Weeks after winning the Finals against the Orlando Magic, Sasha Vujacic said in an interview in China, “When I get the ring, I’m gonna kiss it first and I’m gonna think about it for a second. All the hard work and everything that I did in the past, not only me but all my teammates, paid off. I just can’t wait till October 27 to go to Staples Center and get that ring. Definitely I’m gonna carry it with me all the time.”
Last night, Sasha and his teammates as well as the coaching and training staff finally received the ultimate icing on their cake — the 2008-2009 championship ring.
Championship rings have gone bigger and heavier since the Philadelphia Warriors won the first championship title in 1947 and received a ring with a diamond chip. Back in the day, the jewelry was small and simple. The rings weren’t as unique as they are now as the league office designed rings that were similar from year-to-year.
This time around, the rings are as impressive as the Lakers’ records. The 2008-2009 Lakers’ blinding bling boasts 14 diamonds and 15-karat gold to commemorate the franchise’s championship titles. Other fun facts about the ring manufactured by the company Jason of Beverly Hills: It takes the shape of Staples Center’s exterior; each player had their images and jersey numbers laser-engraved and etched on their rings; there’s also a diamond-engraved “L” on the rings, though you will need the help of a high-powered microscope to see it. “We are bringing a little more flair and a little more of LA’s lifestyle to this piece which has never been seen before. What is really unique about this particular ring is that it’s not just a regular ring, it actually has tons of hidden meanings within the ring that give the ring a story. A story unlike any other ring has ever had,” Jason Arasheben shared with NBA.com.
Yesterday’s festivities started with a video showing the highlights of the last season, after which the Laker girls wheeled out the championship trophy. NBA commissioner David Stern and Lakers executive vice-president Jeanie Buss were on hand to present the rings to the Lakers who were wearing purple and gold warm-up jackets with 15 gold stars on the back. Thunderous cheers exploded as the two-toned jewelries were given out.
In connection with the team’s 50th anniversary season in Los Angeles, the ring presentation also featured Lakers legends who represented the previous nine championship teams in Los Angeles: Jerry West (1972), Norm Nixon (1980), Jamaal Wilkes (1982), James Worthy (1985), Michael Cooper (1987), Magic Johnson (1988), A.C. Green (2000), Rick Fox (2001) and Robert Horry (2002). Magic Johnson proudly greeted his fellow winners: “From the former champions to the present champions – congratulations!”
Derek Fisher also delivered a short speech before leading a countdown to reveal the Lakers’ 15th championship banner. “Tonight is such a special night for all of our team… the support from you has just been unbelievable for all these years. We cannot do this, what we’re about to do, without you,” Fisher said to the sellout Staples Center crowd. Fans cheered to the strains of Randy Newman’s “I love LA” as the new banner was raised high atop the arena.
Sasha commented on the emotional pregame presentation: “We had all summer to cry. It was great emotion, it was unbelievable what they did for us. We definitely enjoyed the moment, but it was something we did last year and we have a new journey now.”
After the ring ceremony, Sasha and the rest of the team placed their rings on a table next to the Larry O’Brien trophy. On that note, another chapter in Lakers illustrious history concluded. Jeffrey Osborne sang the national anthem and the team proceeded to bag their 9th straight win against crosstown rivals Los Angeles Clippers.
And so began a new chapter which could hopefully lead to Sasha collecting his second championship ring.