LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers playing against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals seemed inevitable in 2009, when both teams appeared on a collision course with the best records in their respective conferences.
James and the Cavaliers fell short, however, as they were eliminated by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. The 2010 Finals seemed to be the stage the much-hyped matchup would finally take place, especially when both teams again had the best records in the East and West.
But still, history repeated itself, with James and the Cavaliers falling to the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals. Meanwhile, Bryant and the Lakers waltzed to the Finals and got revenge on their longtime rival.
When the Lakers fell short in 2011, the dream was dead. The showdown between the league’s two biggest stars that seemed like such a certainty that Nike made an entire set of commercials centered on bickering puppet versions of James and Bryant was never going to happen.
It turns out James is as disappointed about that as anyone, and he made clear in an Instagram comment captured by Bleacher Report that he regrets letting basketball fans down:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 2, 2018
Bryant and James going against each other in the Finals would have been a legendary, titanic clash of future Hall-of-Famers for the ages.
And while the two didn’t play the same position, you can bet they would have guarded each other a fair amount and that the result of the matchups would have been bandied about as conclusive evidence of which player was superior.
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