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Without the NBA Playoffs 2015: The Legends and the Superstars

Photo Source: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Source: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

S o far, in the 2015 NBA playoffs we have watched some great games filled with intensity, desire, competitiveness and individual efforts.

Up and coming stars like Steph Curry, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and Jimmy Butler showed their immense potential, old fellows Duncan, Nowitzki, Ginobili, Randolph, Pierce, Gasol and James are still there rolling, but you can not avoid the thought that the postseason is not the same without some well-known folks.

Yeah, I mean on Kobe in the first place. But there are many other guys who left their mark in NBA history and won’t participate in the playoffs because of injuries, bad luck or weak rosters. We were addicted to their on-court wizardry and trademark moves.

* Do you know this is the first time that both, Wade and Bryant, missed the playoffs? One of them orbothplayed from 2003-2014 every season.

* Also, this would be the first time since 2007 that Kevin Garnett (traded to Minnesota during the season) and Ray Allen (nearing retirement) won’t participate in the postseason. It is safe to say that one era of NBA basketball is over. We will present to you the best of superstars who got the extra vacation this spring.

* NBA Playoffs 2015 (Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen) - This is the first team since 1996, we are not watching minimum one of the legendary players in the playoff.

Best Superstars Without The NBA Playoffs 2015

Kobe Bryant

Are you aware that Kobe played his last playoff game back in 2012? The greatest basketball player since Jordan’s second retirement in 1998 and one of the ten greatest ever was slowed down by merciless injuries, including torn Achilles tendon, knee fracture and shoulder sprains.

The Lakers had second of the worst seasons in the franchise history since unsuccessful experiment with Howard and Nash. Gasol left the club via free agency. They have an awkward roster and since the departure of Jackson in 2011 the Lakers can’t find the reliable head coach. Countless injuries of their key players also played the major role in the fall of the most popular and recognizable NBA franchise. Julius Randle, seventh pick from the 2014 NBA draft broke his leg in his very first NBA game.

Kobe went down in the mid-season after surpassing Michael Jordan and becoming NBA’s third leading scorer. He dropped 44 points on the Warriors and their stifling defense. His tank is not empty, Kobe still can dominate, maybe not through overpowering athleticism and physical gifts, but rather with his elegance, knowledge, excellent footwork, experience and ability to adapt to any situation.

The man who won 5 rings; gave us 81 point game; hit numerous game winners; outscored the whole Mavericks roster after three quarters in 2005; scored 30 points in a quarter twice; scored 50+ points in 4 consecutive games and broke many NBA records, is heading to the retirement with very few things that are certain at this point of his career.

It is questionable will his body let him down again, will the Lakers gather enough talent around him this summer, is Byron Scott the right man for the Lakers bench, can he play full season at the high level... but one thing is for sure: one way or another, the Black Mamba will make it memorable.

Kevin Durant

After missing a total of 16 games in his first 7 NBA seasons, this year Durant appeared in just 27 games. That is the main reason why Oklahoma missed the playoffs despite terrific efforts from Westbrook. KD already has 4 scoring titles. The only other players with 4 or more scoring crowns are Jordan, Chamberlain, Gervin and Iverson. The pretty exclusive company, huh?

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Kevin was the best player in the NBA last season, and it is pretty obvious that he’d remain that this year but injuries took its toll. Durant is the offensive mastermind and a force of nature that won’t be seen in the next 15 or 20 years.

In 2013, he became the member of an elite 50-40-90 club, along with Bird, Price, Miller, Nash and Nowitzki. He was the NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP, Rookie of the Year, Olympic gold medalist and World Champion. Unlike Wade and Kobe, Durant is at the peak of his powers, entering his prime years and that is one more reason to regret not having him in the playoffs.

His sole presence guaranteed that Oklahoma could defeat any team on any night. This kind of poetry in motion and elegance Durant’s name was enough to make opponent’s coach sweat in fear. Next summer he will enter free agency, but before that happens, with healthy Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka the Thunder will be the team to beat next season. Let's cheer for Durant, or at least for him to be on his usual level, so if someone is better, Kevin will be the first to congratulate them.

Dwyane Wade

The greatest player in the Miami Heat history (sorry Lebron) is issuing painful knee problems for many years, and they are limiting him since 2012/13 season. Once unstoppable force on the perimeter, nowadays Wade is not capable of leading the NBA in scoring like he did in 2009, but he can still drop 40 on any defense if he gets hot.

Flash is primarily shootingguard, but he also played as a playmaker and averaged 6+ assists per game in 6 different seasons. It is clear that he could run the offense. This season he was again All-Star and Heat’s top offensive option, but his chronic injuries combined with Chris Bosh’s season-ending troubles with blood clots in his lungs costed Miami the spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The core of Dragić, Wade, Deng, Bosh and Whiteside seemed to be capable for much more than just making the postseason, but basketball is more than just the simple sum of individual quality. Wade will go down as a Top 5 SG in history, elite two-way guard and possibly the best slasher ever. He is a no-brainer HOF-er. We will miss his fierce character, scoring sequences, insane blocks and dunks, improbable drives and shots to beat the buzzer.

Carmelo Anthony

Melo is regarded as the most complete and polished offensive player of his generation, leading the league in scoring in 2013 and posting a multitude of 40+ point games. He was seen as a savior of the Knicks franchise and it looked like he is doing a good job but over the last two years the Knicks are again, you know, the Knicks. Which means they are awful. Since the departure of center Patrick Ewing, the Knicks weren’t championship contenders, 16 years ago.

They barely made a couple of postseason appearances in this century. Bad moves like hiring incompetent coaches, overpaying washed up stars and drafting suspicious talents made New York one of the least successful teams in NBA. But Anthony is a bona fide superstar and beside James and Durant there is non better small forward in the game. He is the best cornerman when healthy. He is strong, big, fast and one hell of a shooter. Carmelo’s jab step is one of the most recognizable moves in basketball. You can count on Anthony’s 25 points and 8 rebounds on every given night. Melo is probably the safest game closer in NBA. Once he scored 33 points in a single quarter. If you search the word ’scorer’ in your browser, there is a great possibility that Melo’s picture will be in the results.

Russell Westbrook

When was the last time that a scoring champion didn’t lead his team into the playoffs like Westbrook? Tracy McGrady in 2003/04.

This season Russell enjoyed the finest stats of his career: he finished first in NBA in scoring (28.1 ppg), second in steals (2.1 spg), fourth in assists (8.6 per game), second in both free throws made and attempted, second in PER (29.1), first in box +/- and fifth in total win shares.

He recorded 11 triple-doubles in a season, which is absolutely mind-blowing. There are few more thrilling and entertaining players in NBA than Westbrook. If the Thunder succeeded in making the playoffs, Russell would have been serious MVP candidate. You can like him or not, but you certainly must respect his competitive fire and devotion. He puts his heart on the table in every game. Russell will sacrifice his own body for the win. Sometimes he looks selfish and overconfident, taking highly contested shots and ignoring his wide open teammates, but all of what he’s doing has one purpose in Westbrook’s brain: get the job done. Russell would be the main weapon and go-to guy in at least 20 NBA franchises, but he chose to play Robin to Durant’s Batman in Oklahoma. Westbrook offers spectacle and a pay per view show whenever he steps on the court. He takes every defeat, every bad call and mistake personally and emotionally. Instead of hating and underestimating we should all appreciate what Russell is showing. His game is the best answer on the critics.

Honorable mentions: Chris Bosh, Paul George, Luol Deng, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen (he didn’t announce retirement yet) and immortal JaVale McGee (just kidding).

I didn't mention DeMarcus Cousins because he never played in the playoff before.