Damian Lillard defends legitimacy of the Lakers’ 2020 NBA championship

The Los Angeles Lakers’ most recent NBA championship came during the 2019-20 season. It many ways, it was a magical season for them, especially since some preseason prognostications had them finishing well below first place in the Western Conference.

When the year began, the Los Angeles Clippers, with new stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, were considered the overwhelming favorites to win it all. But after the Lakers lost to the Clippers on opening night, they gradually established themselves as the best basketball team around.

They ended up claiming their 17th world title in the Walt Disney World Resort bubble as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the population. Since then, a sizable number of people have discredited that championship, calling it derogatory names such as the “Mickey Mouse title.”

But Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shot back at those critics by pointing out the extremely high level of basketball that took place inside the bubble (h/t Lakers Daily).

“I feel like it would have been hard to win that ’cause people was fresh, bruh,” he said. “… Everybody was fresh. That’s why you seen dudes hooping like that ’cause it was nothing else, so I feel like that would make it harder to win it all.”

“… It count to me ’cause you gotta look at it like this — why don’t it count?” he continued. “Nobody else won it. Everybody else had the same opportunity. Everybody else had the same opportunity to win it, so why they didn’t win it?”

Lillard, along with the Phoenix SunsDevin Booker, forward T.J. Warren, star guard Donovan Mitchell and Denver Nuggets standout Jamal Murray, dropped big numbers in the bubble. But in the end, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and crew were too much for their competition.

They brushed past Lillard’s Blazers four games to one in the first round, dispatched the Houston Rockets and routed Murray’s Nuggets to reach the NBA Finals, where they got past the Miami Heat to win the NBA championship.

The four teams that made it to the conference finals that year (the Lakers, Nuggets, Heat and Boston Celtics) were also the final four teams in the 2023 playoffs, which lent some credibility to what happened in the bubble in 2020.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire