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Courtesy Blue Nile

Storm Unveils Ring to Remember Unique Season

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Kevin Pelton, StormBasketball.com | May 4, 2011
Not long after the confetti had finished falling on the Seattle Storm's championship celebration at KeyArena last September, thoughts turned to the spoils of victory: the championship rings players, coaches and staff would receive to commemorate the second WNBA title in franchise history. That process, led by Storm President and CEO Karen Bryant and Force 10 Hoops LLC, the team's ownership group, culminated Wednesday in the presentation of a ring designed by Blue Nile.

"I think from the owners' perspective," said Bryant, "it really was an opportunity for the ownership group specifically to demonstrate their appreciation, gratitude and privilege for being a part of this whole thing. It really was important to the owners that the ultimate result of this process would be a symbol that matches what the athletes and the coaching staff accomplished last year. We wanted to capture the uniqueness of the 2010 season - the accomplishments off the court, the chemistry among the players and the staff and what a pivotal year it was for our franchise.

"As we unveil the design of this ring, I could not be more proud of the partnership with Blue Nile and the ring that they have designed. I think not only did it fulfill all the things we set out to accomplish, it quite honestly exceeded our expectations."

The relationship between the Storm and Blue Nile, the world's premier online jeweler, started with a chance meeting. Bryant happened to attend a function at which Blue Nile CEO Diane Irvine was honored. At the end of the evening, Bryant introduced herself and explained that the Storm was looking for a jeweler to design and produce the championship rings. Irvine's initial enthusiasm was the first hint that the two Seattle-based companies would prove the right fit for each other.

"Very early in our initial meeting with Blue Nile," said Bryant, "we knew they were the perfect choice because of their commitment to quality, their commitment to excellence, the fact that they are a local company that is now enjoying international success and the passion and talent of their team."

By January, after soliciting feedback from players and coaches, the Storm completed an RFP and invited vendors to submit their proposals. From the six groups who showed interest, four were selected to participate in two rounds of interviews and offer a preliminary design. Blue Nile's ring design, named The Arena, was an obvious choice from this process.

"When they presented their design options, at first glance The Arena design really struck an emotional chord," explained Bryant. "The fact that what they took away from their opening meeting with us resulted in a ring design that was classy and beautiful and simultaneously gave a very compelling nod to our fans was extremely impressive. For us, that made the decision right there. From the time I flipped that page and saw the ring design for the first time, I knew that would be our ring."

SHARE THE LOVE: WIN COURTSIDE TICKETS FOR OPENING DAY

In addition to designing the Storm's championship rings, Blue Nile is giving you the opportunity to win courtside tickets to see the rings handed out during the Storm's Celebration of Champions on Opening Day, June 4 against Phoenix.

Invite your friends to join you on Opening Day. The fan who brings the most friends will sit courtside in the Blue Nile Diamond Seats for the championship ring ceremony and banner raising. More Details >>

In a nod to the unprecedented home court advantage the Storm enjoyed at KeyArena, the championship rings are designed to resemble the inner bowl of a basketball arena. At center court sits the "S" Storm bug logo. To highlight the Storm's accomplishments throughout the season, the team's record-tying 28-6 regular-season record is represented on one side of the ring along with the WNBA championship trophy. The other side features the WNBA logo along with the player's name and number.

The players' primary request for the ring was to get "bling" befitting a championship. Dozens of Blue Nile diamonds decorate the ring, which is made of white gold, to accomplish that goal. Bryant jokes that there isn't room for a single more diamond on the ring.

Of all the tangible symbols of the Storm's championship season, the ring might be the most meaningful. Every team gets the same trophy and raises a similar banner, but the ring offers a chance for customization to reflect the championship team. The championship rings unveiled Wednesday will also bond everyone who played a part in the Storm's title run.

"Long after we all go our separate ways and think back on this point in our lives, the most meaningful symbol we will all share is the ring itself," said Bryant. "For pro sports organizations, the pinnacle of success is winning the championship. The championship ring is really the symbol of all that you accomplish as a group."

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