With the NBA Finals finished, it’s time to reflect on an exceptional and unique season of basketball. While the talking heads of basketball media will be dissecting the winners and losers of the Bubble for months to come, The McGill Tribune pays homage to some of the more unique accomplishments of the post-season.
Biggest Quarantine Glow-Up – Nikola Jokic
Staying in playing shape during their five-month hiatus from the NBA was not only difficult for players, but also seemed impractical, considering the uncertainty of a restart. While some players got out of shape, Nikola Jokic came out of quarantine looking like a new man. Jokic has always been an incredible player, but his stature is not typical of an NBA athlete. While Jokic usually lumbers awkwardly out of the tunnel for tip-off, in his Bubble debut on July 30, he sauntered out with a youthful spring in his step. It’s fair to say that Jokic beat us all in the self-improvement race during quarantine.
Most Likely to Become a Business Owner – Jimmy Butler
The entire Miami Heat team deserves major props for their extraordinary Cinderella run, but it is Jimmy Butler’s gumption, both on and off the court, that exemplified this grit. Recognizing the abysmal coffee options at Walt Disney World, Butler started his own coffee shop, Big Face Coffee, out of his hotel room. For good coffee, caffeine-deficient players were apparently willing to pay up, given the whopping $20-a-cup price tag. It seems like Butler’s on-court tenacity has found its way into his side hustle.
Social Distancing Defence – Hassan Whiteside
Delusional fans hopped on the Portland Trail Blazers bandwagon after a game one victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers proceeded to break the Blazers’ hearts, dominating center Hassan Whiteside. Modern NBA centers are expected to switch on screens, keep guards from driving, and prevent easy layups in the paint. Instead, Whiteside showcased subpar defence, letting guards blow by him, tripping his teammates, and fouling every single time it looked like the Blazers had a chance to regain the lead.
Most Punctual – LeBron James
While fans may continue to chide James for coasting through the regular season, it’s clear that he has a knack for showing up at just the right time. Playing his ninth finals in 10 years, the 35-year-old has not only been a dependable leader for the Lakers, he’s also delivered a masterclass performance in nearly every game this post-season. In terms of sustained dominance, LeBron is second to none.
2020 All-NBA “Team Beard”
The resumption of play on July 30 wasn’t just about basketball, it was a chance for the players to flex the facial hair that they have been growing during months in quarantine. Starting at power forward, LeBron James leaned even further into his “Honest Abe” chin strap, adding a James Harden-esque amount of volume. Next at small forward is Gordon Hayward, who came back looking more dapper than ever. His slight stubble served only to accent his sleek moustache—a bold statement in a league dominated by more and more beards. Shooting guard James Harden has commanded the league for years with his carpet of a beard, but managed to outdo himself, adding even more length to his already Santa Claus-level facial hair. Joining him in the frontcourt is Seth Curry, who balances out Harden’s wiry mane with a patchy beard that works surprisingly well. Finally, at center we have Joakim Noah, who took some time off from the set of Cast Away 2 to make an appearance in the Bubble.