As LeBron James put the finishing touches on a spectacular fourth quarter to end the Celtics' season, it proved not only significant for James and Wade to get over the hump of Boston disappointments past, but it may have finally pushed the incumbent stars to the background.
It didn't only happen to Boston. Other veteran playoff staples were unceremoniously bounced far sooner than we've become accustomed to.
The Lakers, looking to complete a three-peat, couldn't even win a game in the second round, as they were swept by the Mavericks. While they weren't done in by an upstart squad or burgeoning superstar, they were disposed by a Dallas squad that has only known playoff disappointment since crumbling in the 2006 NBA Finals after taking a 2-0 series lead.
Meanwhile, the revival of the Spurs era – which saw them rebound from a second round sweep to the Suns last year to win the Western Conference regular season crown – ended early.
San Antonio got bounced by the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, becoming just the second team 8-seed in NBA history to beat a 1-seed in the seven-game playoff format.
How big are these results? Since Michael Jordan's second completed three-peat with the Bulls, those three teams have been NBA finalists or Champion in each of the last 12 years. Only in 2006, when the Heat beat the Mavericks, have any of the terrific trio failed to vie for the ‘chip.
In total, they have captured 10 championships. Combined, their rosters are littered with a who's-who of NBA royalty. Consider the following:
5 NBA MVP's: Duncan (2), Bryant, Garnett, O'Neal
4 Scoring Titles: Bryant (2), O'Neal (2)
4 top-30 all-time scorers: Pierce, Duncan, Allen, Garnett
2 top-10 all-time scorers: Bryant, O'Neal
Also, a combination of two of the above mentioned players has littered the all-defensive first and second teams every year post-Jordan.
Duncan, Garnett (with Minnesota), Bryant and Pierce are the all-time leading scorers for a franchise, while Allen is the most prolific three-point shooter of all time. These six are a lock for the Hall of Fame.
While they continue to produce at a high level (minus Shaq), this playoff season has seen other teams emerge from the ‘younger' elite to get their chance at a title in a chase that appears more wide open than ever.
And it's hard to pick a favourite, because we are unsure of how they will react, since they've hardly ever made it to such a grand stage.
Leading the way are the trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami; the super dynamic Thunder duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant; Chicago-bred and dominant Bull Derrick Rose, and a nucleus of cast-offs and up-and-comers in Memphis, led by Zach Randolph.
This mass influx of talent has produced the youngest MVP of all-time, the youngest two-time scoring champion of all-time, and, if this playoff is any indication, the start of a new era in basketball. The last remaining remnants of the stars of the previous era in the playoffs are the Mavericks, led by Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd.
So, after the perennial favourites were bounced from this postseason, does this mark the official changing of the guard in the NBA?
This is your chance to share your opinion. It's Your! Call.