Shaquille O’Neal recently argued that the NBA should cancel the rest of the current season, suggesting that whichever team crowned champion in a shortened or modified playoff format would have an asterisk next to its achievement. Whether or not he is right in this opinion, you can be sure that there are many people who share it.
However, it is important to remember that not all asterisks are created equal.
Injury occurs. They are an integral part of sport. To argue that an injury should produce an asterisk is the ultimate loser mentality – as if the risk of injury was not shared equally by all who participate. The Houston Rockets and their fans can cry anything they want to put an asterisk next to the Warriors’ victory in the 2017-18 Western Conference final as Chris Paul missed the last two games with an injury to the hamstrings, but in doing so, they conveniently put aside the fact that André Iguodala has missed the last four games in this series. You cannot play on both tables.
The asterisks should be reserved for situations in which cheating occurs, or when a team or player receives a distinct competitive advantage for something outside of the stated rules of the game. The sign of the Houston Astros that flies? Yes, that would be admissible in my opinion. Apparently Rob Manfred disagrees.
NBA staff at Bleacher Report recently produced what they believe to be the eight biggest asterisks in the league since 1990, but the legitimacy of the asterisk certainly varies in each individual case. The Sacramento Kings losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference finals, for example, have a much more deserved asterisk potential than, say, the Rockets winning two consecutive titles in the mid-years 90 while Michael Jordan was playing baseball.
Of the eight nominees, two involve the Warriors, although one deserves an asterisk more than the other.
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First, let’s start with the one who doesn’t deserve it at all.
Just as there is no asterisk on the Warriors series victory in the 2017-2018 Western Conference final, neither is there in the 2016-2017 Western Conference final , and there shouldn’t be. However, Sean Highkin of the Bleacher report disagrees.
“When Zaza Pachulia went under Kawhi Leonard four minutes from the third quarter of Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals, which caused him an ankle injury, it didn’t just rock this streak – this has had widespread implications in the league. ” Wrote Highkin. “The Spurs were 21 points ahead of the Warriors when Leonard fell, and without him they fell apart and lost the game. From that moment on, without their best player, San Antonio had no shots, and Golden State easily swept the following three games to reach the final, where they beat the Cavaliers in five games to win their second championship in three years. “
Leonard is a phenomenal player, and Highkin is correct in saying that the Spurs had the Warriors in a deep hole at the start of the first game in the series before they were injured. But the last time I checked, there are four quarters in an NBA game and the playoffs are one of the top seven formats. Even if Leonard is not injured and the Spurs win the first game, they still have to beat the 2016-17 Warriors – arguably the best team of all time – three more times.
This team went 16-1 on its way to the title. Get this asterisk out of here.
The other candidate that involves the Warriors – the title of the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers – certainly deserves more of an asterisk than the first, but even so, it is probably below requirements.
“After a 73-9 campaign and armed with the league’s quintessential player at Stephen Curry, the Warriors looked significantly stronger after Games 1 and 2, which they won by a total of 48 points – the highest number of these first two Finals games, “wrote Preston Ellis of Bleacher Report. “But near the end of the Warriors‘ Game 4 victory, LeBron James and Draymond Green engaged in an argument. climb over. “
“If the two had obtained equivalent technical fouls, Green – who would not have accumulated enough glaring points in the playoffs to trigger an automatic suspension – would have adapted to game 5 and could have helped close the series at Oakland, “Ellis continued. “Instead, Andrew Bogut left a three-point game early in the third quarter with a knee injury and the Cavaliers fled with a 15-point victory. “
In pleading for an asterisk, Ellis also mentioned the ejection of Curry in Game 6, which was the result of several questionable calls. And while he’s right to say that in almost all other situations, you would expect sanctions to be imposed equally between players, it will never be the case with the biggest superstar in the league – and this has never been the case. Yes, the distribution of punishment was questionable at best, but Green put himself in the position of being suspended with all the glaring points he had accumulated before this game.
Was Curry watered on certain calls in Game 6? Absolutely. But what else do you expect in a decisive scenario on the road?
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The point is, although the officials didn’t really help them, the Warriors had plenty of chances to avoid losing a 3-1 lead. They did not do it. They lost. Then they got Kevin Durant.
No asterisk. No complaints.