The dreaded asterisk. Shaquille O’Neal said whoever wins this year’s title will have one. Of course, whoever wins the title is not putting an asterisk on the banner they raise to the rafters, but the cries will still be out there.
Adam Silver wants this to be as legitimate a title as it can be, considering the circumstances, which is why he is pushing for seven-game playoff series in every round.
“Adam Silver wants to have seven-game series in the playoffs. He doesn’t want to have shortened series early on. He wants to try to legitimize the champion as much as he can.”
Context will play a role in how legitimate this title looks. If the Lakers, Clippers, or Bucks win — the three favorites when the season ended — it will feel more authentic. If another team rises up and snags a ring (Boston, Toronto, Denver), it will raise some eyebrows.
Historically, it would feel more like an asterisk season if this were a one-off title. However, if Denver or Boston won the ring, then won two more titles in the next four years, we’d look back on this as more legitimate. After the lockout-shortened season of 1999 there were calls that the Spurs’ title deserved an asterisk, but after the franchise won four more rings nobody looks back on that first one as a fluke (expect for Shaq).
In the end, Doc Rivers put it best recently, “You know I always say that the people who say, ‘Put an asterisk by it,’ they’re the losers. The winners don’t ever say, ‘Put an asterisk by it’. We won.”