Anthony Davis and the Pelicans were an ascending team during the 14-15 season, reaching the playoffs before being swept by the Warriors.
"It feels like it's been 20 years," said Davis.
Since that run, there has been a new crop of future stars that have captured the imagination of NBA fans.
"I think about that all the time," Davis said. "I hear these TV shows and see social media. They say [Kristaps] Porzingis. They say Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Joel [Embiid]. And that's fine, I'll just play basketball.
"But it goes back to the winning thing, too, and well, what have they won? They're in the same boat as me. I just try to go out and play and not to worry much about it.
"... But it is personal. For sure, it's personal. When I play those games, they're talking about [Karl-Anthony] Towns, and they're talking about Porzingis and Giannis, and they're talking about me. Who is going to win this matchup? Who's going to win this game? I absolutely take it more personally."
Davis realizes that winning is what matters most in terms of how his career is defined.
"Winning. That's it. That's how you're judged," he said. "You can score, you can dominate. You can do whatever. But they calculate everything off winning. You know that. I know that. Everybody in the league knows that. I hear it all the time: 'Anthony is a good player, but he hasn't won anything. He's not a winner. He hasn't been to the playoffs in two years.'
"It bothers me. You know you're doing everything in your power to try and win. Playing through injuries, playing a ton of minutes, diving on the floor, but you just can't come up with enough wins to go to the playoffs. And it isn't enough just going to the playoffs. You want to make noise. You want to be a threat.
"People judge you. For DeMarcus and me, this is the time. The time is now."
Davis is in the second season of a five-year, $127 million contract that expires in 2021. Davis has been patient with the Pelicans and is comfortable with its market-size, but he also realizes they lack the depth and developing young talent to compete at a title level.
"You look at the Warriors, Cleveland, Boston," he said. "They lose Gordon [Hayward], they're still playing well. KD-Steph-Draymond-Klay. They play so well with each other. They move the basketball. They don't care who scores. Steph and Draymond are out, and they still won. KD is out. They still win.
"That's the way the league is now. I don't see anyone winning without three or four All-Stars. ... I was in the [MVP] conversation in my third year, and we didn't win. We went to the playoffs, got swept, and I dropped out of all that so fast. It's about winning. You can have all the numbers in the world, but you better win. That's what it is. This whole league, everything is about winning. Every award. Everything. It's all about winning."