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We need a season because it’s now or never for Kobe v. LeBron

Sep 3, 2011, 1:30 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

It was supposed to be 2009. Whoops, thanks Orlando and your ridiculously hot shooting. Then it was supposed to be 2010. Whoops, Boston strikes again. Then, no, seriously, surely it has to be 2011, we don’t even have the rest of the Cavs to blame it on. Whoops, Dallas denied. And now we’re on the verge of losing our last chance, the last good opportunity we’ll have. There will be a million reasons why losing the entire 2011-2012 season to the lockout would be a crushing disappointment for everyone who cares about the NBA. And inside that million reasons is this.

It’s our last chance for Kobe vs. LeBron in the Finals.

Don’t get me wrong. The stories told in each of those seasons was more than worthy, especially last year’s vindication of the Mark Cuban tactical approach. The Mavericks were worthy champions, Dirk a phenomenal champion, the storybook ending both different and fascinating at the same time. But we need this. We’re not going to have another chance, not with Kobe at anything worth comparing.

The thing is, many will say it’s irrelevant for one reason or another. Kobe’s too old. LeBron would just fail in the clutch again, anyway. The Heat’s super-team makes it illegitimate as a match-up. But there are factors to consider here. For starter’s, Kobe Bryant is coming off the most rest he will have had in four seasons. He’s had time to rest, have surgery, recover, condition, improve (if that’s possible) and get his legs back. He’s going to be his voracious self, only even more motivated to get back on top. If anyone can have a bounce-back season at 33, it’s Bryant. James’ failures have not come at the hands of the Lakers, not for many years. His recent Cavaliers and Heat teams have dominated Bryant. Bryant won both matchups against the Cavs in 2009, and in the four meetings since, the King has topped the champ. James is 10-5 all-time versus Bryant, which is a pretty good record against the best player in the league over the past ten years.

And for all the Heat’s talent, the Lakers feature just as much if not more, though everyone conveniently overlooks Lamar Odom and Ron Artest playing for significantly under market value. The Heat have more star power, the Lakers have more depth and a better overall team.

A Finals contest between the two would settle an age-old debate. Just kidding, it would solve nothing. But it would make for fantastic television, and provide an even better addition to the narrative of both’s careers. James would have a chance to finally become a champion by beating the five-time champion. Bryant would have a chance to tie Jordan for rings by toppling the supposed best player in the world. Live chats, message boards and comment sections would feature enough vitriol from both sides of the debate to bring Vigo from “Ghostbusters II” back to life. It would be a river of bile and it would be incredibly fun to watch.

The two have been linked for the past half-decade, a forced commercial string jinxing their inevitable conflict into oblivion. Yes, the NBA has its fair share of terrible, forced storylines and overblown hype machines. But this one would be worth the price of admission. The two best basketball players over the past four years, with one having represented their conference in the Finals in each of the past five seasons. This needs to happen, before it’s too late. So please, owners, players, if you won’t do it for the fans, will you at least do it for Nike? Poor, unloved, under-profiting Nike?

  1. chargerdillon - Sep 3, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    There is no Lebron vs Kobe, it never will be, it’s a hype machine that doesnt exist. Unless we get 5 championships in a row with the Lakers vs Heat, there is not a rivalry between the two.

    Here’s the sweet science KOBE HAS DONE EVERYTHING, won gold medals, won back to back to back championships, been an mvp.

    The only battle that still exists is Lebron vs Lebron. Everybody knows Lebron is the supreme youth and talent in the NBA, the problem is…..LEBRON! He mentally destroys himself every time the pressure is on.

    How dare anybody think Lebron is in Kobe’s class. Until Lebron can get himself over the hump, he has no business being in the ring with Kobe.

  2. goforthanddie - Sep 3, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    “The Heat’s super-team makes it illegitimate as a match-up.”

    Pardon me for saying, but that’s pretty damn stupid, considering the “super team” has already flopped once. And isn’t even a team-Wade and Bosh need some help.

    • david8726 - Sep 3, 2011 at 6:45 PM

      Getting to the NBA finals isn’t a “flop.” That’s an amazing season by any measure, especially when you consider that it was their first year together.

      • goforthanddie - Sep 3, 2011 at 7:02 PM

        When you act like they did, anything less than multiple titles is a flop. That’s what they promised. That’s what they flopped on delivering.

