In the summer of 2010, Miami Heat team president Pat Riley convinced superstar free agents LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to join forces in South Beach. The trio has been rewarded with NBA titles in each of the last two seasons and the iced out jewelry that comes along with the championship.
Yet, Bosh has somehow walked away with three championship rings out of the deal: his two and one from Riley's collection.
The nine-time champion has jewelry to spare and rarely lets that fact go unnoticed by top-line free-agent targets. But the negotiations with Bosh were apparently more costly than normal, as ESPN.com's Michael Wallace explains:
Riley dropped a bag full of title rings on LeBron's table in Cleveland during their 2010 meeting. He has flashed at least one of them to a few other free-agent targets over the years.
Bosh took matters a step further.
"He gave me one of his championship rings from 2006, and was like, 'You give me that back when you come here and win yours.'" Bosh said. "So I took it. I was like, 'Oh, man!' Don't tell me to take something if you don't want me to take it. I've still got it, too. But I told him I'd give it back after this year."
Two titles and nearly four years later, why would Bosh still be holding on to Riley's ring?
You wouldn't think Wade's remarkable run through the 2006 postseason (28.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 23 playoff games) would be a cherished part of Bosh's basketball story. Not when the big man's Toronto Raptors suffered through a 27-55 campaign the same season.
But maybe it's not the ring itself. Maybe it's the memory of that moment when Bosh's basketball life permanently changed.
Up until that point, Bosh had played seven seasons in the NBA. His Raptors had gone an underwhelming 254-320 (.443) during his tenure, twice making the playoffs but never once winning a series.
Despite his best efforts to change that narrative (22.8 points and 9.9 rebounds from 2005-10), that was his NBA reality—major stats but no results.
So much has changed since. He's lost a few numbers along the way (17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds with the Heat), but gained a place in history. Twice.
Riley's negotiating, that ring Bosh still carries with him, those are the things that brought him from style to substance.
"At the end of the day, you've got to look and see what's most important to you," Wade said in November, via Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "The last three years Chris has been in the Finals. Do you want that or to score more points? He wants to be known as a winner."
Bosh is a winner, and he has the bling to prove it. Although not all of its technically his, all of it is incredibly special.
"Bosh now has two rings of his own that he earned over the past two seasons in Miami. But the one from Riley he still possesses may mean almost as much," NBC Sports' Brett Pollakoff noted.
Maybe giving that ring back is akin to closing a chapter in Bosh's mind. Remember, Miami's Big Three can all opt-out of their current contracts at season's end.
If one, two or all three play that card, Riley will have to be back at his negotiating best. The legendary executive might need that ring back sooner than later, if that's the case.
The only thing more convincing than a table full of eight rings is one covered with nine.
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