New York Knicks not about to witness Cavaliers' ring ceremony

Steve Aschburner

Steve Aschburner

CLEVELAND — Different sports, different traditions. The NHL has players line up in formal handshake lines at the end of each playoff series, while the NBA and the NFL mostly mill about and MLB doesn’t even do much of that. Baseball, on the other hand, uncorks champagne with every round of postseason success, while the others soggy-celebrate only at the end.

Then there are the ring ceremonies, banner hoistings and trophy presentations. Some opposing coaches like their teams to witness such rituals, to seer into their psyches the goal for which they’re all striving. Some coaches want no part of it, lest it psych his guys out.

The New York Knicks were planning to vacate their, er, ringside seats and skip the festivities preceding their 2016-17 opening game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night at Quick Loans Arena (7:30 ET on TNT). While the Cavaliers receive their championship rings and fans at The Q see the banner sent aloft to the arena rafters in which it will reside, the Knicks will avoid it by heading back to the visitors’ dressing room.

“Sometimes it helps [to motivate], sometimes they just want to ignore it,” New York coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Maybe it’s good for some of the young guys to see it. The old guys are like, ‘I don’t want to watch that.’ It’s whatever their choice. I think most of our guys prefer just to get ready and focused for the game.”

So the Knicks will stay busy with some stretching or other workout moves, hoping to bridge the gap between their initial warm-up period and the shorter one they’ll get right before tipoff.

“We’ll be back in the locker room, trying to stretch and trying to stay loose,” Hornacek said after the morning shootaround. “It’s kind of a tough thing to do when you come out here, you get loose a little bit and then you go in the locker room and have that 20-minute break where you get stiff again.” The Knicks, he added, might hold their pregame meeting during the ceremonies.

All of which is fine, because they’re just guests invited to goose the interest and TV ratings a bit. The Cavs are the stars of the night, on a night when they likely will feel more like champions than on any before or after.

That final horn after the Finals-clinching game? That’s a defining moment for a championship team. The entire next season when they’re announced as “defending champions everywhere they go and play? Awesome. But for some, there is nothing that tops getting that jewel-encrusted, doorstop-sized, big-bucks bauble.

“It’s really ‘ring night’ when you celebrate with your family, when you celebrate with your friends, when you celebrate with the city and your fans,” said Cleveland’s James Jones, who won rings at LeBron James’ teammate in 2012 and 2013, same as last year. “We hoisted the trophy – that’s one trophy for 15 guys – but [Tuesday night] we all get the hardware. That becomes a part of our lives and a part of us for the rest of our lives. That’s the most special moment.”

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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