You started out watching the NBA as a grade schooler, emulating your hometown hero on the playground before you even played your first organized game. Whether it was Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson or Michael Jordan himself, your favorite baller gave you satisfaction in the team you proudly cheered for. Like your first crush it was meant to be, forever.
Your careers paralleled, first apexing at the same time. You were averaging six points a night off the high school JV bench while they were challenging for MVPs in the highest league on the planet. When school ended and you were introduced to an "entry-level position," you were simultaneously bummed by tuning into the twilight years and watching your guy struggle to keep up with the younger, fresher-legged competition. Eventually injuries set in and the younger lions assumed the throne. Your favorite player signed a one-day contract to go out "his way," and you asked the question: Where the hell did the time go?
It's sad to see legends hang it up. Not only do we realize we took their 15-year careers for granted, but it also puts into perspective how old we're getting. It's just one step closer to seeing an entire league that's younger than us. But as Mufasa famously said, it's the "Circle of Life," and there's very little difference between watching your dad get trampled to death by a pack of wildebeests, and watching MJ don a Wizards uniform. Here are The Moments We Realized It Was Over for Our Favorite '90s and 2000s Players.