By Rob Peterson
Posted Oct 29 2008 12:28PM
BOSTON -- Scot Pollard bounded out of the crowd like a contestant on "The Price is Right" to receive his ring. Tony Allen and Kevin Garnett slipped on theirs immediately. Ray Allen flashed his for the in-house camera. And Paul Pierce was openly weeping the whole time.
In an electric and emotional pregame ceremony, the Boston Celtics received their championship rings from NBA Commissioner David Stern and Celtics managing partner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck at the TD BankNorth Garden in front of a standing room only crowd who stood for the whole ceremony.
No one in the house seemed to mind the Celtics opening night opponents, the Cleveland Cavaliers, sought sanctuary in the safety of their locker room.
"I didn't know they were invited," Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked before the game.
If the Cavs did check out the ceremony, they would have seen Celtics legend John Havlicek, accompanied by Celtics legends Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, Satch Sanders, Jo Jo White, M.L. Carr and Cedric Maxwell, cart out the Larry O'Brien and hand it off to a teary-eyed Pierce, who then hoisted the trophy for the 18,624 fans in the stands to see.
Before the game, Commissioner Stern noted that he enjoys opening night ring ceremonies. He can understand why players would have such emotions.
"Because in this game, you have players say they're playing for the ring," Stern said. "And here you are, a part of fulfilling the goal of every player.
"Once they have it, they have a sense of fulfillment they've never had before."
So, as the camera flashes from the stands punctuated the darkened arena, the players' basketball lives flashed before their eyes as they stepped forward to receive their rings.
"I'm always welcome in places when I come with hardware," Stern said.
And it's hardware that would have the other 29 teams green with envy. The ring's stats are as impressive as the Celtics' 66-16 record last season. The ring is made of 14-karat white gold. The top of the ring has an emerald shamrock of three heart-shaped 8mm emeralds and three emeralds on the stem. The shamrock itself is surrounded by 64 diamonds and the bezel has 20 more. On one side, the ring has "Banner 17" to commemorate the Celtics NBA-record 17th title and on the other side, "Ubuntu,", the Zulu word, when loosely translated means "A person is a person only through other people", which Celtics coach Doc Rivers introduced as the team's mantra. For a nice final touch, Red Auerbach's name is inscribed on the inside. In total, the ring has a combined 92 diamonds and emeralds and has 9-carats of gemstones.
These rings aren't for wearing, they're for wowing. Still, that didn't prevent Doc Rivers, the coaching staff, Tony Allen and Kevin Garnett from trying them out as soon as they got them. And upon receiving his, Pierce, who made his own place among the Celtic pantheon with his MVP performance in The Finals, wept even more. Then, he and his teammates marched to the other end of the court to raise Boston's 17th banner to the rafters, closing the ceremony and closing out another chapter in the Celtics illustrious history.
Five minutes later, the tears were dried and the emotions were set aside. The Celtics and the Cavs tipped off the 2008-09 season and the quest begins anew.
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