Details for a resumed NBA season during the coronavirus pandemic are still being worked out, but if the season does resume, should the team that comes out on top be crowned the NBA champion? SI's Chris Mannix shares his thoughts on whether or not that should be the case.
Robin Lundberg: There has been a lot of talk about whether any resumed NBA season should have an astrisk, I've argued no, but SI senior basketball writer Chris Mannix believes that a championship shouldn't even be handed out. Chris, what's your solution?
Chris Mannix: Well, look, it's a foregone conclusion at this point that the NBA will find a way to resume. Adam Silver has been in contact with Michele Roberts constantly throughout the last couple of weeks, trying to figure out the logistics of all this. I just wonder if after what will eventually be four months of a hiatus, can you crown a legitimate champion? Because this is not going to be a continuation of where it began and where the NBA left off. This is going to be a whole new thing.
You have got teams that will look decidedly different. The Philadelphia 76ers are going to have Ben Simmons back for the playoffs. They wouldn't have under a traditional format. Utah Jazz just lost Bojan Bogdanovic for the rest of the season. That's a 20 point-per-game scorer that's taken off their roster. If you want to break it down even further, you can look at a player like Mike Conley Jr, who literally has a basketball court in his house and is able to workout every day. Whereas players like Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo have barely been able to work out any, if at all, during this hiatus.
So I think with all of those factors, you have to kind of look at it as something completely different and call it that. Don't call it a championship. Call it something else.
Robin Lundberg: What about the counterargument that it would carry extra significance happening in this time and the adversity that the players would have to overcome?
Chris Mannix: It would carry extra significance and it would be unique. That's for sure. But think about it this way: If the Lakers win the championship, how many years, decades, are we going to argue whether this was really a championship for LeBron James in his pursuit of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan and all the greats of generations before? How many times we gonna sit there and say, well, the 2020 championship was a championship, but it wasn't really a championship. I think he just the best solution is take all that off the table, make maybe a 30-team NCAA tournament-style playoff, have some fun with it, and then crown the "World Cup" of the NBA at the end of the season.