LeBron James has been great for nearly 20 years. The Greek Freak is still in his prime. Kawhi Leonard already has two championships to his name. But all three had a tremendous shot at winning the NBA Finals this year. Taking a look at the NBA lines, those three teams were the clear cut favorites to be winning the title.
What happens now? The shutdown of sports has given us a strange alternate reality. There’s the possibility there is no closure to the season, and that in the record books no one has a banner hung for 2019-2020. Here are the dynamics at work:
While we have never had seasons canceled because of health crisis, we have had champions go uncrowned and seasons unfinished. The NHL lost an entire season to a lockout. Baseball canceled its ’94 season infamously because of the strike. Those two examples still hang over the sports world as cautionary tales, but it has happened.
Reason for hope.
Adam Silver has been optimistic about trying to finish the season. He has talked about extending the playoffs deeper into the summer, and perhaps even staging an exhibition fundraiser just to get the players back on the court. Either way it appears the commissioner is looking at all options at how to restart the season.
The TV contracts.
The money distributed by the television networks to the league is staggering for each playoffs. The partnership is a delicate one, with network execs on the hook for great ratings and matchups to make money back on advertising. The league is under pressure to deliver captivating games and series. No one wants to lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars. The pressure is on to find a way to recoup those costs.
LeBron is already one of the greatest ever to play the game, but leading a third team to a championship certainly would have added another feather into his cap as a possible GOAT. Could Kawhi do what he did last year for the Raptors again for the Clips? Rarefied air indeed if he’s got three NBA Finals MVPs with three different teams. And Giannis is still searching for that elusive ring. A championship has eluded the city of Milwaukee since the Bucks did nearly 50 years ago.
Here’s hoping the season finds a way to come to a rightful conclusion, because we all want to see the game back on the floor and a champion crowned.