Even for the most hardened NBA observer, championship ring ceremonies can put a lump in your throat. Being a fan of the celebrated team hardly matters, getting to see either a star of stars take in a well-earned ring, or an end-of-the-bench veteran finally grab what he's long cherished … it's something else. As anyone who has ever had to hide teary eyes from a college dorm roommate after watching Jerome Kersey take in the 1999 championship ring can attest to; not that I would know anything about that.
Kersey's grab as a San Antonio Spurs came in October of 1999, but by the time the Spurs took part in the ceremonies celebrating their 2004-05 NBA title, these celebrations were old hat. Which is why Tim Duncan convinced then-teammate Brent Barry to plant a kiss on a very old man. Namely, NBA commissioner and longtime ring-bearer David Stern.
Brent discussed as much in a recent interview with BuzzFeed's Nicolas Schwartz:
"[Tim Duncan] offered a sum, I considered it and waited for my name to be called. As I approached the Commish I felt like I couldn't let my captain down. So after a quick 'Congratulations Brent' from David I hugged him and planted one right on his cheek. To this day, I swear he and grandma have the same skin.
"As I moved slowly from the spotlight as it found the next player, I casually glanced over to Tim and, wiping my tongue with my finger tips as if something flakey remained from my time with Mr. Stern, I mouthed the words: 'You owe me a hundred bucks!'"
As Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk noted, the best part about this story may have come two years after the buss. During a pregame meeting in the Spurs locker room prior to the ring ceremony celebrating the Spurs' 2006-07 NBA championship, Stern pulled Barry aside to tell him that he would not be getting to first base during that night's televised ring ceremony, and to not to try to emulate his 2005 performance no matter the stakes.
Barry, mindful of the (figurative!) bodies Stern has strewn about, wisely backed off:
We don't have video of the 2005 kiss, but perhaps more importantly, we do have video of Brent Barry visiting the set of the "Wayans Brothers" in 1996. Pucker up: