Milwaukee Bucks: Championship wait could end with an asterisk

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JANUARY 10: (Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent via Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JANUARY 10: (Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent via Getty Images) /

If the current campaign resumes and the Milwaukee Bucks finish as champions, would a potential asterisk diminish the achievement?

With the NBA season currently suspended in the midst of what was one of the Milwaukee Bucks’ greatest seasons of all-time, fans have already been forced to offer some consideration to what could be taken away from them.

The coronavirus pandemic has left an entirely uncertain global sports landscape, and with that there’s no guarantee that the current NBA campaign will even be resumed at any point.

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That certainly provides Bucks fans with plenty of opportunity to bemoan the franchise’s long-running misfortune, and to imagine a scenario where, without any of this disruption, the Bucks could have been hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy aloft in June.

Something else that’s worth considering now, though, is what could be the new reality of what a best case scenario might be and what it could mean in terms of legacy.

It seems like something of a long shot to think that the current season will be completed in full with an 82-game regular season and an unaltered playoff format. In that case, even if play resumes, and the Bucks do go on to realize what was tracking to be this season’s potential, would a championship win be forever accompanied by an asterisk in the history books?

This was a topic that the New York Times’ Marc Stein explored more broadly in his weekly newsletter on Wednesday. Stein speculated as to how the Clippers, Lakers, or the Bucks winning a title might be framed under any kind of truncated season format, with his assessment for Milwaukee being the kind of thing that will naturally provoke an allergic reaction of sorts in fans:

"“You have to wonder, though: How would we really look at Giannis and the Bucks, in our rings-are-everything sports culture, if they emerged victorious from a regular season and postseason that fell short of the N.B.A.’s 82-game and 16-playoff-win norms?”"

Undoubtedly, that is not the kind of baggage that the Bucks would ideally like to have attached to a first championship since 1971. There have been other instances, driven by lockouts, where the NBA season’s shape has changed and qualifiers could be applied to any discussion of that season’s champion, but this year could yet prove to be more dramatic than any of those.

If that was to be the case for Milwaukee, there’s little question that those who always looked to doubt or besmirch the Bucks’ credentials would latch on to the outcome and look to offer frequent mention of an asterisk. From a Bucks’ perspective, would fans really care what anyone else has to say at that point, though?

Having been starved of success for so long, the Bucks being crowned champions would undoubtedly be a cause for celebration in any form. But beyond that, is it not true that this title might be more worth celebrating than any for whichever team proves successful?

Maybe it would go down alongside an asterisk in the history books, but given all that people around the world have gone through, there will be an extra element of catharsis and additional joy attached to all sports when we come through the other side of the current global health emergency.

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As Bucks fans, if the resumption to normal life was to end up accompanied by a championship celebration, that would more than ease the blow of any potential asterisk. After all, they could always look to follow it up with another title in the more traditional fashion too.