As Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks raised the Larry O'Brien trophy last season, another star (Nikola Jokic) in another small-market team (Denver Nuggets) was forced to watch on the sidelines, anticipating his turn.
And as Jokic continues another MVP-worthy campaign, he isn't afraid to share what his goals are going forward.
"All international players have some kind of connection," said Jokic. "[Giannis Antetokounmpo] is a great guy. I admire him. Do I want to do what he did, in Denver? Yes, I want to do it of course."
While a Championship this season looks unlikely for the Nuggets, a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. could be all they need to meet their goals.
Jokic, 26, has emerged as one of the NBA's best players. A 3x All-Star, 3x All-NBA player, and 1x MVP, his resume is already one of the most impressive in the league.
This season, Jokic is having to carry a Nuggets team without two of its top three players, and he has answered the call in almost every way, averaging 26.2 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game on 57.1% shooting.
"It's beyond stupid that we frame this as a two-man race," said Zach Lowe on the MVP race this year. "Nikola Jokic is averaging 26.5 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 58% shooting 66% on twos. Pick whatever advanced stat you want, he leads the NBA in every single one. He's on pace for the highest player efficiency rating ever. The Nuggets with Nikola Jokic on the floor: +14 per 100 possessions. With Nikola Jokic on the bench, -16. With Nikola Jokic on the floor, the Denver Nuggets are basically the best team ever, off the floor they're the worst team ever."
It remains to be seen if the Nuggets have what it takes to come out of the West. Even when/if they get healthy, the path to a Championship will not be an easy one.
But so long as they have Nikola Jokic, there's a chance they could mimic the Bucks and bring home a title to a small-market city.
No doubt, it's a scenario many fans wish to see play out.