While many purists, perhaps, lament the loss of the Lakers and the Celtics in this year's playoffs, and many previous contenders, such as Orlando, Cleveland, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Denver find themselves home early, the 2011 Playoffs may become one of the most important in a long time.
History wise, the NBA's Final Four is loaded with a lot of stars (and longtime role players) who have traveled the NBA wasteland for decades, almost, and have never reached the ultimate prize: a championship.
Sure, every year a contender might have a ringless wonder on its squad looking to compete but the last few years have been legacy matches between giants: Kobe getting rings No. 4 and 5, KG finally grasping the trophy, Tim Duncan cementing his legacy as one of the greatest power forwards ever, etc.
But with the exception of Dwyane Wade, each team's mega-superstar is ringless. And right next to them are a number of well-deserving journeymen and role players who have also searched for, but have yet to find, that lovely jewelry that defines a career.
Careers and legacies are at stake. For some, the time is NOW. For others, it's a bonus prize for a career that has a long way to go.
But for the most part, this year's playoffs have superstar contenders looking for the big prize. Maybe not for the first time but, for some, the last.