When you think of basketball royalty, the first franchises that likely pop into your head are the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers: 33 championships between them, classic battles throughout history and an overwhelming amount of Hall of Famers who have played on both sides.
Well, neither of those two teams is making the playoffs this season, and you know what, neither are the New York Knicks, marking the first time in NBA history that all three of those ballclubs have missed the postseason in the same year.
Pretty crazy, right?
Now, obviously, the Knicks are not in the same stratosphere as the Celtics and Lakers in terms of success, but they are still a major-market ballclub that, outside of a dry spell in the 2000s, is generally a playoff contender.
Plus, New York has had a longstanding rivalry with Boston, and the two teams had met in the postseason in two of the past three years.
There will be no such meeting in 2014.
There will be no chance of another Celtics-Lakers battle in the Finals.
No bragging rights between fans of these three historic organizations.
None of that.
Of course, the playoffs will still be great due to their sheer competitiveness, and there will be more than enough drama to satiate us as fans, but having all three of these franchises not qualifying is very significant.
Not that many of us anticipated that Boston and Los Angeles would be playing in late April before the season started (New York is another story entirely, but we don't have time for that), but still—wow—we're just not used to this.
"I don't like this season. I don't like being eliminated from playoff contention already. It's only March," Lakers executive Jeannie Buss told Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times back when L.A. was first eliminated.
Now, the last time that two of these teams missed the playoffs in the same year? Not that far off, as the Celtics and Knicks both failed to qualify during the 2006-07 season. Of course, that ensuing summer, Boston acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and went on to win a title the next year.
Here are a couple more little relevant nuggets to chew on: This will be the first time Carmelo Anthony has missed the postseason in his career, and this will also be the first time that Kobe Bryant has missed the playoffs two years in a row.
Remember, when Los Angeles made the playoffs last season, Bryant was out with the ruptured Achilles. This time around, it's a double whammy: Bryant is out with a fractured tibia, and L.A. is out of the playoffs as a whole.
It's been a strange season indeed—one that we won't soon forget, but strange.