The NBA has far too much at financial stake not to do everything in its power to salvage some sort of postseason.
As such, it would appear the most likely scenario would involve a set up in a cavernous Las Vegas location, where playoff teams would gather over a certain amount of time to conduct a tournament to crown a champion. So, if, say, the Lakers win an abbreviated, five-game “NBA Finals” against the Bucks in an atmosphere-devoid, makeshift arena, will the LeBron lovers be unleashed upon us with four-rings-is-close-enough-to-six-rings takes? Marc Stein explored this idea in his latest newsletter:
“You have to wonder, though: How would we really look at Giannis and the Bucks, in our rings-are-everything sports culture, if they emerged victorious from a regular season and postseason that fell short of the N.B.A.’s 82-game and 16-playoff-win norms? How much credit would LeBron get for leading the Lakers to such a crown? What sort of minimum playoff structure would it take, for Kawhi and the Clippers (or anyone else), to satisfy the masses that this was a representative season? Perhaps the basketball public, grateful just to have the game back in any form, would be unusually forgiving. But don’t count on it.”
Have you seen the daily war that wages on NBA Twitter? We absolutely should not count on it! The ‘99 Spurs, who beat the Knicks in the Finals of a 50-game, lockout-ruined season, have long lived with the sag of a kind-of-title. That season started on Christmas, had no All-Star Game, and featured weird scheduling quirks like back-to-back-to-back three-day stretches. Still, that year at least included a full four-round playoff in stadiums across the country filled with enthusiastic fans. This year, though … think about it: Would there even be a celebration for the team that wins whatever tournament the NBA comes up with? Would there be a trophy presentation? A forced, abridged, anticlimactic playoffs would be good for the NBA financially, of course. But would it help its image?
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