The Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th NBA championship exactly three weeks ago after dominating the NBA bubble from the start to the end. The Californians didn't have a strong rival in front of them, winning their first three series by 4-1, losing more than one in the Finals against the Miami Heat. The title was their goal since they landed Anthony Davis last offseason and that moved paid off for them, with AD having great games in the bubble.
However, success will always be accompanied by criticism and this isn't the exception. Some people consider this championship run was just too easy for the Lakers, and some have stated it has an asterisk on it given all the things that happened before and during the bubble. We just finished a season suspended due to a global pandemic, whose playoffs were also interrupted due to protest against racial injustices in America and more.
It was an extraordinary season and some people think all the external factors could have given an advantage to the Lakers. Well, GM Rob Pelinka doesn't think that way and he had the perfect response to those thinking their championship lacks validation. Joining Adrian Wojnarowski's 'The Woj Pod,' Pelinka explained:
“I spend a lot of time kind of thinking through what lens you’re viewing things through and for me, this one is ‘let’s count the blessings instead of the losses.’ Like it’s easy to think about ‘oh, we didn’t get to have a parade, or we didn’t get to do this yet.’ But to be able to have won a championship inside a bubble, and to be with the guys and the staff for 100 days in a row, also provided some extraordinary moments that probably future champions will never be able to experience because it was such a unique setting. So I try to spend a lot of time thinking about the parts of this championship that make it unique.
“I think some have (asked) ‘will this championship have an asterisk on it?’ I like to say ‘no, I think it’s got a gold star.’ Just because you had to do so much more to get to the end, and I think it was just a testament to our team (and) the players and our staff coming together in that environment.”
Alongside the Heat, the Lakers were the team that spent the most time in the bubble. They had to adapt to that environment and even some seemed to have a hard time doing so, they stayed strong, got through all the postseason and won the championship.
Perhaps playing in an empty gym might have been an advantage to them, but leaving that gym to see the same things every day, do the same activities that you did yesterday and think only about basketball must have been mentally exhausting.
You see the Los Angeles Clippers and how they looked, their body language when they lost against the Denver Nuggets and you could see they didn't want to be in the bubble anymore. Well, the Lakers did want to and the reward was their 17th NBA championship.