Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are considered two of the greatest players of all-time, but unfortunately, they never faced each other in the NBA Finals. There was an opportunity during the 2008-09 NBA season, but James could not get past Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In their final matchup against each other, the two superstars put on a show and combined for 50 points. While Bryant showcased his footwork, James had some spectacular dunks at the Staples Center.
Following the 120-108 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bryant was asked about not playing James in the Finals, via Bob Garcia of Sports Out West:
Kobe Bryant on not playing LeBron James ln the Finals: "It doesn't matter to me but I'm disappointed for the fans." #lakers
— Bob Garcia IV (@bgarciaivsports) March 11, 2016
As Bryant mentioned, it is disappointing for basketball fans around the world. With all the comparisons throughout their careers, playing in the Finals would have established a true rivalry and sparked an interesting debate.
Although the media has tried to create a rivalry between the two superstars, there is a mutual respect that was established during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. After Team USA only won the bronze medal in 2004, Bryant and James were part of the Redeem Team that helped them win back-to-back gold medals.
As James looks to make another Finals appearance, Bryant is enjoying his farewell tour and helping the young core’s development. Despite his shoulder injury, there are only 16 games remaining in Bryant’s career and he will try to play every game possible despite his shoulder injury.