LeBron, Cavs receive rings, raise Cleveland's 1st banner in 52 years

The city of Cleveland waited 52 years to win a major sports championship before the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors last June. But that doesn’t mean fans were any more patient in the four months between that title and the official unveiling of that long-coveted banner. Tuesday’s ring ceremony at Quicken Loans Arena brought that opportunity for yet another celebration of a classic victory.

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NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and teammates finally received their championship rings in a ceremony before Tuesday’s season opener against the visiting New York Knicks. The Cavs took center stage in celebration of their thrilling comeback from 3-1 down against the heavily favored Warriors, remembering highlights from that series and looking ahead to defending their title during the 2016-17 season.

After coaches and players received their rings, LeBron took to the microphone to thank fans for their support and build even more excitement for a historic night in Cleveland sports history (video above).

The Cavaliers moved up their ceremony and tip-off time 30 minutes to accomodate fans hoping to watch the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the World Series. That contest is taking place just right across the street at Progressive Field. The Indians have not won Major League Baseball’s championship since 1948, so 2016 has the potential to become a monumental season for the region’s sports fans.

The Cavs' rings are the heaviest in NBA history. (via Cavs.com)
The Cavs’ rings are the heaviest in NBA history. (via Cavs.com)

The Cavs’ rings are typically ornate in keeping with past NBA champions. Its many jewels also tell the story of the franchise, the 2015-16 season, and personal details for each recipient. Here are just some of those symbolic pieces, from the official press release:

The approximately 6.5 carat ring is encrusted with over 400 diamonds plus a one carat diamond that adorns the top of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Each ring is set in 10K white gold and 14K yellow gold and is the heaviest NBA Championship ring ever made, weighing in at 165 grams and 105 pennyweights. […]

The phrase “WORLD CHAMPIONS” is proudly displayed along the top and bottom bezel in 14K yellow gold. Each letter is framed in diamonds, using a total of 216 diamonds to represent Cleveland’s area code, as well as a nod to the popular “All In to 16” motto, which was a dominate theme of the Cavs playoff push. […]

In the background, 100 diamonds represent the number of Cavaliers playoff victories in the team’s history to win a championship.

On the interior side of the ring is a line of seven gemstones to represent the best-of-seven games in an NBA Finals series. In the order the games were won, three white diamonds depict the Golden State Warriors and four genuine “wine-colored” garnets represent the Cavaliers, symbolizing the first time in NBA history that any team has overcome a 3-1 deficit to become NBA Champions.

At the start of the NBA Playoffs, each Cavaliers player along with head coach Tyronn Lue was assigned a section of a 16-piece puzzle that represented the number of wins necessary for a championship, and that when fully assembled, piece-by-piece following every victory, would form the image of the Larry O’Brien trophy. A 14K yellow gold custom symbol depicting each players individual puzzle piece is embedded to personalize each ring. A round black diamond is another reminder of the positive impact of the team’s sleeved black uniforms.

The rings will not only go to the Cavs’ players, coaches, and executives. As revealed in late September, the team will give rings to roughly 1,000 full-time and part-time employees, including janitors and concession workers at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavs' rings feature details unique to each player. (via Cavs.com)
The Cavs’ rings feature details unique to each player. (via Cavs.com)

Now all the Cavs have to do is defend their title. New Knicks center Joakim Noah started opponents’ efforts to start them very, very early in this season:

Good luck in 2016-17, Cleveland. The rest of the league is already looking to dethrone the champs.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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