Nuggets eliminate Lakers, usher in new era with playoff occurrence unseen since 2005

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets - Game Five
Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets - Game Five / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

With the Nuggets victory on Monday night, they eliminated the Lakers in five games and ended the season for LeBron James and company. Elsewhere around the NBA, other aging superstars saw their seasons end early as well; Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns were swept out of round one by the Timberwolves, and Stephen Curry and the Warriors failed to even reach the playoffs.

LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant all fail to reach round 2

None of these events in and of themselves are especially shocking, but the combination is actually relatively uncharted territory. In fact, this marks the first time in almost 20 years that none of LeBron, KD, or Curry have appeared in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

2005 was the last year when none of these superstars made it to round two, which was three years before Durant entered the NBA, and five years before Curry was drafted into the league. It’s a crazy statistic and shows just how much these three stars have dominated this era of basketball.

The trio have been the faces of the league for longer than some fans have been alive, and there are plenty of young fans who are truly seeing this for the first time. We are watching a changing of the guard and a proverbial passing of the torch right before our eyes in real-time.

Young NBA superstars taking over the league

We are seeing the younger generation ascending as it feels like young stars like Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Luka Doncic are set to dominate the league and run the playoffs for the next decade or two.

This is the nature of sports and it happens all the time, but these three generational superstars took it to another level. It has become easy to take their brilliance for granted and to simply expect them to make deep playoff runs annually.

The amazing thing is that despite this streak coming to an end, all three players are still playing at a very high level. Each will likely end up on an All-NBA team this season, and coming into the year, all of their teams had championship aspirations. 

So while this may be the start of a new era, the book may not be closed on these stars just yet. Don’t be surprised if we get one final chapter of this amazing 20-year story.