It has been years since we have witnessed anything like that.
The 2011 NBA trading deadline turned into, well, the Lakers-Celtics of trading deadlines.
It was compelling, larger than life and, if you consider the failed Pacers-Grizzlies deal, went down to the buzzer.
It showed that the league, under the current system, works, that the best and brightest in front offices can thrive under the present guidelines, be it Portland staying afloat in the playoff race, Houston restocking by collecting draft picks, or Cleveland trying to claw its way back to relevance.
And yet, because of the very frenzy, it all might be about to change. We might never pass this way again. Hope you enjoyed it.
As the process was playing out, as Carmelo Anthony was taking the court at the Garden and Deron Williams was taking to the podium on the other side of the Hudson, a leading, influential agent said the very frenzy that lifted the league to a higher level of relevance these past few days could lead to dramatic change in the way the league does business going forward.
"You can't have this," he said. "You can't have five, six, seven teams, like New York and Miami and the Lakers and even the Nets controlling everything, and everyone else becoming their pawns."
He offered his comments in the hours after Dwight Howard lashed out at Magic teammates for lack of effort after a stunning home loss to the Kings.
"Did you hear him?" the agent said. "That was about more than one game. That was about sitting there and seeing Carmelo getting that reception in New York and hanging out with all those guys in L.A. (during All-Star Weekend).
"He's not staying there. He's going to the Lakers. It's bad there right now, in Orlando."
Howard, of course, will be next season's Carmelo, as he moves toward potential 2012 free agency, envious of bigger city, brighter lights.
And then the agent said something that, frankly, you wouldn't expect from anyone on the union side, especially amid these delicate deliberations for a new collective-bargaining agreement.
"We need to add the franchise tag," he said.
There was an audible pause. To some, that would be like the union's asking for a lower salary cap and smaller salaries.
Why would any agent, especially one who has represented several high-end players, want teams to have the right to designate a player being ineligible to invoke the free-agency right to play for the team of his choice in the city of his choice?
"Because you're going to see contraction, otherwise," he said. "Look at what happened to Cleveland when LeBron left, or Toronto without Bosh or even with Denver, or what Utah is having to answer for.
"If we want jobs for our players, places for them to play, then we need all these teams."
And that is where the 2011 NBA trade deadline has delivered us, not debating the merits of the Celtics swapping out Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green, or Paul Allen again infusing money into his product to acquire Gerald Wallace, but rather whether the Big Three dynamic that began last summer could wind up burying the league's lesser(-funded) half.
Understand, Thursday afternoon offered some of the most riveting theater the NBA has offered in years. If David Stern has any Paul Tagliabue in him, he moves future trade deadlines to prime time.
But it couldn't have been a good feeling sitting in places such as Charlotte, Indiana and Toronto, settling for scraps.
The featured attraction Thursday, indeed the league's prime-time attraction, was supposed to be Heat-Bulls at the United Center, LeBron-Wade-Bosh vs. Rose-Boozer-Noah. Yet even that was overwhelmed by the trade-wire traffic jam.
Before that game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, he of the bounty of riches that are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, was asked about the possible Armageddon angle to the process.
He wouldn't bite, instead invoking the championship legacy of the Spurs.
"How big is San Antonio? I can't remember," he said. "I think they're a small-market team.
"It still can be done, and I think if you ask the GMs and owners of those (small-market) teams, they're inspired now, as well, to stay competitive and find a way and get creative. It can be done. It's proven. And it's also proven that if you have a big market, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll have success."
To a degree, Sam Presti demonstrated as much with Oklahoma City's addition of Perkins, securing the needed beef to challenge the Lakers, Spurs and Mavericks during the postseason. That's the same Presti who has built through the draft, did not rush to spend every available penny during last summer's free-agency frenzy.
But for every successful Spurs operation, for every forward-thinking Presti, there are franchises who see a system that is turning the NBA into a league of haves and have-nots, mostly on a market-power basis.
Because the NBA provided such drama these past few days, because of what is left in the wake of Carmelo and Deron, the league may have no alternative but to offer a franchise-player option to teams in the upcoming collective-bargaining agreement.
That could leave Chris Paul and Howard among the biggest losers at this year's trading deadline, even though they had no direct role in the process.