Last week we brought you a list of the best Stanley Cup championship rings, and the week before that we brought you a list of the best World Series championship rings. But why stop there? With the 2012 NBA Playoffs getting underway this week, there’s no better time to bring you a list of the 15 Best NBA Championship Rings.
Now, of the three leagues we’ve covered so far, the list of NBA Championship rings has the least variety when it comes to teams. That has mostly to do with the fact that two teams (the Celtics and Lakers) have won 51% of all championships. And of course another two teams (the Bulls and Spurs) have won another 15%, which leaves only 34% of the NBA Championships for the rest of the teams. Moreover, there are as many teams that have won multiple championships as there are teams that have won just once (9).
So you see, with the NBA, you just don’t get the variety that you get with other sports. But that’s okay. The rings are still pretty good. Probably not as good as the World Series or Stanley Cup rings we’ve seen, but we’ll leave that assessment for another day. For now, let’s get down to business.
I really like Miami's 2006 championship ring, with all those diamonds and the Larry O'Brien trophy on top of the textured onyx. It's one of the most unique rings in NBA history. But it has one major flaw in my opinion: if you just saw the top of this ring, you'd have no idea what team won a championship. Seems like a bit of an oversight to me, since that's the only part of the ring you see when someone wears it.
15. 2006 Miami Heat
At #14 we have another ring that I really like, and which I would have put higher up, if not for one fatal flaw: it lacks color.
Yes, I know, the Spurs colors aren't exactly...well, colorful. Just black, silver, and white. But this ring, while is has an awesomely blingy spur, doesn't even have black. Of course, some people like the all-diamond look, and that's fine. But I'm making the list, and I like color. Sue me.
14. 2003 San Antonio Spurs
Here's an example of a nice-looking ring that doesn't try to do too much. Diamond background? Check. Two-tone gold? Check. Larry O'Brien Trophy? Check. Team name/logo? Check. It doesn't break any new ground, but it's not too boring, either.
13. 2004 Detroit Pistons
This ring commemorating the Celtics' 1968 Championship is the oldest ring on the list. And while the rings from back in the day weren't as opulent as the ones they have now, they were still very nice looking. This particular design, with the diamond set inside a basketball, was a pretty common one for the period. We'll see one other example of this style a few spots up on the list.
12. 1968 Boston Celtics
The Lakers' last two rings (from 2009 and 2010) are gaudy monstrosities not worthy of the top 15. This one from 1982, though simple, is all class. You've got the team colors (thanks to a purple gem and the yellowest of yellow gold), some diamonds, a Lakers logo, and the words "Wold Champions" in nice block letters with the year on the side.
11. 1982 Los Angeles Lakers
The Spurs did a little better with their 2005 NBA Championship ring. They've still got the spur logo, but this time it's the version set inside the team name logo. And they added a gold Larry O'Brien Trophy capped with a big white diamond. Oh, and there are a ton of small diamonds, too...pretty much everywhere. Still would like to see a bit more color, though.
10. 2005 San Antonio Spurs
I'll admit that, when I first saw this ring, I thought it was stupid. I thought, why the hell are those triangles there? What's that got to do with the Lakers?
But then I realized it's from 2002 and commemorates the Kobe & Shaq Lakers' three-peat. So the triangles, everyone's favorite three-sided polygon, are symbolic. And of course, when you look closely, you see that the central triangle is framed by the word "back" on each side. So this, in fact, is a very unique and fitting championship ring.
9. 2002 Los Angeles Lakers
When the Bulls won their second three-peat back in '98, making it 6 Championships in 8 years, they went big with the ring.
Yeah, that's one giant Larry O'Brien Trophy made up of five smaller Larry O'Brien Trophy. And lots of diamonds.
Like #15 (Miami's 2006 ring), this one also lacks any mention of the team or city on the top. But the 6 trophies kind of tell the story.
8. 1998 Chicago Bulls
The Milwaukee Bucks' one and only championship ring is the best example of the classic diamond-set-inside-a-basketball motif. It's just so simple and sharp. And since it's from the olden days, when men typically didn't outshine women in the jewelry department, this one gets a pass on the lack of bling and color.
7. 1971 Milwaukee Bucks
How can you not love this ring? Well, if you're a Lakers or Knicks fan, yeah, you probably hate it. But everyone else has to love it, right? Simple but awesome, colorful, and with just a little bit of bling. Any man would be proud to wear this thing around.
6. 1984 Boston Celtics
Simple isn't always best. Sometimes it's good to have a ring that shouts, "LOOK AT ME MOTHERF#$&ERS!" Hence this awesome Bulls ring at #5. If the bull logo were made out of genuine rubies instead of this molded artificial stuff, this would probably be the greatest NBA Championship ring of all time. Still, number five aint bad.
5. 1993 Chicago Bulls
In terms of pure regal magnificence, this ring is tops in my books. You're got a simple, sharp Lakers logo in gold surrounded by loads of brilliant diamonds. It's totally over the top in the classiest way possible—not many championship rings can say that.
4. 2000 Los Angeles Lakers
This Pistons ring has it all: colorful team logo, sharp design, plenty o' diamonds. Actually, this one has a lot of ice for 1989. I bet Isiah Thomas looks like a pimp when he slips this baby on his finger, throws on his big fur coat, and heads out for a night on the town.
3. 1989 Detroit Pistons
This one is basically the contemporary equivalent of the Celtics' 1984 ring we saw back at #6. The 2008 version still has the beautiful shamrock as the focal point, only this time it's made of emeralds and surrounded entirely by diamonds. It's a modern classic.
2. 2008 Boston Celtics
I think the Bulls realized that their 1993 Bull-head championship ring just needed a little tweak to be ridiculously awesome. So they went back and revisited it after the 1997 Championship and came up with this maxed-out version. No more crappy manmade red gem for the bulls head—only incredible diamonds of various shaped and sizes.
In my opinion, this ring is the definition of awesomeness.
1. 1997 Chicago Bulls
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