      • david8726 - Sep 3, 2011 at 9:24 PM

        They said some over the top thing during a PEP RALLY in MAIMI for Miami’s fans. Of course they made crazy promises. There was a giant crowd in front of them cheering them and they were excited.

        If you want to still hold that against them, whatever.

        But by any reasonable standard, getting to the finals is no flop.

      • paulyshore1 - Sep 9, 2011 at 8:37 AM

        goforthanddie – Sep 3, 2011 at 7:02 PM

        When you act like they did, anything less than multiple titles is a flop. That’s what they promised. That’s what they flopped on delivering.
        ————————————————————————————————————–

        Tell me that in 7-8 years.

    • asuthyo - Sep 3, 2011 at 9:43 PM

      “When you act like they did, anything less than multiple titles is a flop. That’s what they promised. That’s what they flopped on delivering.”

      I didn’t realize that a team could win multiple titles in one season. If i’m not mistaken, they can still win multiple titles so your idea of a “flop” hasn’t happened yet.

      • goforthanddie - Sep 4, 2011 at 6:06 PM

        “Multiple” starts with “one”. How many have they won? Thought so.

      • asuthyo - Sep 4, 2011 at 10:33 PM

        Wait…your telling me that in order to have more than one (meaning multiple) you have to start with one? I’m so confused.

        How many seasons have they been together? “One” (not sure why we are quoting this). Which means that the possibility for them to have multiple championships is impossible therefore your definition of a “flop” for them hasn’t even had a chance to come true. I don’t understand why it is so difficult to figure out that they have played for ONE season together and will be together for at least 3 or 4 more most likely. Until they don’t play together anymore no one can really say that they have flopped.

  3. ljl2 - Sep 3, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    quit bringing up the cavs. Lebron didn’t win 60 games back to back by himself and they weren’t the ones who quit in a winnable playoff game or gave up on his team both in the playoffs and after. remember, that was the team everybody called the deepest in the league. so while you may accept lebron’s revisionist history, facts oppose it. nobody around here cares about lebron leaving at this point, we just care about people ignoring the facts of what really happened and blaming the rest of the team. it ignores everything about what happened before and after in efforts to legitmize. just stick to facts.

    • david8726 - Sep 3, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      The only “revisionist history” happening is people who are actually trying to say that LeBron’s teammates weren’t the problem in cleveland.

      There wasn’t one other all star on those cavs teams. Shaq and Mo Williams don’t count. Shaq was over the hill and everyone knows it was a joke when Williams got voted into the all star game by the coaches one year.

      As soon as Bron left, the team collapsed.

      • ljl2 - Sep 3, 2011 at 7:43 PM

        half the team signed with champion condensers once lebron left. sounds like people in the NBA though thy were pretty good. just because people are overlooked just by being in Cleveland doesn’t meanthey arent quality players.

      • david8726 - Sep 3, 2011 at 9:25 PM

        The point is there were no other all stars next to LeBron in cleveland.

        Go try to find me one example of a team winning the NBA title that had only one all star.

        You can’t, because it’s never happened before. Every NBA title team in history has had multiple players who have made all star teams on it. Usually NBA title teams have two or more hall of famers.

        LeBron was never going to win with that supporting cast.

      • david8726 - Sep 3, 2011 at 9:34 PM

        By the way – Concerning the Cleveland players who left for other teams……

        Shaq went to the celtics, but he basically did nothing for them. Illgauskas went to Miami, but he was so bad that he got phased out of the rotation in the playoffs. Danny Green went to the spurs and only played eight games. Leon Powe played 16 games for Memphis.

        The only player on the Cavaliers roster who left Cleveland and then did something relevant in 2011 was Delonte West. He went to Boston and was very good.

        So the argument that Cleveland was bad in 2011 because they lost too many other good players to other teams doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

        LeBron and Delonte were the only GOOD players that Cleveland lost. That should tell you that the loss of LeBron was by far the biggest reason for Cleveland’s failure this season.

  4. ghelton03 - Sep 3, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    The matchup could be hyped as the battle of “the once was” vs. “the never was”.

