LeBron James does not want the NBA season to be canceled.
But if play is to resume, one would have to assume it will be in some modified format. Which has led to questions as to whether any champion would be legitimate, including by our own Chris Mannix. And he is not alone.
So, if the NBA is to finish the season, would any championship be tainted? Here's the case for yes and no.
Tainted: The NBA suspended the season on March 11th meaning players have been inactive since with some having better access to equipment than others. None of us know if and when it will begin again, but regardless we are talking months. How might halting abruptly and then trying to ramp up competition alter the outcome? And if facilities open for some teams earlier than they do for others isn't that an unfair competitive advantage?
Legitimate: NBA seasons have been shortened before. For instance in 1998-1999 teams played only 50 games due to a lockout. Do people take that title away from Tim Duncan and the Spurs? And in 2011-2012 there were 66 contests for the same reason. That just so happened to be LeBron's first championship. I'm pretty sure it still counts. With Michael Jordan in the news so much recently, one would think people wouldn't make excuses for any team that loses.
In my opinion, the NBA can absolutely still crown a legit champion. Are we so miserable in quarantine that we would already attempt to sully something that could bring solace? There may be some differences for players and teams, but for the most part the conditions everyone is dealing with are the same. Game recognize game and real recognize real. And I would certainly recognize any NBA title this season as such.
Or as Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry put it (whose team just happens to have the best record in the league) when discussing any edge some teams might have, "That's life".
As we know, for many, ball is life. And given everything, there's a strong argument a ring this season would be even more special.