Well, they earned it. The Golden State Warriors received their championship rings and unveiled their title banner before Tuesday night’s season opener against the Pelicans. Golden State, led by MVP Stephen Curry’s 40 points, defeated the Pelicans 111–95. Curry, who scored 24 first-quarter points, helped the Warriors avoid a banner night hangover.
In front of a packed Oracle Arena, Golden State recognized the franchise’s three previous championship teams before ownership took to center court with commissioner Adam Silver. Alongside the Larry O’Brien trophy, Silver acknowledged head coach Steve Kerr, the players and fans before handing out the hardware. Front office personnel, coaching staff and players filed out one by one to accept their rings. Fittingly enough, the beat for Drake’s “Trophies” played in the background.
“This is an unbelievable night for us players, the coaching staff, the front office ... but especially for Dub Nation,” said reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who took the microphone for a few words. “You guys support us every night, every single year.” As the team gathered at center court (donning noteworthy, fresh white championship jackets) the banner was unveiled.
Here’s video of the ring ceremony in its entirety:
Unveiling of the 2015 NBA championship banner:
Though Steve Kerr’s recovery from back surgery prevented him from coaching Tuesday's game, the Warriors head coach was on hand for the ceremony. Pelicans coach and ex-Warriors aide Alvin Gentry also took part. The only member notably absent from last year’s team was David Lee, who was not on hand as he prepares for Boston’s game in Philadelphia Wednesday night.
The rings themselves? Not bad. Luxury jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills, whose portfolio includes custom pieces for Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and past NBA champs Dwyane Wade and LeBron James was commissioned to put these diamond-studded beauties together.
“It's a night that these guys will remember the rest of their lives,” Warriors assistant Luke Walton, filling in for Kerr in the interim, said Monday, as reported by the San Jose Mercury-News. He told reporters that the team had discussed remaining focused at practice and was fully aware of the need to be prepared for the game. “That being said, you can't help but be excited about it and not have 100 percent of your focus on the game and the team you're playing. We know that, and we're hopeful that we'll get our rings, we'll be happy, and then we'll be able to transition our mindset to beating the Pelicans.”
Gentry told Pelicans.com that he expected the whole situation to feel a bit weird.
“I think it will be strange,” Gentry said. “It’s going to be a little bit different, in that these are people we did something really special with and together, so you have a closeness there. But after that whole (ring ceremony) is over, we have to find a way to compete and beat those guys, which is not going to be easy. But I think it’s great. You spend your whole life trying to get to where we got last year, and that’s to win a championship in this league. It took me 27 years to do that. It’s something really, really special and something you’ll never forget.”
Golden State swept New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs in a series that was much closer than the eventual results showed, including the Warriors’ thrilling overtime win in Game 3. Anthony Davis returns along with a currently banged up supporting cast as the Pelicans look for a splashy opening-night upset. After a season where nearly everything went right for the Warriors, now begins the tough part.