On June 17th Skip Bayless said “This (Season) is going to deserve an asterisk whether you like it or not” on Undisputed. He stated the fact that the season was shortened, along with the gap between the stoppage of play and resumption. He also seemed to specifically call out LeBron and make his point toward the all-time great. Bayless said “It’s almost like the NBA Gods looked down and said: ‘This one’s for you big guy (Lebron).'”
The issue? This argument is invalid. It is very safe to say that Skip Bayless is simply setting his ground to discredit LeBron if (Keyword: IF) he and the Lakers win the title this season. Whether you think LeBron is the GOAT or not is irrelevant to this (For the record he’s not but let’s proceed). Both the 1998-98 and 2011-12 seasons were shortened and there has not been talk about an asterisk to them.
Other Shortened Seasons
In the history of the NBA there have been two shortened seasons before the 2019-2020 season. Those being the 1998-1999 season and the 2011-2012 season. The 1998-99 season was shortened due to a lockout caused by negotiating a new CBA between the NBA and the NBPA. As a result that year was shortened to 50 regular season games, concluding with the San Antonio Spurs winning the championship that year. Skip Bayless did say that ring is tainted, but they played the full playoffs so “You gotta give them that.”
The 2011-2012 NBA Season was shortened to 66 games due to another lockout caused by labor negotiations. That year the Miami Heat won the championship by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 5 game series. Again, Skip Bayless said that ring is “a little tainted.”
Why There Should Not Be an Asterisk for Any Season
The issue I have is that all players are being affected by the shortened season. So to say that a ring from 99, 2012 or 2020 is worth less than a ring from another year is simply idiotic. The 2020 NBA Finals will require the same, if not more, work, desire, commitment and discipline than every other NBA finals. Staying in shape, taking the risk of returning to play and being able to “turn it on” again after months of just not playing is much harder than simply returning to work after time off. The shortened seasons for 1998-99 and 2011-12 had the same impact on everyone. It was an even playing field. To say that 2020’s stoppage benefited a certain team more than another is crazy.
Yes, LeBron is 35 years old, yet a case can be made the Clippers benefited more. The Clippers need to get healthy, Kawhi has arthritic knees and he and Paul George needed to play together to develop chemistry. I’m not here to make that case I’m simply saying, “Forget an asterisk, this season is just as difficult and challenging as any other. If not more.”