I’m not much of a basketball fan. I played it as a kid but can’t say I follow the professionals. However, some athletes transcend their sport and Shaquille O’Neal is certainly one of those.
In a recent interview, Shaq was asked about the possibility of the NBA coming up with a scheme to finish the season that is in abeyance pending the development of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hall of Famer is against the idea completely, stating:
I think we should scrap the season. Everybody go home, get healthy, come back next year. Just scrap the season. Just scrap it. To try and come back now and do a rush playoffs as a player? Any team that wins this year, there’s an asterisk. They’re not going to get the respect. What if a team that’s not really in the mix of things all of a sudden wins with a new playoff format? Nobody is going to respect that. So, scrap it. Worry about the safety of the fans and the people. Come back next year.
I agree fully. The hockey season is also on hold due to COVID and similar talks are underway. The idea of completing the 2019-2020 NHL season is being bandied about but no decisions have been made yet. Obviously, it’s a complex issue: can fans attend, what about travel, where will games be played, and which teams would qualify?
When the NHL paused the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in a playoff position. However, with a dozen games left they were not guaranteed a spot. If the league decided to use the ‘current’ standings to determine the playoff teams, Toronto would be in. And the broadcasters (CBC et al) would be pleased. The greater Toronto area makes up a huge chunk of their audience; the Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967. This might just be the leg up they need.
But keep in mind what Shaq says – Any team that wins this year, there’s an asterisk. They’re not going to get the respect – I believe that holds true for the NHL as well.