Spurs add to ring collection, Finley just beginning his
SAN ANTONIO -- A lone spotlight beamed down on the center of the court at the AT&T Center on Tuesday, highlighting in all its golden glory the San Antonio Spurs' latest championship trophy.
"San Antonio: Where dynasties happen," NBA commissioner David Stern said.
And with that the Spurs held the final celebration of their fourth title in nine seasons before getting started on defending it in the season opener against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Demonstrating the team-first attitude Stern said the Spurs embody, the team's rings -- 14-karat gold and bearing almost 4.5 carats of diamonds -- were handed out first to the coaches, then to players in alphabetical order.
"You know better than I do that your Spurs play with a team-first and a community-first attitude," Stern said. "That has made them the apple of your eye and has also make them four-time NBA champions."
The Spurs swept LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games for the title. The celebration in San Antonio lasted several days, culminating with a parade along the city's famed River Walk and a party at the Alamodome.
The handmade rings -- with diamonds in round, princess and baguette shapes -- say "NBA Champions" on the face and show the team's spur logo. In all, 21 rings were doled out in the pregame ceremony Tuesday. Eleven players from last year's team are returning this season.
"It's beautiful. It's a very nice ring, one of our best," Tim Duncan said after the Spurs beat Portland 106-97.
On one side of the ring is the Spurs' playoff record of 16-4, the NBA logo and the player's number and name. On the other side is the year, 2007, and a hammer splitting a rock.
"You are truly the best fans in the NBA," Duncan told the cheering crowd during the ceremony.
After getting their rings, several players showed their sparkling fists off to fans and closely examined their new diamond-encrusted hardware. It was the seventh ring for veteran Robert Horry and the fourth for Duncan, but for several players, such as veteran Michael Finley, it was their first.
Perhaps the greatest cheer from the audience came at the close of the ring ceremony, when high in the rafters of the arena a black veil was slowly retracted from the bottom up to reveal the Spurs' newest championship banner.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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