Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

TORONTO — If the next-level size of the Toronto Raptors' championship ring doesn't drop jaws, the eye-popping bling definitely will.

Canada's lone NBA team went big — really, really big — for the 2019 championship rings that were presented to players Tuesday night before Toronto's regular-season opener against New Orleans.

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"Everyone is going to be in shock," said Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who was involved in the decision-making process. "That's why I was happy about the ring and the design because legit everyone is going to be in awe."

He was right, if the players' facial reactions during the pre-game ring ceremony were any indication.

The ring specifications are staggering.

A total of 74 diamonds — representing the number of wins last season and in the playoffs — are included in the ring's face, which features the team's 'North' chevron logo, Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto skyline, and a 1.25-carat diamond on top of the Larry O'Brien championship trophy.

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring, which is the largest NBA championship ring ever made, the team said.

"This is a ring that's not just for the team but for everyone that was involved in this historic run," said Shannon Hosford, the chief marketing officer at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "Every little piece was thought through."

The outer edge features 16 rubies along with jersey numbers from the team roster. The ring shoulder has the individual player name and jersey number — surrounded by diamonds, of course — with 'World Champions," '2019,' and the league and team logos on the other shoulder.

A personalized engraving is included on the inside of the ring, along with a ruby set inside a Maple Leaf. The ring was produced by Windsor, Ont.,-based Baron Championship Rings, which designed the Cleveland Cavaliers' championship ring in 2016.

"It's a showpiece masterpiece," said Baron president Peter Kanis. "It's something that's different than anything else that's been done before."

The players' rings were in the top tier of an order that included approximately 5,000 rings for Raptors and MLSE staff, a spokesman said.

The estimated retail price was not available.

"I would say that it is definitely probably the most valuable ring ever created in the NBA," Hosford said. "I think that's the accurate description of that."

Baron previously worked with MLSE on rings for Major League Soccer's Toronto FC, the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies and Raptors 905 of the NBA G League.

All gold and diamonds were sourced from Canada.

"We were just wowed by the product," Hosford said. "I think it represents everything we want. Something for our team, our country and most importantly, our fans."

The Raptors defeated the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks before knocking off the Golden State Warriors last spring to win their first NBA title.

The nearly 20,000 spectators on hand for Tuesday night's game against the Pelicans received replica rings for the occasion.

"We want to have our own unique story," Hosford said. "It's been 24 years before we won this. We're going into our 25th year. We're seen as the underdogs and look where we've come. There's a huge story (there).

"The ring is the piece that tells that story. So that was very important to us."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2019.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

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