  5. damko12 - Sep 3, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Lebron clearly traveled

  6. denverdude7 - Sep 4, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Bron-Bron is only an all-star on the “It’s All About Me” team. He is not even close to being in the same class as Kobe Bryant.

    Kobe Bryant never sold himself out as a second fiddle to ease his path to a championship. He may have threatened it, but he never did it. Instead, he took it upon himself to raise his game and find ways to improve those around him.

    Bron-Bron on the other hand, chose to punk out. He chose to put himself and his ego ahead of the game itself. By delaying his announcement that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach” he assured that Cleveland could not compete in free agency and guaranteed them a horrible season and crippling a franchise. All for the sake of self promotion.

    That, to me, that is the definition of a punk.

  7. diablito0402 - Sep 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    I dont want to hear that its the heats first year togegher crap, when your get world class talent and lebron to complement them, it should only take a few games or weeks to gel. They looked pretty dominant against the celtics, sorry, thats all they got.

  8. ndirishfan1 - Sep 4, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Does this article imply that Kobe only has one good year left? Really?

  9. ndirishfan1 - Sep 4, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Does this article imply that Kobe only has one good year left? Really?

    • passerby23 - Sep 4, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      The Lakers are old, their championship window is closing. I think it’s safe to say they have one good year left to compete with the core that they have. Kobe has a lot of injuries and miles on his body. Age catches up fast with shooting guards. I personally think Kobe has 2-3 good years left in him.

    • goforthanddie - Sep 4, 2011 at 6:09 PM

      He doesn’t have many left, even the blind can see that.

      • ndirishfan1 - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        The article implies he only has one… that’s the subject of my post

  10. thetooloftools - Sep 4, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    Kobe vs LeBron.
    Please.
    This cannot be discussed on ANY serious level.
    One has played for the same team throughout his career and worked though issues and problems only to take the Championship title as WORLD CHAMPIONS 5 TIMES!
    While the other guy walked away from his hometown team who LOVED him, crying and making excuses and predicting greatness (AGAIN).
    One guy is a “stone cold heartless killa” while the other has proven he has NO TEAM HEART AT ALL.
    Please refrain from LeBron / Kobe references.
    She doesn’t even compare to him.

    • david8726 - Sep 4, 2011 at 5:00 PM

      Hey look – It’s another blogger who wants us to forget that Kobe was demanding a trade to Chicago until the Lakers stole Pau Gasol from memphis, stacking the deck in Kobe’s favor.

      Kobe has had the luxury of playing with Shaq in his prime for 6 years, and now he’s spent the last 4 years with Gasol and Bynum. That’s TEN YEARS of Kobe’s career where he’s had elite teammates to help him win championships.

      LeBron has been on a team with elite teammates for only one year.

      It’s far too early to tell how LeBrons career will turn out. Kobe has had elite help for 9 more years than LeBron, so of course he has all the titles.

      No one should be shocked if LeBron manages to win a few before all is said and done now that he has help like Kobe has had for his entire career.

      • kast2l - Sep 5, 2011 at 1:41 AM

        everyone one of your posts has been spot on… don’t really understand all the thumbs down

      • southbeachtalent - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Way to fight the good fight David. Word of advice, facts and common sense are frowned upon on this blog.

        According to the posters on this site, LeBron is horrible, just plain horrible. He is the reason why the Cavs didn’t win (never mind their a lottery team without him). And the Heat are just horrible, maybe the biggest failure in the history of the game. Forget about them coming two games from the championship, those are facts no room for anything like that on here.

        This is how he stacks up:

        1.Hitler
        1(a). LeBron
        2. Disaeses

        Oh yea almost forgot, LeChoke is a choker and has a vagina.

  11. josh928 - Sep 4, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    @david8726…thank u. Valid points backed up by facts. Not just someone sayin “Lebron sux he can’t win a championship” or makin a stupid remark where u call him a she. HAHA good one bro…anyways….way to shut them haters off props to ya

  12. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 4, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    “For starter’s, Kobe Bryant is coming off the most rest he will have had in four seasons”

    Um, wouldn’t taking the 2011 season mean he would have 1 year AND 4 months off? Meaning much more rest? Geeze what a stupid concept. If there is no 2011, Kobe vs LeBron would have a BETTER chance of happening with all that extra rest wouldn’t it? Duh.

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