The COVID-19 virus has accomplished what many deemed to be impossible: bring the sports world to a standstill. The NBA was a month away from completion of its regular season when the season was abruptly postponed after learning that Utah Jazz’ center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers had the NBA’s best records when league play was postponed. It can be reasoned that these two teams were on a collision course to meet in the 2020 NBA Finals before the regular season was postponed. League play will most likely resume sometime this calendar year. It’s yet to be determined if the league will resume the regular season, transition straight into playoff games, or even shorten the playoff best of seven series to a best of five or even a best of three series.
Assuming league play resume, and an NBA champion will be crowned this season, will their title be considered illegitimate? Critics can denote the title with an asterisk because of the forced sabbatical imposed on NBA players. Of course, this doesn’t consider that teams were unable to practice, workout at their respective facilities, or participate in any additional team activities. It’s impossible to keep physically fit and mentally sharp considering the presence of COVID-19.
There’s one team that could win the NBA title without its legitimacy being questioned: the Lakers. Superstar forward LeBron James was enjoying one of his finest seasons before league play was stopped, averaging a league best 10.6 assists per game. Supported by seven time All Star forward Anthony Davis, James and the Lakers were poised to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Los Angeles is also the inspirational favorite to win the title. Former Laker great Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter accident on January 26. On April 4, it was announced that Bryant will enter the NBA Hall of Fame posthumously this year. The tragic and untimely death of Bryant, his 13 year old daughter Gianna, and seven other passengers will serve as additional motivation for the Lakers to win their 17th NBA title, tying them with the Boston Celtics for most titles in NBA history.
NBA fans and players are anxious to resume consumption of the NBA season. Right now, keeping everyone safe from COVID-19 is of utmost importance. Whenever the time comes and society returns to some sense of normalcy, another NBA champion will be crowned despite seemingly insurmountable odds concerning COVID-19. History will be then determine the legitimacy of said championship.