From the very beginning, the 2019-20 NBA season had its challenges. Just days before the season was scheduled to kick-off, Daryl Morey famously posted in support of the Hong Kong protests. The controversy rattled the league, severing their relationship with China and costing them hundreds of millions in the process. A lot of players were caught in the crossfire of the situation -- caught between standing up for democracy and making an enemy out of the biggest nations in the world.
In January, the NBA lost two of its most important and iconic people: David Stern and Kobe Bryant. The deaths, which happened just weeks apart, broke the hearts of everyone in the community and served as a major (and obviously justifiable) distraction.
And, of course, we can't forget about our current crisis. Following fears that Rudy Gobert had COVID-19, the NBA postponed the season only to discover that many of their players, from all different teams, were positive with the virus.
By all accounts, it has been the worst season in league history.
At this point, it has been over a month since basketball was canceled and we still don't know when (or if) action will return. With everything considered, many say that whoever wins the Chip this year deserves an asterisk next to it.
For Austin Rivers, he holds the opposite opinion.
People have been saying, whoever wins, it’s going to have a blip [asterisk] next to it. I personally believe it’s the complete opposite. Whoever wins, this is so much harder. … Whoever wins this year really had to go get it and earn it, and had guys who took time off seriously and still stayed in shape, and was able to get back the chemistry, true chemistry. So many things. In my eyes, whoever wins this, it’s going to be the hardest championship ever won.
It's a fair point. All the distractions, the breaks, the unprecedented tragedies -- it seems like winning would be in spite of all of that, not because of it.
If the season has to resume without fans, that would be another challenge.
It’s going to be so different and weird. I don’t like to say cool, because the circumstances that we’re going through right now are tragic for many people. But it will be interesting that if the season does come back, we will be involved in something that’s never been done before. It’s something that we’ll look back in 10, 20 years from now saying, ‘You remember when we played like this?’ It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be interesting.
"It's going to be hard, but it's going to be interesting." That seems more than appropriate to describe the current situation.