Optimism about a return of the NBA season — in a fanless bubble, but a return nonetheless — is growing around the league. Whether it’s Commissioner Adam Silver, owners, players, or executives, there is a growing belief that the season will resume in some form and a champion should be and will be crowned.
That sentiment is not universal.
Some think the NBA should just cancel the 2019-20 season and move on to the next one. Hall of Famer and Inside the NBA jokester Shaquille O’Neal is among them, as he told For The Win.
“I think we should scrap the season. Everybody go home, get healthy, come back next year. Just scrap the season. Just scrap it. To try and come back now and do a rush playoffs as a player? Any team that wins 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 playoff format? Nobody is going to respect that. So, scrap it. Worry about the safety of the fans and the people. Come back next year…
“Look, I understand how players are feeling. I really do. But any team that gets it done this year, there’s going to be an asterisk on that championship.”
Shaq is right about this: Even with full seven-game playoffs series in each round, there will be an asterisk in people’s minds about this title. This has been an unprecedented turn of events, one that is going to linger through sports leagues for years, and there’s no getting around the fact this season is now tarnished on some level.
That doesn’t mean the NBA should throw in the towel. There is no perfect season, luck is ALWAYS a factor (often in the form of injuries), and every season has its “what if?” moments. Whichever team wins this title can talk about perseverance, overcoming never-before-seen obstacles, and finding the will to win. That’s a good narrative.
Will the fan base of the team that wins care? No. Anyone think the Lakers would say “no way, this banner isn’t as good as all our others” and decide not to hang one up if LeBron James and company win?
The NBA should keep trying to find a way to play the season out. Let’s just hope they get to.