Pat Riley has certain feelings about the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA Championship win.
In the year 2020, there are certain words you don’t utter; asterisk is one of them.
It’s been a few weeks since the Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th NBA title at the expense of Pat Riley and LeBron James’s former team — the Miami Heat.
Riley seems to think an asterisk needs to be applied, but not to who you think.
“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 squarely. But there will be, always be, that asterisk; if we had Bam and Goran 100 percent — Goran was our leading scorer [entering the Finals] — it might have gone to a seventh game.”
After receiving public backlash, Riley clarified his comments.
No one who objectively watches the NBA thought the Heat — even at full strength — would beat the Lakers in a best-of-seven series.
Did injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo cost them a chance to push the series longer?
We will never know. There’s no definitive way to prove a hypothetical in sports.
But what we do know is that injuries are a part of the game. Nobody is 100% healthy at the end of a season. This year wasn’t the first time we’ve seen a team compromised in the Finals series, and it won’t be the last.
Take a look at last season, for example. The Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in six games to win the title, with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson missing games.
In 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers “got lucky” when Andrew Bogut — Warriors center and rim protector — got injured, forcing him to miss the rest of the series.
The Warriors dynasty started with them winning their first title against a LeBron-led team featuring no Kyrie Irving and no Kevin Love.
The list goes on and on.
Even if the Heat forced a seventh game against the Lakers, the one person I don’t bet against in that situation is LeBron James.