How the Coronavirus could affect NBA Title hopes

By Steve Jones
Apr. 14, 2020

The NBA has not given up hopes on resuming the 2020-21 season. The New York Post reported last week that the NBA is hoping for a 16-team playoff which would be held at a single location, instead of teams flying around from city to city. Hawaii, the Bahamas, and Atlantic City have been discussed as possible locations for a resumption as the league is determined to crown a champion.

But the unfortunate reality is that there would be an incredible amount of groundwork for the season to resume even in good scenarios. NBA players would have to be repeatedly tested even though there has been controversy over how rich athletes have been easily tested while ordinary Americans, some of whom have coronavirus symptoms, have been left in the cold. Players would have to accept being practically isolated in a bubble for the weeks or months it would take for the resumed season to end.

Even if other logistics such as SEO services are figured out, the games are played, and a champion is crowned, there is going to be a real sense that this championship will not be as valid as the championship from other seasons. This will especially be the case given how this virus could drastically affect who gets on the court to begin with.

The Role of Injuries

Nearly every NBA championship team benefits from some amount of injury luck on their way to the title. Last year’s Toronto Raptors are a major example, as they would have had a much harder NBA Finals if Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and maybe even Demarcus Cousins had been healthy. Boston Celtics fans will claim that they could have won the 2010 title if Kendrick Perkins had not been injured in the NBA Finals, and Houston Rockets fans will claim that they could have knocked off the Warriors in 2018 had Chris Paul not injured his hamstring.

None of this is to claim that these titles are invalid. Injuries are a natural and inherent part of professional sports. If you cannot stay healthy, then it does not matter how good you are. Chris Paul injuring his hamstring was unfortunate, but no one was shocked that it happened given his prior health history.

But the coronavirus is different because it has nothing to do with athleticism. Let us suppose that the Clippers and the Celtics face off against one another in the championship round, but then Kawhi is diagnosed with the virus before the series begins. Kawhi would have to be pulled out of the round. If the Celtics win, there will be all sorts of controversies about who the true champion would have been. And then there will be questions about what to do with the rest of the Clippers, and whether the season might have to be postponed yet again.

Every NBA fan should be hoping that the season resumes even in a truncated form. But given the logistical difficulties as well as the fact that there will be major questions about any such champion, do not be surprised in the slightest if this becomes the first NBA season with no winner at the end.