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The last time the NBA Finals started without LeBron James, baseball looked quite different

(Elise Amendola)

Well, LeBron James did it again. He's in the NBA Finals. 
This is the eighth consecutive NBA season in which James has reached the Finals -- four with the Miami Heat and now four with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will play the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 on Thursday night.
If you're like us, you wondered what baseball was like the last time the NBA Finals did not include James. The date was Thursday, June 3, 2010, when the Lakers and Celtics started their seven-game series eventually won by Los Angeles. "Shrek: Forever After" was No. 1 at the box office, and "OMG" by Usher and will.i.am. was the top song in the country. 
In New York that afternoon, the Yankees beat the Orioles, 6-3. CC Sabathia outdueled Kevin Millwood, Mariano Rivera picked up a save and Alex Rodriguez swatted an opposite-field homer:

Meanwhile, the A's won a slugfest over the Red Sox, 9-8, at Fenway Park. Tim Wakefield took the loss, and Jack Cust hit one of his 97 career homers for the A's, a solo shot in the eighth that cleared the right-field wall:

Perhaps one of the more telling "it's been a while since LeBron wasn't in the Finals" examples is this:
Kevin Cash is currently the manager of the Rays. But in 2010, he was a member of the (still National League) Astros and hit one of his 12 career homers in Houston's 6-4 win over the Nats:

In 2009 and 2010, few National League pitchers were as consistently solid as Josh Johnson. The right-hander was a star for the Marlins, earning All-Star nods both seasons and earning Cy Young Award consideration in '10 after going 11-6 with a 2.30 ERA.
One of his dominant starts that year came on June 3, when he stymied the Brewers for seven innings in Florida in the Marlins' 3-2 win:

The Tigers doubled-up the Indians with a 12-6 win at Comerica Park, with 5 RBIs coming courtesy of Magglio Ordonez. After his three-run homer extended Detroit's lead to 11-6, Miguel Cabrera followed it up with a solo shot of the "almost-one-handed-I-can't-believe-he-hit-it-that-far" variety. 

Lineups throughout baseball looked a bit different that day, too. Take, for instance, the Dodgers team that lost to the Braves, 4-3, at Dodger Stadium: 
Rafael Furcal SS
Matt Kemp CF
Andre Ethier RF
Manny Ramirez LF
James Loney 1B
Russell Martin C
Blake DeWitt 2B
Jamey Carroll 3B
Hiroki Kuroda P
Or this Angels team that beat the Royals, 5-4, at Kauffman Stadium: 
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Mike Napoli C
Mike Ryan 1B
Kevin Frandsen 3B
Reggie Willits LF
You get the point. It's been a while. 
It'll feel pretty weird the next time he isn't out there on the court for the NBA Finals.

Nellie
Cat
Nats
Chavis