It would be difficult to call it anything more for the teams that settled for the rest of the best during 2010 free agency.
While LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh play on for the Miami Heat, the consolation prizes from the July 2010 free-agency free-for-all hardly provided any consolation at all this past week.
Amar'e Stoudemire was fouling out of win-or-go-home Game 5 for the New York Knicks against the Heat, his left hand pieced together by mesh and staples.
Carlos Boozer was shooting 1 for 11 and watching from the bench at the finish as the Chicago Bulls' season slipped away against the Philadelphia 76ers.
And Joe Johnson, who somehow secured the largest contract of all that 2010 offseason, shot 7 of 17 with just two assists and one rebound as the Atlanta Hawks' season came to an end against the Boston Celtics.
It would be difficult to say otherwise, considering an argument could be made that Stoudemire, Boozer and Johnson now stand in the way of their teams taking the next step.
Stoudemire, whose knee issues left him with an uninsurable contract in 2010, simply does not fit with Carmelo Anthony, no matter what the two say otherwise. While a quality point guard might be able to repair that fracture, all the Knicks have left cap-wise are the funds to bring back Jeremy Lin.
Boozer, as has been the case the past two postseasons, has been reduced to late-game playoff spectator behind Taj Gibson, who outscored Boozer 14-3 in equivalent minutes in Thursday's season finale in Philadelphia.
As for Johnson, he hardly has the feel of a leading man in Atlanta, with Josh Smith desperately attempting to secure that role but the reality being that Al Horford is undeniably the most valuable Hawk.
For those who recall that whirlwind first week of 2010 free agency, teams were hedging their bets with Stoudemire and Boozer, with the Heat among the first to court Amare after making a run at him during that season's trading deadline.
Boozer, by contrast, was chasing the dollars from the teams that came up short on Bosh and Stoudemire, as soulless then as his finagled departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Johnson ultimately proved to be like Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay, Ray Allen and Luis Scola that summer, players who retreated to the comfort (and cash) of their incumbent teams.
The problem that summer, and even with the new collective-bargaining agreement, is that once you establish a maximum salary, everyone wants it, with no way to separate the best of the best -- the Kobes, LeBrons, Durants -- from the rest of the league's stars.
The lesson from this past week is that there are superstars, stars, players who fancy themselves as stars and then players fortunate enough to have cashed in in July 2010.
That's not to say the Heat nearly didn't get caught, as well, flying from their meetings with James, Wade and Bosh to Charlotte for a pitch to Brendan Haywood, who instead now appears to become the Dallas Mavericks' eventual amnesty option.
There also is talk of a Boozer amnesty in Chicago, although the remaining cash is way too significant. There might have been talk about an Amare amnesty in New York, had the Knicks not so hastily sacrificed that one-time option on Chauncey Billups this past preseason. And the Hawks, who seemingly always are for sale, likely will be sold before Johnson can be sold off.
For the Heat, July 2010 free agency was pricy, with the new CBA likely to exact a severe cost when it comes to personnel flexibility. And the luxury-tax bills could grow exorbitant.
But unlike with the Knicks, Bulls and Hawks, at least there is no buyers' remorse.
THE NOISE: To a degree, it's probably safe to assume that if Mike Baiamonte wasn't already in place for five years when Pat Riley arrived in 1995, the Heat likely would have gone in a different direction with their public-address announcer, something closer to the low-key approach Riley experienced during his Lakers days with Lawrence Tanter at the Forum. That said, the Heat did the right thing in going no further than an issuing of apology regarding Baiamonte saying Amare Stoudemire had been "extinguished" from Game 5, which actually was pretty funny. Say what you want about the NBA's over-the-top public-address approaches, but what the Heat offer still comes off as passe when considering the, well, Mickey Mouse approach at Orlando Magic home games.
MOVING ON: Quietly, amid the Heat's first-round success, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert met with Ohio media and acknowledged it's time to move on. Asked if there still were simmering feelings about LeBron James' 2010 free-agency departure, Gilbert said, "The truth of the matter is July 11, 2010, we started focusing on the future. You try to just look ahead. That's where we're at." It is a considerable change from his email screed that day in 2010, when he wrote, "I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA championship before the self-titled former 'king' wins one." Of James hinting in February that a Cavaliers return one day could be possible, Gilbert said, "Nothing in the NBA surprises me."
STILL YAPPING: The New York Knicks went into the first round against the Heat cocky; they exited after five games just as brash. That had Amare Stoudemire putting New York's trio of himself, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler on the same plane as the Heat's James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as well as the Thunder's Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, in addition to the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. "I think as players, with Carmelo and myself and Tyson as a foundation trio, you can't ask for a better lineup than that in the NBA," Stoudemire said during the Knicks' exit interviews. Coach Mike Woodson offered a similar theme. "We try to compare our top three to their Miami three," he said. "They've been together two years. They've experienced the Finals together. That speaks volumes. Let's give this team a chance in terms of being together."
REAL MAN: Then there's Chandler, who came off like Wade after the Heat's first-round elimination against the Boston Celtics in 2010, when he said he's not going out in the opening round again. "It's unacceptable to me," Chandler said. "I didn't come here to lose in the first round, and I don't plan on doing this in the future. I'll do everything I can to make this team better in the future." Chandler, with his flu and hand issue, wasn't great against the Heat, but you could see why you would want him as a franchise cornerstone. Amid the Carmelo and Amare drama, he's the real man in New York.