NBA

Will the 2020 NBA Championship Have an Asterisk?

March 6, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second half at Staples Center.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Will the 2020 NBA Championship have an Asterisk?

Critics will always find a reason to add an asterisk to any teams’ success. Look no further than the 2019 NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors. Many people will be quick to point out the injuries the Warriors faced in that series. Another recent example is Draymond Green’s suspension in the 2016 NBA Finals. Asterisks were added to the Warriors championships due to injuries on teams they faced.

For months now, many people have speculated how a potential 2020 NBA Champion would be viewed. The word “asterisk” has been thrown around a lot. When it comes to sports and the aforementioned “asterisk,” it usually has somewhat of a negative connotation. Assuming the season can go on, there will eventually be winners for the 2020 NBA Championship. There is no doubt that people will be quick to stamp an asterisk next to the winner. However, this asterisk should be different. It should be positive. As Doc Rivers put it, it should be a “gold star.” 

Unique Conditions of the Season

These are unprecedented times. That phrase barely even begins to scratch the surface of what the world is going through right now. The COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter Movement and much more. One can only imagine what it must feel like to be in Disney World with more than 300 other NBA players.  On top of all of this, players have had to leave behind their families for an extended period of time.

Players like Pascal Siakam and Khris Middleton said they didn’t even touch a basketball for months and now have to get back into playoff shape. For the players that are lucky enough to make it to the Finals in October, they would have been without their families and loved ones for roughly four months. Many players have young children and possibly will have children being born during the restart. Denis Schroder and Gordon Hayward have said they will leave the bubble for the birth of their children. During this time, basketball is secondary.  

All of these issues that are outside basketball will no doubt have an effect on the players’ minds and mental stability during the restart. It is because of these reasons that this year’s champion should have that positive asterisk. The mental fortitude it takes to win any sort of championship in any sport is elite. To do it in these conditions with the rest of the world watching, will be unparalleled.  It has been roughly two weeks since players started arriving in the bubble down in Orlando.

Many of them have spoken about the difficulties of making the decision to join their team in the restart and the sacrifices that they had to make. Much of this relates to their ability to use their platform to make a change when it comes to racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement. They understand how difficult this current situation is. Giannis himself has addressed it by saying, “I feel like this is going to be the toughest Championship you could ever win.” 

It is clear that the players’ minds are a little preoccupied right now for obvious reasons. Should the season play out without any significant hiccups and we crown a champion, they should be celebrated. Not only for their success on the court, but for their mental fortitude as well. When we look back on 2020 and see an NBA Champion’s name etched into history with an asterisk, just remember why. 

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