What is it that NBA players want most? What is it that makes them push themselves for 82 games in the regular season and 16 wins in the playoffs? What is it that makes them work out like Navy SEALs in the offseason? Why do veterans hang on for that extra year or two? Because it's about the ring. The big, gaudy, golden, diamond-encrusted, inscribed ring heavy enough to use a doorstop and beautiful enough to mesmerize most anyone. It's the ultimate symbol of accomplishment and excellence. Wear it with pride, you're a champion. The ring is definitely the thing.
Pat Riley, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Champion
As a player: 1972; as an assistant: 1980; as head coach: 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988
What do your rings symbolize to you?"What you did in your career was significant, and it mattered and counted. That you were a part of something that could never be taken away from you."
Which one do you wear the most?"The 1985 Ring. The ultimate breakthrough for the Lakers in the 80s against the Boston Celtics and it was symbolic of a team that simply, probably didn't believe it could, but did. Our backs were against the wall and we rose to the occasion in an absolutely incredible series to beat the Celtics for the first time in the history of that rivalry with the Lakers.
"So, I wear it because every time I think my back is against the wall I just have to look at and say it can be done."
What was the reaction you had to winning the first ring?"I jumped on Jerry West's back!"
What was your reaction when you first slipped it on your finger?"Incredible pride."
Have you ever misplaced one of them?"I've never misplaced one of them, but I did have one stolen, but I later got it back."
What's the best reaction you've received when wearing them?"Wow! Especially the '85 ring. They ask, 'What's that for?' I just say 'a championship ring.'"
Fun facts about Coach Riley's rings-- The 1985 Ring - Top - "Los Angeles Lakers World Champions" around the outside of the top, with two diamonds, circlular and rectangle, in the center recreating the Larry O'Brien Trophy. One Side - "Riley" with "1985" below and the NBA logo separating the "19" and the "85". The other side - "Purple Reign" with the Lakers logo just below, and below that "LA-4 Bos-2"
-- The ring Coach Riley's won as a player The 1972 Ring - Top - "NBA World Champions" around the outside of the top with one large diamond in the center. One Side - "P. Riley", with Lakers logo under, with "33 Straight" beneath that and "69-13" at the very bottom. One Side - "1972" with the NBA logo separating the "19" and the "72"
Pat Riley is now President and Head Coach of the Miami Heat