The 2021 NBA champions are about to face some serious backlash if they win the Finals, perhaps even earning an asterisk due to the record number of injuries.
Of course, every year there’s bound to be some condition or the other that ruins the favorite teams’ chances of winning, but that’s just a part of sports.
These things are bound to happen. Nevertheless, if you want to be nitpicky, you can back down the list of the last 10 NBA champions and find something or the other to discredit their title.
This year, it will no doubt be the injuries. Every team has faced some major injury at some point or the other in these NBA playoffs. Giannis Antetkounmpo was the latest superstar to go down as he hyperextended his leg against the Atlanta Hawks in game four.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Game 5 vs. Hawks on Thursday with his left knee hyperextension.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2021
So, what about the last 10 years? Let’s have a look shall we.
Will The 2021 NBA Champions Have An Asterisk?
NBA Champions By Year: How Luck Favored The Last 10 NBA Champions
2020 NBA Champions: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers and LeBron James always face flak for winning a “Mickey Mouse” ring, playing in the NBA bubble at Disney World due to the pandemic.
Lebron James family congratulating him on his Mickey Mouse Ring 🥺🥺 pic.twitter.com/arMwkXE1D7
— LeFraud’s Burner 🎯 (backup) (@LeMickeyRing) December 23, 2020
2019 NBA Champions: Toronto Raptors
The Raptors faced the ‘Big Three’ Warriors in these Finals except their big three went to a big two to a big one really quickly as Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both suffered injuries.
2018 NBA Champions: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors faced several teams in a row with injuries including the Houston Rockets who were without Chris Paul for games six and seven, and the Cavs where LeBron James ‘basically’ broke his hand.
In the Houston series, the Rockets also submitted a very legitimate bid that the referees had missed 81 potential calls that cost them 18.6 points.
2017 NBA Champions: Golden State Warriors
A cap spike allowed Kevin Durant to join a 73-9 Warriors team. Additionally, Zaza Pachulia injured Kawhi Leonard in game one of the Western Conference Finals when the Spurs were up 23 points, a game they lost after the injury.
2016 NBA Champions: Cleveland Cavaliers
Draymond Green was suspended for a pivotal game five which the Cavaliers won to seize momentum to kickstart their 3-1 series comeback. Steph Curry was also injured throughout the Finals with a vulnerable ankle.
2015 NBA Champions: Golden State Warriors
LeBron James went out playing without either of the stars he had joined as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love both missed the entire Finals with injuries.
2014 NBA Champions: San Antonio Spurs
The air conditioning malfunctioned in game one of the Finals in AT&T stadium at San Antonio Spurs which led to LeBron James having cramps which may have impacted him going forward.
2013 NBA Champions: Miami Heat
They missed out on playing a better opponent as the Oklahoma City Thunder traded away James Harden and lost Russell Westbrook in the playoffs.
2012 NBA Champions: Miami Heat
The lockout season was defined by injuries. The number one seed Chicago Bulls lost Derrick Rose to a torn ACL, and Joakim Noah hurt his foot giving the Heat an easy path in the East.
2011 NBA Champions: Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks exploited the NBA rulebook by playing an obscene amount of zone defense. It was also the Heat’s first year together as a ‘Big Three’, and LeBron wasn’t used to his new team.
The 2021 NBA Champions Should Not Have An Asterisk Nor Should Any Of These Teams
The number of injuries during these NBA playoffs has been absolutely ridiculous. However, it should not invalidate the effort the winning team will have made to win the championship.
Every team remaining in the NBA playoffs has suffered at least one major injury (or in the case of the Suns a health and safety protocol incident).
This is crazy
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) June 30, 2021
No team wasn’t impacted in these playoffs, and it is unfair to hold any team back because of something that’s uncontrollable. Similarly, none of the above champions should be discredited. I mean are we really going to fault the Dallas Mavericks for playing zone defense?
It’s ridiculous how far we can go at sometimes to discredit a title or a player, but it should not happen for these Finals, no matter what.