Ever since their domination of the league during the 2000s, basketball fans everywhere have dreamed of a hypothetical scenario where Kobe Bryant and LeBron James would meet in the NBA Finals.
To the dismay of many, such a legendary matchup will never come to fruition. However, there were plenty of opportunities along the way for one to take place.
From 2005-13, both superstars advanced to the playoffs each year. James, however, could not lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA Finals appearance when Bryant propelled the Lakers to three consecutive from 2008-10.
James then departed for the Miami Heat in 2010 and advanced to four straight NBA Finals while Bryant and the Lakers suffered multiple early playoff exits during the start of the decade.
In a recent Q&A session on Twitter, Kyle Kuzma revealed that his dream NBA Finals matchup would be the 2008-09 Lakers taking on the 2012-13 Heat, for the sole purpose of a Bryant and James matchup:
2009 lakers vs 2013 Miami heat just because we all deserved a Kobe vs lbj finals https://t.co/3e95ue6aZM
— kuz (@kylekuzma) May 13, 2018
While both teams advanced to the playoffs in 2013, there was a significant imbalance between the Heat and Lakers that season. For one, the Heat cruised to the NBA’s best record while the Lakers barely snuck into the postseason as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
That being said, the 2008-09 NBA season presented a more realistic opportunity for a Bryant and James showdown in the Finals. But one never occurred, as the Cavaliers were ultimately eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Orlando Magic — robbing basketball fans everywhere of the dream matchup.
The Lakers, of course, went on to capture their 15th NBA championship in franchise history over the Magic in five games. Bryant earned NBA Finals MVP honors for the first time in his career, averaging 32.4 points in the series.
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