If the Los Angeles Clippers end up winning the 2019-20 NBA championship, head coach Doc Rivers intends to celebrate like he would any other season.
Rivers argued this week that any team that returns from the prolonged hiatus to win the NBA title deserves extra recognition, rather than having the authenticity of its triumph questioned.
"You could make the (case) that this is the hardest one to win in a lot of ways because part of winning a title is keeping your focus. Teams that keep their focus throughout this whole time, they're gonna deserve it," Rivers told his son, Austin, on Uninterrupted's "Go Off with Austin Rivers" podcast. "But listen, it's so hard to win. ... You know I always say that the people who say, 'Put an asterisk by it,' they're the losers. The winners don't ever say, 'Put an asterisk by it'. We won.
"Let me say this: If we win it, we're gonna have a parade, we're gonna have a big trophy in our case, and we're gonna get rings. And then on opening night the next year, we're going to let the banner go down. So whoever wins it, wins it."
Some in the basketball world have cast doubts on whether a potential 2019-20 champion would deserve the same merit as past title winners.
While calling on the NBA to cancel the rest of the campaign, Hall of Fame center Shaquille O'Neal said earlier this month that there would be an asterisk next to whatever team wins the title.
"They're not going to get the respect," O'Neal said last week. "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."
The NBA has yet to determine how it would finish the current season or carry out the playoffs if conditions are safe enough to resume play.
Rivers coached the Boston Celtics to the 2008 championship and looked set to contend for a title this year. Before the season was suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Clippers were 44-20 and sat second in the Western Conference behind the rival Los Angeles Lakers.