When the Lakers won their first NBA title under Phil Jackson 20 years ago, it was a championship that somehow came from the bargain business. There was a work problem that limited the regular NBA season to just 50 games. So it was when the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup 2014. They had a lot of energy to run around with the trophy since they only had to play 48 games. When we think of the Raiders’ Super Bowl win after the 1982 season, we remember that the team only had to play nine games before entering the playoffs.
OK, I admit: every word in this first paragraph is a lie, even “and” and “that”. I made it all up.
There have been champions in reduced seasons, mostly due to labor disputes, but almost no one remembers who they are. In fact, it was Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins, the first of three Super Bowls who followed a shortened 1982 schedule. The 1999 San Antonio Spurs won in a lockout-shortened season, as did the 2013 Stanley Cup, which the Chicago Blackhawks claimed.
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It seems doubtful whether anyone will forget 2020 for the rest of their lives. However, when it comes to the championships won during this pandemic, it is profoundly inaccurate to assume that each of these titles has an asterisk.
Instead, they deserve an exclamation mark.
We don’t know who will win the NBA Championship, Stanley Cup or World Series this fall. We are certain that every team that arrives at this time has weathered circumstances that go far beyond the challenges of a typical season.
Baseball players do not return to their various teams until 110 days after the end of spring training on March 12th. How long does that take in baseball? Only 103 days passed between the end of the World Series 2019 and the first day that pitchers and catchers were reported for spring training 2020. You will play 60 games, each of which will increase in consequence due to the shortened schedule.
Ice hockey players have to deal with extended Stanley Cup playoffs. To finally reach a Stanley Cup behind the individual superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Edmonton Oilers have to go through five rounds, including a harrowing best-of-five play-in round against the Blackhawks.
The NBA still intends to end its regular season more or less with 22 teams playing eight “seeding” games to establish playoff positions, and then possibly some “play-in games” when the teams target the Places eight and nine in each conference remain tightly bundled.
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All of this must be achieved with teams that return to training and have had breaks that are unparalleled in every sport. Access to ice or basketball courts was restricted for almost all players and almost nonexistent for a while.
There are still those who want to give less importance to the results achieved this year. Drew Gooden, a 14-year-old professional who was an All-American in Kansas, insisted on the Wizards Talk podcast that every NBA title won this year deserves an “asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk” . He repeated it four times to make his point clear.
And then he used slang to underline it even more: “I think this is the most nervous tire season ever.” According to the Urban Dictionary, “jenky” is a term that means “of low quality”.
For the players who have been waiting for months to know if they will play again at all, who have to decide whether to take part in the competition – either in a bubble or a hub city or simply in an empty stadium – and at least take some risk It is hard to imagine that many feel that what they want to achieve is less great if they get infected with the corona virus by agreeing to play.
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“I think whoever wins should have an asterisk next to it. But only to be one of the toughest championships ever won, ”Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers told Turner Sports Taylor Rooks. “You ask the boys to take 3-4 months off, then come back and find chemistry etc. and then play during a pandemic while the boys fight for Black Lives Matter. Crazy times and a lot of worry.
“And during this time, the boys leave their families and will live in a closed bubble. For all these and other reasons, I think it will be one of the tougher championships ever won. “
A championship won in the 2020 season could earn two banners.
The first could say: we survived.
And the second: We won the damn thing.