It's been a running joke since LeBron James announced he's signing with the Los Angeles Lakers that the Eastern Conference can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing the King is no longer impeding the path to The Finals.
There's likely a large contingent glad to see James make the transition out of the conference for the first time in his career. But that doesn't include Jaylen Brown, whose Boston Celtics had James' Cleveland Cavaliers on the ropes in the 2018 Eastern Conference finals.
"To be honest, I wanted him to stay. I was kind of mad. I wanted to be the team to go through him. I feel like we could have had it last year, but we fell a little bit short," said Brown on Tuesday, according to MassLive.com's Fred Katz.
A Celtics roster missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward rode the likes of Brown, rookie Jayson Tatum, backup guard Terry Rozier, and veteran Al Horford to series wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers prior to squaring off with Cleveland.
Boston held a 3-2 series lead before bowing out with losses in Games 6 and 7.
"I don't like when people say now that LeBron is gone you're the favorite. That irks me. We felt like whatever he was there or wasn't there, we were coming out (of the East)," added Brown, according to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn.
Barring some dramatic changes to Cleveland's roster, a healthy Celtics squad likely would have been heavily favored to end James' eight-year Finals streak in 2018-19.