Miami Heat: What an NBA Title During a Shortened Season Will Really Mean

Andre KhatchaturianCorrespondent IIIDecember 29, 2011

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 27:  LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat look on during a game against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena on December 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Legendary head coach Phil Jackson once said that the San Antonio Spurs' title which they earned back in 1999 should have an asterisk because of the shortened NBA season. Jackson's exact words:

"New York finished eighth that year and obviously an up-and-coming San Antonio team, which turned out to be quite a great team, but those were the teams that ended up in the finals, but when teams would play 18-19 games in the last month of the season it broke down some of the older steady teams because of that impact of a heavy schedule. I always kind of term that as an asterisk season out of this fun at poking fun at San Antonio."

Since we're in a middle of another shortened season because of the NBA lockout, does this mean that if the Miami Heat win the title, it doesn't mean as much?

Absolutely not. If the Heat, or any other team, win the title this year, it'll mean just as much as a championship during an 82-game schedule.

Jackson may be the greatest coach to ever live, but in this case he's absolutely wrong. 

First of all, the playoffs aren't being shortened. It's the regular season that's not as long as it usually is. The Heat still need to win four best-of-seven playoff series against the best teams in the NBA. 

In fact, the postseason will be even more difficult for teams because the playoffs will require back-to-back games in the second round, something that isn't generally done. 

If anything, a championship by the Heat will be a testament to their athleticism. Playing basketball with a condensed schedule filled with three, sometimes four games per week can be detrimental to teams who aren't in shape or are older. 

Some teams can even get burned out by the time the playoffs start. 

One may argue that the shortened training camp does not allow other teams with new players to jell together before the season starts. The Heat already have the same bunch from last year and are already used to playing with each other.

Is that Miami's problem? Why should they be punished that their players already have chemistry? Other teams should do a better job in putting teams together so that they won't have that problem.

And besides, Miami showed last season that chemistry development lasts about 20 games. They started the season 9-8 before they starting winning regularly.

So even if it takes 20 games for a team with new players, like the Los Angeles Clippers, to get used to each other, they'll still have over 40 games to put on a run and make the playoffs. 

Also, it's not like anybody was doubting the Heat making the playoffs. The regular season is used to determine which teams make the playoffs. It's a given that the Heat will be able to make it to the playoffs and probably even get a top-four seed in the East. They're too talented to not make the playoffs.

If the playoffs were shortened and each series became a best-of-three rather than a best-of-seven, then it would be fair to put an asterisk if any team won a title. 

But this is not the case. The Heat are pretty much playing 16 fewer regular season games, but during a much more condensed period time. It can be argued that this year's 66-game schedule is a lot more challenging than the regular 82-game schedule.

There's a reason why good teams like the Heat and Lakers often get complacent during the long season. They get bored. That fourth game against the Minnesota Timberwolves just doesn't rile up emotions. A 66-game schedule requires more focus and attention to detail. Games matter more because there isn't much time to make up ground.  

This is why if the Heat win the title this year, it'll actually mean more for their legacy. Once again, the playoffs aren't changing. They still have to win four series. Only difference is that they have to do it with more tired legs come May because of the condensed schedule. So essentially it's harder to win a championship during these types of lockout effected seasons.

The same goes for the Spurs. Their championship from 1999 is well deserved, and Jackson should keep quiet. Not even his 11 rings give him the right to belittle a world-class achievement.