Early in this NBA season, one of the “things” that has cropped up, courtesy of an idea germinated on Reddit, endorsed by Grantland, and put into easy-to-follow visual form on its own website is the mythical NBA Regular Season Championship Belt.
Basically, it works like a wrestling or boxing championship belt. You start with last season’s winner of the NBA Finals – in this case, the Miami Heat – and the belt is on the line in every game. If the holder wins, they retain. If the challenger wins, they are the new champion.
This season, the Heat successfully defended the title against the Chicago Bulls on opening night, but 24 hours later, the previously-assumed-to-be-tanking Philadelphia 76ers upset the champions and stole the belt, which they then successfully defended twice before getting steamrolled by the Golden State Warriors.
The San Antonio Spurs took out the Warriors on November 8, and then humiliated the New York Knicks yesterday before they brought the belt back to Philadelphia tonight.
Suffice to say, the Spurs are still the champs.
Regular seasons are long, and in leagues such as the NBA and NHL, where over half the league makes the playoffs, the season can sometimes seem like it doesn’t mean much. This was started as a fun thing to keep track of during the season, and folks have gone back and tracked the belt back through the 2000-01 season.
And it certainly is a fun thing, but of course, I have a problem. See, it’s the “Regular Season Championship Belt.” So why, then, should last season’s playoff champ start out with it? Why not the team that held it when the previous season ended? On April 7, the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers and took the RSCB. The Clippers then won their next five games to close out the season as the champs. So why, then, should the Heat inherit the title the following year?
You could argue that the Clippers lost it to the Grizzlies in the playoffs, who lost it to the Spurs, who then lost it to the Heat, and that’s how Miami got it. However, I will point once again to the “regular season” portion of the name and say no.
So, if the Clippers retained the belt, who would have it now? Well, the Clippers would have handed it back to the Lakers on opening night, who then would have lost it to the Warriors a day later. Golden State would have held it for just one day themselves, as they lost to the Clippers. Imagine that; the Clippers would have lost and regained the belt within 48 hours. Drama!
From there, the belt would have passed to the Orlando Magic and then the Boston Celtics, who would still currently hold the belt after beating the Magic again tonight.
Actually, you know what? Forget it. I’d rather have the Spurs holding the belt than the Celtics. Forget I said anything.