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Championship Traditions


Celebrating a hard-fought victory


Given the hard work and hours that go into building a winning team, it is not surprising that teams want to let loose and celebrate their achievements once they capture the coveted championship crown. Within the NBA, some traditions have become synonymous with success, beginning with legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach’s celebratory cigars back in the early days of the League. As the decades went by, a host of other traditions have come to symbolize a championship moment.


Championship ring: This used to be an optional commemorative gift, but it has become a time-honored NBA tradition to award this after each season. It has come to most strongly represent the NBA championship, with fans colloquially referring to the number of rings different players possess rather than titles. The ring has also grown more dazzling with time, possessing precious gems and inscribed with the team name, logo and year, with a personalized one for each player on the team.


Gatorade & champagne bath: This tends to happen right after the game, with the winning coach being doused in Gatorade, while the players exuberantly spray champagne all over each other in the locker room.
Victory parade: After team celebrations, the parade gives the team a chance to celebrate with their fans and the entire city. Nowadays, most teams charter an open-topped bus to bring the players around and show off the Larry O’Brien Trophy, while players express their appreciation for their fan bases.


Championship banner: Hanging from the rafters of NBA arenas, these banners are hoisted to the top in a grand ceremony to showcase for all eternity. Players of more storied franchises often look to the roof as they prep for a key game, to motivate themselves towards the ultimate prize.


Cutting down the nets: More of a collegiate tradition, this has turned into a catchphrase for celebrating success in many other domains. Purportedly originating from Indiana, players take turn to snip off the net with the coach having the honor of the last cut, with individual pieces of the net being brought home as souvenirs.