During the 2021-2022 NBA season opener, the Milwaukee Bucks torched the Brooklyn Nets 127-104. However, the biggest thing that Bucks walked away with on Wednesday was not just a win against the prohibitive favourites to be this year’s champions, but also their custom NBA Championship rings to honour their 2021 Finals victory back in July.
Despite continuing the proliferation of sporting competitions exclusive to North America referring to themselves as “world champions”, the rings are truly a sight for sore eyes. The baubles were designed in collaboration with Jason of Beverly Hills, the man behind 12 major professional sports rings (six of which were for NBA championships), who notably also designed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl LV rings last year.
“We wanted to once again rewrite the rules of what a championship ring should be,” said Jason Arasheben, CEO of Jason of Beverly Hills.
“We sought to create something that had a bit more versatility than rings of the past. As championship rings have gotten bigger, they have become less and less practical to wear. We addressed this by developing a push-button system that allows the players to wear the top of the ring as a pendant, making it a piece of jewellery they can wear every day around their finger or on their neck to celebrate their tremendous season.”
All Bucks players who were on the roster during the playoff run are set to get a signature ring, as will members of the front office and owners. A version of the ring will also go to employees of the organisation who worked during the playoff run, when they’re ready later this season.
Here is a look at the rings below.
Top of the Ring
The top of the ring is comprised of 360 diamonds, said to represent each win under the team’s current ownership group. The gold Larry O’Brien trophy featured behind their bold green logo is made from 65.3% purity yellow gold, which also happens to be the win percentage for the Bucks throughout the 2020-21 season.
The logo and trophy are surrounded by an interior bezel that contains 50 round diamonds. One might think that this detail is in celebration of Giannis Antetokounmpo scoring 50 points in Game 6 (and ordering 50 chicken nuggets at Chick-fil-A, the following day), but it is actually in reference to the number of years between Bucks championships.
Surrounding this, the words “World Champions” on the ring contain an approximate 0.53 karats, which are a nod to the number of years of Milwaulkee basketball. In what Arasheben described as the “most complicated” aspect of the ring, its top is actually removable and can be worn as a necklace. The American tradition of sporting rings has progressed to the point of being so large that they can no longer be worn on a human finger.
Inside the Removable Top
To open the ring, one is supposed to press two buttons on either side of it – one that says “FEAR THE DEAR”; the other saying “BUCKS IN 6”. Here you will see the ring pays homage to the entire 53-year history of the franchise, with the various logos of the team’s past.
You’ll also find an accompanying QR code underneath the top. The very 2021 detail can be scanned to play a series of highlights from the team’s championship season on your phone. In the words of the rings creator: “We wanted a design that allowed for even greater storytelling. A QR code was the perfect way to allow the owner of the ring to see the highlights of the championship season.”
Player Side of Band
A total of 4.14 carats of emeralds were used throughout the ring, which stands for the 414 area code of Milwaulkee. On the player side of the ring, each individual team member has their surname and number surrounded by 16 diamonds. By now, you would have caught on to the fact that none of these numbers is chosen at random; the 16 represents the number of playoff wins achieved on the road to their championship.
Behind the player’s name and number, this part of the ring’s design is meant to mimic the brick portion of Fiserv Forum facing the plaza that became the initial home base of the “Deer District.” Appropriately, featured above is the city’s motto of “FEAR THE DEAR.”
Team Side of Band
On the team side, you have a bit going on. At the bottom, you have the final score of the championship-clinching Game 6 on either side of the NBA logo: 105-98. You also have the Larry O’Brien trophy featured in the middle of “2021”, a reminder of the NBA Championship year that this ring signifies. On the top, you have the playoff-series victory counts (4-0, 4-3, 4-2, 4-2) beneath the “BUCKS IN 6” in bold typeface.
The 16 emerald-shaped diamonds on this side is said to represent the franchise’s total of division titles. There are also two trophies etched into the inside of the band, one for each of the organisation’s championships.
As these rings continue to get bigger and bigger (to the point where they need to be worn around the person’s neck), I would bet the Milwaulkee Bucks are making sure to save some extra room in their trophy cabinet. At only 26-years-old, the Greek Freek looks more able and confident than ever before. Chances are, the Bucks might not have to wait another 50 years to see their third ring.