From LeBron James down to the guy who sold you a hot dog on a Wednesday night at The Q, the entire Cavaliers’ family is getting a 2016 NBA championship ring. Majority owner Dan Gilbert and his partners decided to present rings to more than 1,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization, employees who’ve been fitted for rings told cleveland.com. A spokesman for the Cavs confirmed the information but declined to comment.
Of course, not every team employee will get the same, diamond crusted ring that’s going to rest on the fingers of James, and Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, but ticket takers, seat ushers, security guards, Cleveland police officers, and all who work behind the scenes at Cavs home games will be able to say they won a ring. And they’ll have proof. The same goes for rings commemorating the Lake Erie Monsters’ AHL Calder Cup victory from last season. Virtually all employees involved with Monsters’ operations, including some who work for the Columbus Blue Jackets (the Monsters’ NHL affiliate) will get rings.
The Cavs declined to say whether or not former coach David Blatt — who was fired in January — or former center Anderson Varejao (traded in February) were getting rings. But Gilbert is obviously in a mood to be inclusive. Varejao, who played for the Warriors against the Cavs in the Finals, told reporters out West the Cavs had offered him a ring. Anderson, who played for Cleveland from 2004-16, said he was unsure if he would accept.
Memphis Grizzlies co-owner and vice chairman Stephen Kaplan increased his stake in Immortals on Wednesday, marking the third major move by an NBA team owner in esports this week. Kaplan, who was already among a long list of investors highlighted by Machine Shop Ventures, will also join the company’s board. “We’re grateful for Steve’s continued support of the Immortals organization, and look forward to working with him on scaling up the esports industry,” Immortals CEO Noah Whinston told ESPN.com.
The news of Kaplan’s increased investment and responsibility comes on the heels of the Philadelphia 76ers acquiring Dignitas and Apex and Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber purchasing a controlling interest in Team Liquid on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
An ominous cloud looms over the Lakers, however. Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss said in 2014 he would step down if the Lakers do not become a Western Conference contender in three years. Lakers president Jeanie Buss has often said she would hold the front office accountable with unspecified changes if that does not happen. All of which perpetuates uncertainty on if Kupchak’s focus on development could conflict with Jeanie Buss’ focus on results. “I’m not in a position to debate the stuff you talked about,” Kupchak said on Tuesday at UC Santa Barbara. “I’m not sure what was said with certainty. From my point of view, we’ve created a team that has a lot of young talent that can grow into really good NBA players that can leave an imprint on this league. I think we’ve surrounded them with older veterans to help us win games. I’m excited about our coaching staff.”
The Lakers acquired some intriguing veteran, including a rim protector (Timofey Mozgov), a versatile forward (Luol Deng) and steady point guard (Jose Calderon). Yet, who knows how much any of those players can both produce and mentor as much as the Lakers hope they do. “I want to see improvement in the young players,” Kupchak said. “I want to see some production from our rookies and I want our team to be fun to watch. I want them to have fun playing. I want them to get better as the season goes along. But I don’t know how that translates into anything else under my control.”