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The Greyhound

The Rivalry That Never Was

The Rivalry That Never Was

Photo courtesy of Michael Tipton via


Fun fact: 13 of the last 16 seasons in the NBA Finals have either featured Kobe or LeBron, the two most dominating players since each entered the league. Yet despite this amazing statistic, they never played against each other in the Finals. Because of that, it leads to a perfect setup for a debate in your local barbershop: “Who has the better career between the two? Who is the better overall player? Who would you rather have in the 4th quarter?” These questions and many more will forever be unanswered.

For example, would you rather have an athlete most similar to Michael Jordan in respect to form, footwork, and the killer mentality? Or would you rather have a 250-pound athletic freak of nature that has the ability to play any position on the court, with the vision of Magic Johnson, the basketball IQ of Larry Bird, and the power of a freight train? As these questions will remain opinionated, we should take a step back and acknowledge one chapter closing as well as one chapter that will still be written for years to come.

March 11 marked the last time Kobe and LeBron will play against each other in a regular season game. They have a combined: five MVPs, seven NBA titles 16 All-NBA team recognitions, and 20 All-Star appearances

I still find it upsetting they never played against each other in the post-season. The best chance these two would have played against each other would have been the 2009 NBA Finals, when LeBron was still in his first stint with Cleveland, who had the league’s best record. LeBron was reaching his prime and was going on a streak unmatched by anyone else in the league. He led his team to the conference finals against an up-and-coming Orlando Magic team lead by Dwight Howard. One of the most memorable moments in the series was when LeBron shot a buzzer beater in Cleveland to win Game 2 and tie the series. Despite losing this series to the Magic — who eventually lost to the Lakers in the Finals — LeBron’s shot was one of the defining moments of his career.

In the following 2009-2010 season, the Cavs lost to the Big Three (Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce) in Boston, who went on to beat the Lakers in the Finals. LeBron then decided to take his talents to South Beach. By that time, Kobe’s window of reaching the Finals tapered off, and these two would never get close enough to play against each other in the championships.

After the last matchup between the two powerhouses, in which LeBron has won 16 of the 22 games, Kobe stated, “It’s not a rivalry, I wouldn’t say because we like each other too much. I don’t like anybody that much.” He added, “”To me, rivalries are never made in the regular season, no matter how people try to hype it up. You got to duke it out for what really matters, so from that sense we never really had one.” I believe this statement to be true because of the fact that they never played in the postseason. If they consistently faced each other in the Finals, there would be some sort of rivalry between the two that would be hyped up by the NBA, similar to the rivalry we are starting to see between LeBron and Curry.

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The Rivalry That Never Was