The NBA has just completed its 71st season, naming the Los Angeles Lakers its 2020 NBA champions after defeating the Miami Heat 4-2 in a best-of-seven series.
However, this was not a typical NBA season. As the number of confirmed COVID- 19 cases continued to rise in the United States, the NBA decided to take proactive measures, placing the league on hiatus in March for an extended period of time until eventually restarting in July.
This year’s playoffs were hosted solely in Orlando, Florida, with the NBA housing all of its playoff teams at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, located in the Walt Disney World Resort.
Along with quarantining, players also adhered to strict COVID- 19 safety and health protocols. Daily COVID testing, masks and social distancing were all implemented as means to ensure that all the players and personnel remained safe from the virus.
While quarantined at Disney, many players began to document their experience, sharing through Youtube channels and social media their day to day while playing in Orlando.
According to Malik Bailey, sophomore exercise science and health promotion major, being able to watch on social media and other platforms as players documented the NBA’s COVID- 19 processes and procedures showed him that the NBA did the “best thing possible,” in order to mitigate the virus. Bailey also added, “I feel like all sports should be doing stuff like that.”
This championship marked the 17th in Lakers’ history, tying them with the Boston Celtics for the most in the NBA. This also marked LeBron James’ fourth championship in 11 appearances, further cementing his legacy amongst basketball fans across the world.
“LeBron is just the G.O.A.T. and will always be the G.O.A.T.,” Tajamier Smith, senior early childhood education major, said when asked about James’ legacy. As of now, along with his four championships, James is also a four-time MVP, four-time NBA Finals MVP and has made the all-NBA first team 13 times.
The playoffs contained a fair amount of surprises as well, with one of its biggest coming from the fifth-seeded Miami Heat, led by Jimmy Butler, defeating the league’s current MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the first-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.
Another surprising twist came at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, as they completed not one, but two consecutive 3-1 series comebacks on the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers.
Although it is still incredibly early, the Lakers, according to most analysts and sports betting websites, are favored to return and win the NBA championship in 2021.