The last time the Washington Mystics were in the same room was the day after they won the 2019 WNBA title. The championship parade, training camp and the May start of the 2020 season were all casualties of the novel coronavirus pandemic, creating an eight-month separation that finally came to an end Sunday with an intimate and emotional, albeit understated, ring ceremony.

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have limited team interactions to online video conferences, but the Mystics found themselves together again at Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Va., for the private ceremony. Players were sitting at designated tables, distanced six feet apart, when a black polished box was placed in front of each of them. The room grew silent after owner Ted Leonsis gave the word to open the boxes.

“It was a really cool moment,” 2019 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne said. “You’d think it would be loud, but we were all kind of quiet because we were all just taking in the moment and just studying the rings. … They’re absolutely beautiful.

“I couldn’t stop looking at it. Heavy. It’s everything you imagine when you think of winning a world championship.”

The jewelry inside the boxes has 120 diamonds, 35 rubies and 23 sapphires set in 10-karat white gold. The details include the Mystics’ “DC” logo, the championship trophy, the Washington Monument, the Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial. There are also references to the 26 regular season wins and Washington’s Ward 8, where Entertainment and Sports Arena is located. One side reads “RUN IT BACK,” a reference to the team’s mantra after it fell in the previous year’s WNBA Finals.

Typically, ring ceremonies are held before a game in front of fans, but there is nothing typical about 2020. Leonsis and managing partner Sheila Johnson elected for an intimate affair at the resort where they could gather as a family. And that’s how forward Aerial Powers described it — a family affair.

“Finally seeing all the girls, it made me extremely happy,” Powers said. “The reason why we won the championship is because we all get along. We all like each other. We’re literally a family. Most teams try to say that, and they lie. We really are.

“It was fun to joke around with the girls and try to take as many pictures as we could, still trying to social distance. It was cool. We missed each other. … It was definitely extremely special. It was very intimate. It was a small group of us, not too many outsiders. It was just something for us. So it made it a lot more special. It was very heartwarming to do it in that type of setting.”

Leonsis, Johnson, Coach/General Manager Mike Thibault and Delle Donne spoke to the group. Highlight videos played. The organization had a victory rally the day after winning the title before the players went their separate ways. Thibault talked about the journey from taking over the team in 2013 after it had won 11 combined games the previous two seasons and how each individual arrived in the District.

The shortened 2020 season is on the horizon, with the team relocating to Florida next week and play expected to start in late July. But Sunday wasn’t about the future.

“It’s a different way of celebrating a championship, but it was still a special night,” Thibault said. “This makes it more real in a sense because without the normal season — not having an opening night with a banner going up and a normal celebration and a parade — this was special to our group to do it at least in a very nice setting and to see each other and celebrate this together.”

Everything officially changes next week, though. The roster will be drastically different, with Kristi Toliver gone to the Los Angeles Sparks and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough on the Phoenix Mercury. Starters Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders elected to opt out of the season. Former MVP Tina Charles and fellow veteran Essence Carson were added, but there will be no home-court advantage or fans to draw energy from. The season will be 22 games instead of 36, and it will all be played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

“It will be a very different environment,” Thibault said. “The team that goes down there and can adapt and not get flustered by unusual circumstances or things that may pop up and just try to stay even-keeled — that’s a big thing we’ll talk about. It’s different. There’s no pressure on us. Normally as a defending champion you’d have a different kind of pressure, but we’re going to a different place. It’s a different time.

“We’re getting paid to play a kids’ game and entertain in a tough time in our world all the way around. So embrace that, be upbeat and do what you can.”

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