By rallying to win the 1998 NBA Finals, the Utah Jazz would be doing some Chicago Bulls employees a big favor, possibly saving them from brain spasms, emotional distress or other mental disorders caused by an overwhelming pressure to be creative.
You see, the Bulls already have five championship rings in the 1990s. Each has its own distinctive design. And if a sixth ring is added to the collection, it, too, will need to be completely different from the others.A ring, by nature, must be somewhat circular in shape and fit around a person's finger. Its confined size, weight and structure limit the aesthetic possibilities.
It could take a Michael Jordan-like effort to come up with a sixth unique design for a ring that, if the Bulls win another title, would be displayed beside the other five on players' hands and in a case at the Bulls' United Center gift shop.
"I have a feeling, if we're fortunate enough to reach that point, it won't be a problem," said Tom Smithburg, the Bulls' manager of media services. "(Owner) Jerry Reinsdorf has the ultimate say, and his wife, Martyl, is a former jewelry designer so she plays a role in it."
OK, maybe the Bulls could handle the artistic production of a sixth ring. But by winning the title, the Jazz also would save Reinsdorf thousands of dollars - money he could use to buy another overrated has-been for his struggling American League baseball team, the Chicago White Sox.
The NBA gives a designated amount of money - about $40,000 - to each year's championship franchise for ring purchases. That's about $2,000 apiece for 20 rings for players and coaches.
If ownership wants to give anyone else, like office employees, a ring or if it wants to spend more than $2,000 on each ring, it must finance the overage itself.
"If they really want to go crazy, a team can go way above what is usually done," said NBA spokesman Chris Brienza, adding that the league must approve all championship ring designs. "If a team wants to spend $6,000 per ring, they can do that. But they've got to cover the cost."
The five Chicago championship rings are valued between $4,000 and $9,000. Each time, Reinsdorf has ordered about 100 rings so that every full-time Bulls employee can have one.
With the Bulls needing only a victory in Salt Lake City Sunday or Wednesday - to be six-cessful, perhaps Reinsdorf could allow his ring designers to get a head start on the project. Maybe his wife already has penned a rough sketch of how the next ring might look?
"No way is there a design on the table right now," Smithburg insisted, saying ownership isn't about to take anything for granted. "That would occur sometime in July."
Besides, there's really no hurry. Players for the winning team won't get their rings until the first game of next season, anyway. Sometimes, the orders aren't submitted to the ringmakers - either Jostens or Balfour - until September.
Back in Utah, Sandy resident and Jazz season ticket-holder Gary Deaton wouldn't mind having a championship ring of his own. Deaton, a businessman, has toyed with the idea of creating a fans' version of the NBA Championship ring similar to what the Jazz players might get, if and when Utah wins a title.
"Why not?" Deaton said before the Finals began. "Everybody is saying they want that ring. I feel like the fans are as big a part of this" as the players and team employees.
But Deaton isn't likely to suffer a cerebral cramp from straining to create his own ring under pressure. He might have plenty of time, at least another year, to come up with a suitable design.