Avery Bradley may not be joining the Lakers in Orlando when the NBA season restarts later this month, but he has been an integral part of the team for more games than he’ll miss. The 29-year-old guard played in 49 games this season, starting 44, as the Lakers went 36-13. He was particularly impactful down the stretch and had his best game of the season against the Clippers right before the league suspended play.
He’ll go down in history as a part of the 2019-20 team, and that’s why Rob Pelinka made it clear to Bradley that if the Lakers win the NBA title this year, the team would award the veteran guard a championship ring.
Bradley told Yahoo Sports that it was a “very kind gesture”, but he is not sure if he would want the ring:
“Will I accept the ring? I’m neither here nor there about it,” Bradley told Yahoo Sports. “I am 10 years in this league. The physical possession of a ring doesn’t make me feel like more or less of a person. I play basketball strictly for enjoyment and to add to the support of my family. Supporting them is exactly what I’m doing right now.”
It is somewhat out of the ordinary for a player to not accept a ring, even if they were not factors in the postseason. Anderson Varejao didn’t want his 2016 championship ring from the Cavaliers after finishing the season with Golden State, but that could be because he subsequently lost to Cleveland in the Finals. Players who are injured and unable to participate in the postseason (Caron Butler in 2011 comes to mind) take great pride in their rings as a symbol of their contribution to the full championship season.
Players may have varying levels of attachment to the jewelry itself, but it is uncommon for them not to receive the ring in the first place.
Then again, this is uncommon season, and Bradley made a brave, yet rare, choice to prioritize his family over competing for a championship. He has shown the courage of his convictions to sit out, and he may decide to follow up on that by refusing a ring for a playoff run he doesn’t participate in.
The fact remains that the Lakers would be happy to have this discussion in a few months because it means that there was a ring to award and a championship to celebrate. For now, this is just a hypothetical situation, and Bradley has every right to make his own decision.