Quinn Cook wasted no time getting back to work with the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching staff once the team was allowed to re-open its practice facility last weekend.
There is growing optimism about finishing out the 2019-20 NBA season after it was suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on March 11. Regardless, the league will need to take unprecedented action in order to make it come to fruition and this could result in some major changes regarding the potential playoffs.
As a result, there is already plenty of speculation regarding whether or not the circumstances of this season has diminished the value of winning this year’s championship. Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal was among the most vocal, arguing this season’s champion would have an asterisk.
However, it appears Cook is among those that feels quite the opposite. Cook said during an appearance on Spectrum SportsNet that winning a title after all that has transpired should be considered even more impressive:
“You hear a lot of people saying on social media and TV that whoever wins this year gets an asterisk next to the championship. I heard Austin Rivers say something great, and I agree. It’s like, no. I think it’s the total opposite. I think the team that wins the championship this year really deserves it.
“We all are going through the same thing. There’s no team that’s had a chance to practice with each other and had access to a gym. We’ve all had to quarantine, be away from teammates and mentally just stay focused with no gyms, no sense of structure or anything. I think the team who wins it this year, they can say they were the toughest mentally.”
There is certainly plenty of truth to Cook’s comments given the course of action that the league in its entirety has had to take just to crown a champion. Although the unexpected hiatus may have had a severe impact on the initial outcome of the season, it does offer an intriguing dynamic when considering which team still found a way to rise to the top during a global pandemic.
Unlike the the asterisks involved with the Houston Astros winning the 2017 World Series, every team will be working to overcome the same disadvantage. The fact that the playing field in the postseason has essentially been evened out due to the lack of home-court advantage only serves to solidify this notion.
Of course, there will still be those that downplay this year’s title winner due to the unprecedented circumstances. It may very well come down to the overall performance of teams in the playoffs and how it compares to year’s past.