When you tell someone that Lebron James has been to 8 straight Finals, it doesn't sound crazily impressive to the casual fan. When you look back at the NBA though the last time he wasn't in the Finals, which was the 2009-2010 season, you truly see how long he's been ruling the East and how different the league was.
Here's a list of guys who still logged NBA minutes in the league back in the 2009-2010 season: Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Shaq, Rasheed Wallace, Gerald Wallace, Monta Ellis, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Nash, Marcus Camby, and Brandon Roy.
Iverson spent all of 10 minutes in Memphis in 2009 before returning to Philadelphia to finish his career, he even made the All Star team in 2010 too. T Mac and Yao Ming were still a duo in Houston, despite being in the twilight of both their respected careers. Shaq was actually part of Lebron's Cavaliers team and the plan was apparently that a 36 year old Shaq would push Cleveland over the hump; on the opposite end was Rasheed Wallace who was added to Boston to bolster their bench for a Finals run. Guys like Monta Ellis and Gilbert Arenas were still cornerstones in their respected franchises; yes it's been that long that both Stephen Curry and John Wall were not house hold names. Steven Nash was 35 years old but was still holding it down in Phoenix with Amare, who was also only 27 years old at the time. Lastly Brandon Roy still had his knees under him and was still part of Portland's hopeful “Big Three” with Greg Oden and a 24 year old LaMarcus Aldridge.
The last time Lebron wasn't in the Finals, James Harden was just starting his rookie year. Harden would join Blake Griffin, DeMar Derozan, Jrue Holiday, Stephen Curry, and Danny Green as rookies that year; it's worth noting Lebron has beaten all of them besides Blake in the post season.
Kevin Durant was only 21 years old back in the 2009-2010 season; Durant posted 30 points per game that season and his Thunder made their first playoff appearance that year as an 8th seed. That Thunder team was still coached by Scott Brooks, Russell Westbrook wasn't an All Star, and James Harden was rocking a head band and hadn't even started a NBA game.
Remember Deron Williams? Yeah back in 2009-2010 he was still in Utah and was arguably one of the best point guards in the league. Next to Deron was Carlos Boozer, who was still a threat and soon to be part of a huge free agency class.
Joe Johnson and the 2009-2010 Atlanta Hawks were actually good, but not great. Joe Johnson was actually an All Star starter that year! That Hawks squad still had a young Al Horford and Josh Smith. Smith at the time was still considered to have a huge upside at the time, which we all know that turned out.
As I mentioned earlier, Monta Ellis was still in the league and was lighting it up on a Warriors squad that would win under 30 games that year. His season average of 25.5 points per game led that Warriors squad by a huge margin.
Gilbert Arenas was still shooting it up, not literally yet, in Washington and was still the star guard there over a young John Wall.
Lebron James would win the 2010 MVP award that season, but on the list of players who received votes there are quite a few surprises. Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowiztki, Deron Williams, and Chris Bosh all received some votes in the MVP race that year.
Dwight Howard would go onto winning another Defensive Player of the Year award; Howard won the award over runner up Josh Smith and Gerald Wallace. I kid you not, both Smith and Wallace received DPOY votes that season.
The rookie of the year was Tyreke Evans, who was suppose to be the upcoming leader for the Sacramento Kings; Stephen Curry was a closed second with Brandon Jennings coming in third.
Lastly Jamal Crawford won one of his many Sixth Man of the Year Awards with the Atlanta Hawks. Would you believe that Jamal was only 29 years old at this time?? The runner up was Jason Terry who was playing with the Mavericks and Anderson Varejao who was still on the Cavaliers roster.