Pat Riley: Lakers Championship Has ‘Asterisk’ Due To Heat’s Injuries

The Orlando bubble on the Walt Disney World campus was an unprecedented event in NBA history but proved to be a success as the restart and playoffs went on without a hitch.

The season ended with the Los Angeles Lakers being crowned the 2020 NBA champions, redeeming a franchise that had been through its roughest stretch ever. LeBron James was named Finals MVP and re-cemented his status as the league’s best player.

Their path to a title was not easy as they had to overcome a tough Miami Heat team led by Jimmy Butler and head coach Erik Spoelstra. Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo suffered injuries in Game 1 that left the Heat short-handed, but Butler willed them to two wins before they eventually lost in six.

According to Barry Jackson of Miami Herald, Pat Riley believes those injuries could have changed the series and therefore leaves questions about the Lakers victory:

“I would like to see what it would be like with everybody whole. We’ll get our chance again. The Lakers have the greatest player in the game today in LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis…. They beat us fair and square. They were the best team.

“But there’s always going to be asterisk, that caveat. If we had Bam and Goran, Goran was our leading scorer in the playoffs, at 100 percent, it could have gone to seven games or whatever.”

Adebayo and Dragic suffered neck and foot injuries, respectively, a devastating blow for Miami as they were two of their best players. While those two being healthy would have made the series more competitive, it is hard to imagine it would have changed the result as James and Anthony Davis were playing their best basketball.

Regardless, no one in Los Angeles will say their latest championship will have an asterisk because it is incredibly difficult to win it all no matter the circumstances. Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka is a firm believer that the title deserves a gold star instead when considering all the obstacles and challenges to even make the games possible.

Lakers set up to repeat

While the league as a whole should be more competitive next season, the Lakers have a good shot of repeating. Even without making a major move in the offseason, Los Angeles should improve as the current roster will be able build upon their first year together.

However, the team could add more talent as there will be surely free agents who will want to chase a ring with the purple and gold. Either way, the Lakers are in a good spot and should have another successful year when the 2020-21 season tips off.

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