There are many NBA fans who have no memories of NBA playoffs without LeBron James, but those fans will experience that this year. James’ first season with the Lakers will go down as a franchise-record sixth consecutive trip to the draft lottery, not the postseason, after losing to D’Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.
It’s been a long, long time since James wasn’t in the playoffs; just think about it, 13 consecutive postseasons. The last James-led team to miss the postseason was the 2004-05 Cavaliers, in James’ second professional season, which is incredible. Cavaliers went 42-40 (usually enough to make the playoffs in the East, right?), but lost out on a tiebreaker with the New Jersey Nets.
A lot has happened over 13 years, in the league and outside of it. What were you doing the last time LeBron didn’t make the playoffs? What was the world like way back in 2005?
Here are things that will show you just how impressive LeBron James’ run has been:
The NBA made its return to Charlotte
The Charlotte Bobcats became the league’s 30th franchise at the time. The Bobcats finished their inaugural season 18–64. Emeka Okafor won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Robert L. Johnson was the majority owner, and Michael Jordan bought a minority stake in the team after the following season.
Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace) received the longest suspension in NBA history
The Indiana Pacers- Detroit Pistons brawl (known as the Malice at the Palace) resulted in record-breaking suspensions. League suspended nine players for a total of what eventually became 146 games (137 games for Pacers players and nine games for Pistons players). Artest was given the longest suspension – 86 games (73 regular season and 13 subsequent playoff games), the longest for an on-court incident in NBA history.
Steve Nash returned to Phoenix
Mike D’Antoni was promoted from Assistant to Head Coach, instituting a run-and-gun, free-styling type of play called the ‘Seven Seconds or Less’ offense. The Suns finished with the best overall record (62-20) in the NBA, a 33-game improvement over the prior year. Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion were named All-Stars while D’Antoni won the Coach of the Year Award. Nash also won his first MVP Award.
Seattle Supersonics were still in the league
The 2004-05 campaign was the Seattle SuperSonics’ 38th season in the NBA. The team surprised many when it won the organization’s sixth division title. Led by Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the Sonics finished third in the West with 52 wins. This is the last time the franchise made the postseason in Seattle. They beat the Sacramento Kings to advance to the 2005 Western Conference Semifinals.
Chris Andersen delivered historic performances in the dunk contest
Yes, Birdman participated in the dunk contest. During the 2005 All-Star Saturday, Chris Andersen “created” one of the worst performances in dunk contest history! It took him nine tries to get the first dunk and then six for the second one, which felt like an eternity.
Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Heat
Shaquille O’Neal was in his first season in the South Beach. The new-look Heat surpassed expectations, claiming the best record in the East with 59 wins. He averaged 22.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks, and narrowly lost the 2004–05 MVP Award to Suns guard Steve Nash in one of the closest votes in NBA history.
NBA introduced new divisional alignment
This season was the first year of the new divisional alignments, separating the league into six divisions of five teams instead of the previous four divisions of varying numbers of teams. As part of this realignment, the New Orleans Hornets moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference.
and other miscellaneous stuff…
It was also Reggie Miller’s final season in the league, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was an All-Star (seriously!), Jason Kidd led the association with eight triple-doubles, Fred Hoiberg led all players in three-point field-goals percentage, and Andrei Kirilenko led in blocks per game.
In other leagues…
In National Football League, Tom Brady celebrated his third Super Bowl victory, as his New England Patriots edged the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 39 (Paul McCartney performed during the half-time show at Alltel Stadium).
The NHL lockout saw the entire, what would have been the 88th, season canceled. The lockout lasted 10 months. It was the first time since 1919 the Stanley Cup was not awarded, and the first time a major professional sports league in North America canceled an entire season because of a labor dispute.
In the Major League Baseball, the Anaheim Angels changed their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Chicago White Sox defeated the Houston Astros in a four-game sweep in the World Series, winning their first championship since 1917.
The 2005 season was the tenth season of Major League Soccer. Landon Donovan signed a multi-year contract with Los Angeles that made him the highest-paid American player in the league. In his first season with the Galaxy, he won his third MLS Cup.
Clint Eastwood’s emotional knockout, “Million Dollar Baby”, won the best picture at the 77th Annual Academy Awards. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith was released and became the number one movie. The sixth installment of the series grossed $848 million across the globe. Hitch starring Will Smith and Kevin James was released, and the first installment in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (Batman Begins) was about to hit cinemas.
Mariah Carey releases her tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi. The album went on to become the best-selling album of 2005 in the US, and the second-best seller worldwide. “We Belong Together” spent 14 weeks at the top of the charts and became the first song to simultaneously occupy the number one position on nine Billboard charts. Destiny’s Child announced they will disband upon completion of their Destiny Fulfilled… and Lovin’ It concert tour. Lil’ Kim was sentenced to a year in prison for lying to a federal grand jury. Rihanna was about to release her debut album.
We have state of the art iPhones now, but in 2005, Motorola RAZR V3 was the thing. Microsoft officially unveiled the Xbox 360 gaming console, competing with Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii. Apple released the first generation of the tiny music player, called iPod shuffle.
…..last but not least, Social Media
Sorry, what are you talking about? Yes, the social networks that we love, that have become an addiction for many people and are used by billions, weren’t even a thing. Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, or LinkedIn all didn’t exist. The first-ever YouTube video (titled Me at the zoo) was uploaded three days after the NBA season ended, and Facebook was still known as “The Facebook” for college users, just celebrating its first birthday.
Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference, ESPN, and Wikipedia.