LeBron James has become the face of the playoffs but the Lakers superstar is in danger of missing the postseason for the first time in 14 years.
The last time the playoffs were James-less was in 2004-05, when the Spurs reigned supreme, while the three-time champion has featured in the past eight NBA Finals.
James swapped the Cavaliers for the Lakers in the offseason — hoping to guide the iconic Los Angeles franchise to the playoffs for the first time in six years.
The 34-year-old, however, is facing one of his biggest challenges. Despite proclaiming he “activated” his playoff intensity earlier than usual, the Lakers still find themselves three games adrift of the final postseason spot in the Western Conference.
With the season on the line, we take a look at what the world looked like in 2004-05, when James last missed the playoffs.
Brady had three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots
While James and the Cavs missed out on the playoffs with a 42-40 record in the east, Tom Brady and the Patriots celebrated another Super Bowl.
The Patriots edged the Eagles 24-21 in Jacksonville, where Paul McCartney performed during the halftime show at Alltel Stadium.
Brady was 23 of 33 for 236 yards and two touchdowns as he won a third ring in four years. This year, he claimed his record sixth Super Bowl crown.
Seattle SuperSonics were still a thing in the NBA
The 2004-05 campaign was the Seattle SuperSonics’ 38th season in the NBA before relocating and becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.
During that season, the Sonics — led by Ray Allen — finished third in the Western Conference with 52 wins. They beat the Sacramento Kings 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs but fell to the Spurs, the eventual champions, in the conference semis.
NBA draft prospect Zion was five years old
Projected number one draft pick Zion Williamson is set to follow in the footsteps of James and take the NBA by storm. The North Carolina-born forward was just five years of age in 2005, when James’ Cavaliers lost a tiebreaker for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference to the Nets.
Mourinho won the first of his Premier League titles at Chelsea
Jose Mourinho was lured away from Champions League winners Porto by Chelsea in 2004-05. It proved to be a masterstroke by owner Roman Abramovich.
Mourinho — the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ — announced himself in England with the Premier League title thanks to a then-record 95-point haul.
NHL lockout stopped the season
Not since 1919 had a Stanley Cup not been awarded but that is exactly what happened in 2004-05 over a pay dispute.
The NHL lockout saw the entire season canceled — resulting in 1,230 unplayed games. The lockout lasted 10 months and six days, starting on September 16, 2004 before a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was reached on July 13 with the impasse officially ending on July 22.
It was the first time a major professional sports league in North America canceled a complete season over a labor dispute.
Batman Begins, Star Wars took the world by storm
Batman films had come and gone but Christopher Nolan’s first installment in his trilogy of movies left a lasting impression.
Starring Christian Bale, ‘Batman Begins’ was released on June 15, 2005 and grossed over $48 million on the opening weekend in North America. Worldwide, the blockbuster eventually grossed $374 million, leading to an Academy Award nomination.
‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’ also hit the cinemas in May. The George Lucas juggernaut broke several box office records during its opening week. The sixth installment of the film series generated $848 million across the globe.
Apple released iPod shuffle, Bill Gates knighted by the Queen
We have state of the art iPod touch’s but in 2005, the iPod shuffle was just hitting shelves. Apple released the first generation of the tiny music player in January that year.
Two months later, the king of computer software and Microsoft owner Bill Gates received an honorary knighthood from the Queen.