As the COVID-19 pandemic has paused and/or truncated professional sports seasons in 2020 so far, there has been a lot of talk about whether those teams that win championships this year should have an asterisk next to their names in the record books.
Between the NHL and NBA hiatuses, those two leagues’ limited return to play featuring only a selection of teams, and MLB’s decision to play a shortened season with expanded playoffs, this year will be like no other for at least three of the four major professional sports in America.
And according to Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers, this year’s NBA champion absolutely should have an asterisk in the record book – but not for the reason you’d think, as he explained to Turner Sports’ Taylor Rooks.
That’s right, Rivers believes that the asterisk should come because of the ramifications of the interruption and resumption of play, not in spite of it.
The NBA has had irregular seasons in the past, most recently the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign, but none of this magnitude, with only 22 teams returning to “finish” the year and players from across those 22 squads opting out or missing in action because of COVID-19 concerns – the Brooklyn Nets, for example, were in playoff position in the East at the NBA’s halt point, but will finish the season without Wilson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan, and possibly Spencer Dinwiddie, putting them five players down when the injured Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are factored in.
Rivers and the Rockets are in a similar position in the standings, as they were sixth in the West with a 40-24 record when play was stopped in March, but they now have only eight games instead of 18 to either secure, or lose, their playoff position.