This Houston Rockets guard believes this NBA championship will be toughest one yet

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) fouls Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers (25) as he goes to the basket in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) (Rick Bowmer, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers said this upcoming NBA championship will be harder than any other.

“People are saying that whoever wins will have an asterisk by them, and I agree but for the opposite reason,” Rivers said. “You’re asking guys to take so much time off and try to regain.”

For example, Rivers highlighted the Los Angeles Lakers, who were rolling before the season was postponed due to COVID-19. Lakers starting guard Avery Brandley isn’t returning, and the Lakers signed J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters to fill the void.

“You have guys who have been sitting out,” he said. “Guys who have been without their families. A lot is going on in the world. You have to worry about your family getting the virus. You got social injustices.”

Rivers added that the players have to live and play in a bubble.

“You have to make up time and focus on playing basketball,” he said. “So, I just think this is going to be one of the hardest championships ever won. Every other season has been the exact same. This is the first time in NBA history that’s going to be different... I think the winner isn’t necessarily going to be the best team, but the team that wants to be there.”

Rivers also made waves after he posted an Instagram comment disagreeing with Kyrie Irving’s stance of playing in a bubble.

“My opinion wasn’t even saying Kyrie was wrong, it was more different,” he said. “I understand what he meant in a lot of ways. I think it’s admirable that he wants social change, and I want it too. I just thought the way I want to go about is different than he does. It’s not that it was right or wrong.”

He said many players added his comments to their Instagram stories while others sent direct messages.

“NBA All-Stars that I was on the phone with appreciated the comments that I said,” Rivers said.

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