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For first time in 13 years no Kobe, Shaq or Duncan in finals

May 12, 2011, 1:10 PM EDT

Kobe Shaquille O'Neal Lakers Getty Images

In the 1998 NBA finals, Michael Jordan pushed off on Byron Russell to drill the game winner in what was the end of an era in the NBA.

These 2011 finals, wherever and with whomever they take place, will mark the start of a new era.

For the first time since Jordan’s final game as a Bull, the NBA finals will not feature at least one of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal or Tim Duncan. Sekou Smith pointed this out over at NBA.com. While it seemed that streak would almost certainly continue this year heading into the playoffs, the elimination of the Celtics Wednesday night killed the streak.

Think about that for a second … let it marinate … and then realize that those are the three players that define their generation. Their faces make up the Mount Rushmore of the league since 1998. No one starred brighter on the biggest stage as much as — or more often than — those three future Hall of Famers.

Eras never run exactly on decades, even though we tend to define them that way But Kobe, Shaq and Duncan defined the 2000s in the NBA. Duncan and his Spurs with their quiet efficiency winning four titles. The dynamic Lakers of the Shaq/Kobe era, with all its drama on and off the court. Shaq with Dwyane Wade. The latest iteration of the Lakers with Pau Gasol and a long front line.

It’s over.

Who knows how this next decade will be defined. By the Heat and a string of titles. By Derrick Rose leading the Bulls back to glory. As the decade that Oklahoma City became the center of the basketball universe.

But the Kobe, Shaq and Duncan era is coming to an end.

  1. mondzy805 - May 12, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    It’s a new time in the NBA. With D Rose and KD leading the way.

  2. andrejohnsonforpresident - May 12, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    I was just thinking this the other night. Its very exciting to say the least. A new generation of all-stars and teams coming out of no where such as the grizzly’s. The NBA better get their act together with the collective bargaining agreement though, if the Nfl doesnt figure it out and the nba does first. I believe we could see more fans migrate into basketball.

  3. smitheye - May 12, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Stop being an idiot, the Kobe era is not over you clown.

    • andrejohnsonforpresident - May 12, 2011 at 3:06 PM

      Ha really?? He could hardly practice all year. His knees are done and if he does play again it will be his last year.

      • cosanostra71 - May 12, 2011 at 3:17 PM

        they’ve been saying that for years now.

      • andrejohnsonforpresident - May 12, 2011 at 3:52 PM

        Thats true, to everyone thumbing me down don’t think i’m a hater. I’m a huge kobe fan but face the facts.. came in at 18 has played an insane amount of playoff games and has played every season. He has millage that most nba players don’t come close to especially at his age. He doesnt drive to the rim like he used too.. imo its sad but he has what 6 rings?? Why not call it a day.

      • cosanostra71 - May 12, 2011 at 5:29 PM

        why not call it a day? Because he’s still one of the upper tier players in the NBA, on a contending team.

      • andrejohnsonforpresident - May 12, 2011 at 6:04 PM

        Touche kind sir, guess we will have to wait and see!

    • fouldwimmerlaik - May 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      It is all part of Kobe’s plan to make you THINK he is done. He lost the series against Dallas on purpose so that everyone would believe the Lakers are finished. Then, next year, BANG the start or a Four-Peat!

  4. dgforreal - May 12, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    How sweet. Fresh meat.

    -Fredrick Kruger

  5. aqzi - May 12, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Not to degrade Shaq in any way, but isn’t it the first time in 13 years that the NBA finals will not feature Duncan or Kobe?

    • andre504 - May 12, 2011 at 3:50 PM

      You are totally misreading the statement, the 13 years include Shaq as well, ie: LA Lakers dynasty;Miami Heat 2006. I do not believe that Kobe or Duncan was in those finals my dude and without Shaq in the 2006 finals, there would not be a 13 year streak.

    • jstrizzle - May 12, 2011 at 3:55 PM

      Pretty close but you are excluding the finals that featured the Heat and Mavericks.

      • aqzi - May 12, 2011 at 4:16 PM

        Ah right

    • kyleortonsarm - May 13, 2011 at 12:38 AM

      Aqzi is pretty stupid huh.

  6. kyleortonsarm - May 12, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    That’s fine with me. I hope to never see Kobe ever make the playoffs again in his career.

  7. cosanostra71 - May 12, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    13 years later, still can’t believe that no-call on Jordan against Russell.

  8. passerby23 - May 12, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    I’m no Kobe fan, but the guy still has a couple good years left in him in my opinion. It’s true he doesn’t drive to the rim like he used to, he has a lot of mileage, and he is battered with injuries, but he has learned to adapt his game like Jordan did toward the end of his career.

    His mid-range game is among the best in the league, he’s physically stronger, and he’s still a strong defender. He’s still a prolific scorer. Problem is great players often get old fast – especially guards.

    Karl Malone and John Stockton were part of a rare breed where they maintained a consistently high level of play throughout their entire careers. Kobe has two good years left.

  9. uraduntx - May 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    kobe has 2 years left on his contract and to much hunger to tie jordan with 6 rings, any thinking he wont be back is a moron.

  10. 00maltliquor - May 12, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    That is an absolutly amazing fact! Goes to show you just how epically great these 3 players are/were and how hard championships are to come by without the absolute best at any certain position. These 3 beast just hogged up all they could and and once Kobe retires in another 2,3,4 years it will be interesting to see who picks up the ball on that or will it be more dispearsed?

  11. dunkmaster912 - May 13, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    Its amazing how people are trying to say that kobe has nothing left in him… He’s averaging career average numbers andmade the all nba first team and defensive team. Kobe’s still extremely athletic and has the ability to get to the basket and dunk over defenders (Okafor in the first round of the playoffs) like he did when he was young.

    The lakers have also proven that they are a good team and can definitely come back and be a force in the nba. Didnt anyone see how well they played after the all-star break? Sure they tended to not do so hot at the end of the season and it carried over into the playoffs, but the lakers still show that they have the potential to beat the best teams in the league. They just need to be thinking straight and a take a summer off to rest, work on their game, and mentally get back into the state of mind of winning like they have the past 3 years

  12. zrbk - May 13, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    It’s kind of sad … but the new generation must step up.

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