The 2020 NBA champion, if one is crowned, will have emerged as the ultimate winner from a season that lasted more than a full year from start to finish. A season that saw political unrest between the NBA and China, the deaths of David Stern and Kobe Bryant,racial issues across the nation and, if that wasn’t enough, a pandemic.
It is a season like none other.
So, an asterisk-bearing champion? Not a chance.
To the teams in the NBA, this championship might be the toughest one ever claimed. It’ll come after more than three months of living in a quasi-bubble at the Disney complex near Orlando, Florida, after an entire postseason is played without fans, with most if not all that time spent away from friends and family. And only one of the 22 teams headed to Disney will be able to say it was absolutely worth the trouble.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say that there’s going to be, like, a star next to this championship,” Milwaukee forward and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “I feel like at the end of the day this is going to be like the toughest championship you could ever win because the circumstances are really, really tough right now. So, whoever wants it more is going to be able to go out there and take it.”
He’s not alone in feeling that way.
Most of the 22 teams that will be headed to the Disney campus next week — the first arrivals are scheduled for July 7 — spent Wednesday beginning Phase 3 of the NBA’s restart process. Workouts are still individual, but now mandatory. No team can practice or play 5-on-5 until arriving at Disney. Teams won’t be back together, all at once, in person, until getting to Central Florida.
“I think this might be certainly the most worthy of all world championships in the NBA because of all the things that every team is going to have to navigate and overcome to be able to be crowned a champion," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.