Will the 2020 NBA champion deserve an asterisk?

Mike DePrisco
NBC Sports Washington

Most of the questions surrounding the NBA season were answered Thursday when the league approved a plan for return to play

Where are they playing? Disney. How many teams? 22. When will games begin? July 31. 

One question the NBA can't answer is how this year's champion will be perceived for years to come. Will they deserve an asterisk or should they be recognized as much as every other title team in history? 

Chris Miller, Drew Gooden, Chase Hughes and Quinton Mayo had a spirited debate on the subject, and that's putting it lightly. Gooden kicked things off by stating there's no avoiding the asterisk based on how this year has gone. 

"Asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk," Gooden said. "This is a big trick bag, real talk. If LeBron wins this championship, you can't crown him the greatest player of all time. This is like that San Antonio win they tried to kill Tim Duncan and [Gregg Popovich] for in 1999. If that didn't count, what do you think they'll say for this season? They're gonna say the same thing."

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Wizards reporter Chase Hughes was, and correctly, on the other side of the argument. The 2019-20 campaign was indeed shortened [73 games], but it will still turn out longer than 1999 [50 games] and 2012 [66 games], the league's only lockouts to result in lost games.

Every team will go through the same challenges in this Disney World bubble. Sure, older teams like the Lakers will benefit from extra rest, but it's not like the Clippers and Bucks have been running marathons three days a week to make sure LeBron has the freshest legs when play resumes. They'll be ready too!

While Hughes clarified the only championships that deserve asterisks are for cheating teams like the 2017 Houston Astros, he came in with some serious heat to follow up Gooden's point. 

"The titles I think most people would say have an asterisk, and I think this will stand the test of time, fairly or unfairly, are the two titles the Warriors won after [Kevin] Durant joined them," Hughes said. "[GM Bob Myers] confirmed that they felt the same way a few weeks ago saying it just didn't feel as impressive as the other one."

If you notice Chase's Twitter following spike with LeBron fans over the next few weeks, you can reference the quote above as the reason why.

As a retort, Gooden posed quite the hypothetical. What if the Wizards, who were 5.5 games out of a playoff spot and were long shots to make the postseason before the season was suspended and a new format kept them in the mix, ended up winning it all?

Gooden: "I'm gonna be excited, but what is the world gonna say? Is it an asterisk?"

Chris Miller: "Hell no!"

Gooden: "I think this is the most jenkiest hoops season ever."

Whether or not this year's championship deserves an asterisk or not, it's a title that'll most likely fade away over time. Nobody says, "Well technically, Tim Duncan has five titles but it's really four because the 1999 season only had 50 games."

Instead of discounting this year's champion, shouldn't they be celebrated more? The team that wins this year will have to overcome a four-month gap between games, handle social distancing and preventative measures to keep everyone healthy and win 16 playoff games without fans in the stands.

However jenky this season ended up being, this year's champ will have a special place in NBA history. 

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Will the 2020 NBA champion deserve an asterisk? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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