Budenholzer: NBA champion this season would be ‘more worthy and more special’ than any other year

When the NBA restarts its season in Orlando later this month it will do so more than four months after play was suspended due to the coronavirus and will happen with just 22 of the league’s 30 teams. The games will be played at neutral sites and no fans in the stands.

Those abnormal circumstances have led some to suggest that whatever team ends up claiming the championship will have an asterisk next to its name. That somehow the accomplishment of winning a title in a bubble in the midst of a global pandemic and social unrest is not as worthy as doing it any other year. But not everyone feels that way. Certainly not Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer.

“The champion from this experience, this season, I think is going to be more worthy and more special than any champion,” Budenholzer said Wednesday morning. “Every year there are things, I guess, in theory make it easier to be the champion, and every year I think there are things in reality that make it more difficult to be the champion. Usually the things that make it more difficult far outweigh anything that makes it less or easier, if that’s even the right word.

“I think the challenges of this season — this pandemic, everything that’s happening in our country — the ability for a team to go back and compete and play against the other 21 teams in the NBA and come out as a champion, in my mind, it will be more special.”

Star Giannis Antetokounmpo was of the same mindset regarding a potential asterisk.

“At the end of the day, this is going to be the toughest championship you could ever win because the circumstances are really, really tough right now,” the reigning NBA MVP said. “Whoever wants it more is going to be able to go out there and take it.”