NBA

Los Angeles Lakers' title win in bubble deserves no asterisk

NBA

In the future, however that is going to look, what will be remembered most about this NBA season is how the league collectively shut out COVID-19.

No positive tests, no rescheduled games or glitches. It was a tribute to smart planning and willing participants -- from players to executives to support personnel -- who made a commitment and stuck to it.

Everything went exactly as the league wished, including, I presume, the Los Angeles Lakers winning the championship.

But don’t deny the Lakers their due for winning in that locked-down environment. I don’t want to hear about asterisks. Staying focused more than 100 days and playing the kind of defense the Lakers did was an incredible accomplishment.

Their coaches and players deserve all the praise they get.

And really, the walls of the Magic Kingdom kept fans away from games and in a strange way, made this championship more legitimate.

This was the ultimate neutral court.

Denver didn’t have its altitude to help beat tired teams. Either did Utah. Miami didn’t have its South Beach distractions to rob teams of game-eve sleep. Milwaukee didn't have its frigid cold. Portland didn’t have its loud arena, the Lakers didn’t have the Kardashians or Jack Nicholson and the Clippers didn’t have Billy Crystal.

My goodness, I don’t think Jimmy Goldstein was even able to make it to a game.

I was very much impressed by the energy shown by the Miami Heat and the coaching of Erik Spoelstra. But in the end, I think the Western Conference’s superiority still hovers over the Eastern Conference.

 

I’m not sure the Lakers needed as much to get past the Heat as they did the Western teams they faced. Good thing for them, too, because I sensed, by the end, the Lakers were worn down.

And who wouldn’t have been? I have spoken to people in the bubble and it was apparent how mentally taxing it was for them.

I have a lot of admiration for my media brothers and sisters who lasted through the entire schedule down there. It’s one thing to hang out on that virtual island while making a few million bucks, but quite another to do it for the comparative pennies they earn.

I’m glad it’s over, and not just for them. Summer basketball should be played for a couple of weeks in Las Vegas by free agents, rookies and hangers-on. For me, I didn’t enjoy having to give up a warm summer evening to watch a game I’ve always thought warmed my winter nights.

I hope, for everyone’s sake, we never have to do this again. I think it was created as a very expensive one-shot event. But I’m just not sure, at this point, where basketball -- and the world -- is headed.