Is this the year for Kobe-LeBron Finals?
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant.
NBA lovers have never seen that dream showdown in the NBA Finals.
The matchup that fans witnessed in the 1980s between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird might not ever be matched, if only because of the way it transcended the game. But Bryant, too often compared to Michael Jordan throughout his career, and James, pegged the Chosen One in the earlier stages of his career, facing each other for a championship would be an NBA Finals clash that would certainly skyrocket ratings.
“If we see that matchup, Kobe vs. LeBron, I think it would break all the records,” Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson told The Associated Press. “I think the viewership would be off the charts.”
Last week, we heard rumors that James might eventually end up joining the Los Angeles Lakers. All hogwash. There’s a better story line now.
It doesn’t seem like it’s been talked about in years, but it’s to basketball what the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight (that might not ever happen) is to boxing.
Now, after a 34-year old Bryant has been re-energized by the arrival of two-time MVP Steve Nash and Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, and after James has won his first NBA championship (and third MVP) and the Heat added key pieces to the roster including sharpshooter Ray Allen, it’s not just an NBA 2K fantasy.
James or Bryant has played in the last six NBA Finals.
This could be the year they meet in June.
Both teams have major title expectations, as the Heat are the defending champions and the Lakers, winless in the preseason, are being chalked up as the next superstar team. But it’s all preseason hype.
They used to be the two best players in the game (thanks Kevin Durant and overrated ESPN player rankings for changing that).
Nike spawned the greatest puppet commercials since Lil Penny featuring Bryant and James trash talking when it seemed almost inevitable that James and Bryant would meet in the Finals back in the late 2000s. Bryant was on his … [For more on Is this the year for Kobe-LeBron Finals?, click here.]