National Basketball Association

A Different Kind Of Asterisk

July 1, 2020

With all the ways the the NBA season has been disrupted, many have suggested this season will come with an asterisk.

At least one current player agrees — but from a different perspective.

Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers told Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks that this year's title deserves a positive asterisk to recognize just how difficult of a journey it's been:

"I think whoever wins it should have [an] asterisk next to it. But only for it being one of the toughest championships ever won. ... Only season ever like this. EVER."

Rivers isn't alone in the sentiment. Giannis Antetokounmpo also told reporters on Wednesday that this championship will be unlike any other:

Of course, the idea of an asterisk is to mark a championship as different from all the others, often with the connotation as being less than a typical title.

Clippers coach (and Austin's father) Doc Rivers says that through that lens, the 2020 champion will deserve more than an asterisk:

And as our FOX Sports Insider Martin Rogers maintains, that resilience should indeed be celebrated:

"I get it. It will be different when things come back, but it’s just that — different. Not worse. Not tainted. Different.

"The hunt for the title doesn’t become a lottery. If anything, it should be held up as a special kind of triumph. Sports is a reflector of life in so many ways. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that mental resilience and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances are characteristics to be celebrated."

Yet at least one Hall of Famer has a different perspective. Back in May, Shaquille O'Neal explained that a long-shot champion in particular could mean the need for an asterisk:

"Any team that win this year, there's an asterisk. They're not going to get the respect.

"What if a team that's not really in the mix of things all of a sudden wins with a new play-off format? Nobody is going to respect that."

And our Skip Bayless says that these playoffs, which he believes are stacking up in LeBron's favor, will have to come with a caveat:

"They fell short of playing an 82-game season … It’s gonna be five months since [James] played a basketball game.

"He’ll be in the bubble, refreshed, reinvigorated, everything feeling good. ... The break is so long, it’s unprecedented, and it’s going to give a huge break to LeBron."

Speaking of LeBron, the Lakers and Bucks are tied for the best odds to win the title at +250, followed by the Clippers (+300), Rockets (+1600) and Celtics (+1800).

It's worth noting that every team had played at least 63 games prior to the NBA's hiatus. So teams in the bubble will end up playing at least 71 times, or 86.6% of a full season.

For comparison, the lockout-shortened 1999-00 and 2011-12 seasons were 66 and 50 games long, respectively, or 80.5% and 60.1% of a complete season.

Then again, neither featured a five-month break before the playoffs.

So what do you think? Head on over to @TheAssociation on Twitter and let us know!


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