the 2019-20 season with their ring ceremony ahead of their game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
Each year, it seems the rings just keep getting bigger and bigger, and the Raptors ensured that the rings for their first ever championship equaled the gravity of winning it all.
These things are massive, and look really sleek with subtle notes of black and red throughout the rings. Kyle Lowry spearheaded what the championship rings would look like, which was created by Ontario-based championship ring designer company Baron Championship Rings.
There are 74 diamonds on the face of the ring, which represents every win en route to the championship last season. The Larry O'Brien trophy is prominently displayed on the face, as well as a chevron with the word "North" and the Toronto skyline. On the outer edge of the ring, there are 16 rubies, one representing all 16 players on the championship roster, and a 17th ruby on the inside of the ring with a Canadian maple leaf engraved around it to represent the Raptors' home country.
As each player and coach received their ring, you could see the pure joy on their faces. Even coach Nick Nurse let out a loud "woo" before accepting his ring.
The players weren't the only ones walking away with hardware before the game. The first 20,000 fans at Scotiabank Arena received replica rings so they felt they were part of the celebration as well. While they aren't as heavy or expensive as the real rings the players and coaches received, Raptors fans have been waiting forever to celebrate this moment, so it's only right they get to walk away with a souvenir of their own.
Raptors superfan Drake isn't in attendance for Toronto's opening game, however, he'll receive not one, but two custom rings of his own. The first one is exactly what the players receive, but the second one features the Raptors dinosaur logo on front with the Larry O'Brien trophy peeking out behind it. Drake was incredibly passionate on the sidelines of every Raptors playoff game and helped create some custom championship gear for the team when they won.
Drake may have never actually played a game for Toronto, but his passion definitely helped spark some excitement for Raptors fans. We only hope that when Drake comes to his first game of the 2019-20 season, the Raptors will hold another ceremony presenting him with his rings.
The journey for the Raptors to win last season's title was a long one, and even though Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is no longer there to lead them, no one can take what they accomplished last year away from them.