From “The Last Dance” to “The Answer,” the NBA and its Jewelry Always Dazzles

Michael Jordan himself was known for rocking a thick, 1980s-era gold rope chain in his first few NBA seasons.

While we’ve all been doing our best to stay at home – and stay sane and entertained – during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the more popular programs on television has been ESPN’s Michael Jordan/Chicago Bulls title-team documentary “The Last Dance.”

As the NBA has grown, evolved and expanded into a global game and phenomenon, aspects like the crossover dribble, the windmill dunk and the “Super Team” have become synonymous with the league. Right up there with these NBA staples? Dramatic, flashy and pricey jewelry pieces.

Jordan himself was known for rocking a thick, 1980s-era gold rope chain in his first few NBA seasons, even competing in the 1985 and 1987 NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contests in prominent gold chains. But as his “brand” exploded into the stratosphere along with his dunks and he began to collect the one piece of jewelry every NBA player dreams of the most – Championship rings – he became known more for his “Air Jordan” sneakers and “Jordan Brand” apparel line of workout shorts, track suits and more.

Then came the infamous and controversial 2005 NBA “dress code,” which saw then-commissioner David Stern enact strict rules on what players were allowed to wear while arriving at and leaving league arenas – as well as what they could don while sitting on the bench during games. Chief amongst these new restrictions was…a jewelry ban.

In today’s big-money NBA, the gametime arrival has become something like a runway show, but if you look closely amongst the fashionable, edgy, sometimes wild displays of dress-up that now unfold, you’ll notice that big-time bling is not part of the modern player’s ensemble. It seems, alas, that prominent, big-ticket jewelry on (or near) the court has also seen its “Last Dance” in NBA circles – even though Stern has since retired and passed away and current commissioner Adam Silver is as player-friendly as they come.

With all this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the all-time innovators, trend-setters and jewelry-donners in NBA history, shall we?

Allen Iverson

Throughout his star-studded, 17-season NBA career, tough-as-nails guard Allen Iverson was known as “AI” and “The Answer.” If you ever saw Iverson in his prime off the court, it would be hard not to wonder if The Question was something along the lines of, “How much pricey jewelry can one man wear?” Renowned as much for his impact on American pop culture as his trend-setting, ankle-breaking “killer crossover” dribble, Iverson was often seen rocking a staggering amount of “bling” – including dazzling diamond jewelry. In fact, Iverson was the primary reason Stern enacted the controversial “dress code” back in 2005. Even a decade past his 2010 retirement, Iverson continues to make headlines over his balled-out, blinged-out jewelry collection.

Carmelo Anthony

From a college basketball National Championship at Syracuse to successful stints with five NBA teams to four Olympic Gold Medals, including three Golds (talk about a nice piece of jewelry), Carmelo Anthony has carved out a career most basketball players could only dream of. Anthony has also earned in excess of $238 million in NBA contracts — more than $1 million of which he has reportedly invested into a truly “baller” jewelry collection. The man they call “Melo” is particularly renowned for his pricey watch collection, which has been hailed as “the biggest watch collection in the NBA” by one publication.

James Harden

As the reigning NBA scoring champion and the owner of the league’s most prominent and marketable facial hair, Houston Rockets guard James “The Beard” Harden stands as one of the true luminaries and superstars in today’s NBA. Equally as dazzling and brilliant? Harden’s jewelry collection. Harden led the NBA with an eye-popping 36.1-point scoring average during the 2018-19 season, and was averaging a league-best 34.4 before the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on the 2019-20 season. His array of shiny, pricey timepieces and assorted jewelry pieces is every bit as prolific and prominent, as this video vividly displays. And like Anthony, Harden is also the proud owner of Olympic Gold (2012 Olympics).

The 2018 Golden State Warriors

By winning three NBA Championships in four years from 2015-2018 (and going 73-9 during the 2015-16 season), the Golden State Warriors cemented themselves as an all-time NBA dynasty. But while based in California’s Bay Area, the Warriors saw their 2018 Championship rings concepted and carved out by a Beverly Hills-based jeweler named Jason Arasheben (aka Jason of Beverly Hills). To commemorate the 2018 title team, the Iranian-born Jason created the first-ever NBA championship rings with a customizable face – as it alternates between blue sapphires and white diamonds with a simple twist of the top. The mind-bending rings include 74 sapphires, 74 diamonds and design elements such as the Bay Bridge and the motto, “Strength in Numbers.” Jason also played a role in the design of the Warriors’ 2015 and 2017 championship rings.

Michael Jordan

After the debate over who is the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) between “MJ” and current league luminary LeBron James began to heat up in recent years, the successful pandemic-era airing of “The Last Dance” has served to at least temporarily silence such questions, reminding everyone that Jordan not only secured six NBA titles in an eight-year period, but also helped redefine and inspire everything and everyone from basketball to fashion to sneakers to branding and beyond. Truly a multi-national “crossover” sensation, Jordan made everyone want to “Be Like Mike” – and he did so while trading in those early-career gold rope chains for enough Championship rings to require two hands. In some of the interview portions of “The Last Dance,” Jordan is seen wearing a silver rope chain.

Here at Zillion, we’re always game for helping people insure their treasured jewelry pieces. Our team remains fully staffed, working remotely to support you in all your needs – whether you’re a potential customer seeking a quote or an existing customer filing a claim. We even offer an array of helpful tips and insights into jewelry and jewelry insurance here within our blog – ranging from how to protect and clean your diamond ring to our comprehensive Ultimate Jewelry Guide. We’ve even taken a closer look at pricey athlete jewelry collections that went missing. So spend some time with us while you’re staying safe at home, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help you!


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