Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Kobe vs. LeBron: What Could Have Been

By: Artem Altman

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What does the commish and all of the head honchos do now that the dream bubble that was Kobe & LeBron NBA Finals match-up has been burst by the pesky Orland Magic?

What happens now to with David Stern, the NBA and execs at ESPN, Nike, now that the envisioned duel between the “Black Mamba” and “King Kames” won’t happen? This was lauded as almost a sequel to the ‘Magic vs. Bird’ match-up that revitalized the NBA in early 80’s, now Kobe and LeBron were destined to blast the league into the stratosphere. With LeBron out, that simply won’t happen.

In my opinion, the Cavs wouldn’t have been a worthy opponent for the Lakers. Cavs were not even close to giving the Lakers their moneys worth. Yes, LeBron guarding Kobe would’ve been a great thing to see, but could the other match-ups make Cavs-Lakers an interesting series? I think not.

Pau Gasol is a nightmare match-up for any frontcourt player. Considering that he would be playing against Zydrunas Ilgauska and Anderson Varej√£o, what are their chances? Lamar Odom might not have showed up for every game, but what would Cavs do when he did? Unlike the regular season, playoffs are a whole different kind of game.

What is the next step? What happens to the “Most Valuable Puppets”? Will Nike and Adidas team-up for a Kobe & Dwight puppets commercial? I don’t think so. This is just another example of what an overzealous commercial machine will do when it wants to squeeze out every possible dollar.

When you think about it, the whole puppet deal was a bad omen for the LeBron and the rest of the LeBrons (Cavaliers). Nike was trying to do the same thing that it did with “Lil’ Penny” for Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway back in mid 90’s. And how did it work out for Hardaway and the Orlando Magic? Swept in the finals by Houston Rockets! It seems to me that Nike’s whole puppet gimmick is comparable to the Madden Curse. The next time Nike decides to do this for any of its athletes, I strongly suggest that they run... and run fast.

LeBron James has Nike to blame for putting a hex on his chance to solidify gigantious stature as an NBA great. Remember what happened to Magic and Bird when the played against one another in virtually every other finals match-up in the 80’s? I guess LeBron will have to wait at least until the next year. What kind of legacy would Kobe and LeBron leave if they played against each other in at least a couple of finals?

If LeBron gets back to play for a championship (which I don’t doubt he will), will there be an appealing match-up waiting for him in the finals?

I’m not bashing LeBron’s supporting cast (or am I?), but can LeBron really carry the Cavs all by himself? If we are going to compare LeBron to Michael Jordan, Jordan never went anywhere until he had Scottie Pippen. Who is LeBron’s Scottie? Wally Szczerbiak? Delonte West? No offense (Cavs should be forced to switch to alternative jerseys that say No offense when LeBron is not on the court).

As or right now, Kobe Bryant is holding a big lead over LeBron in the Jordanesque department. This is despite all of the accolades that LeBron already achieve. Kobe has 3 championship rings (you might have noticed from the ‘Most Valuable Puppet’ spot). What does LeBron have? A trip to the NBA finals that ended in a sweep.

We could also go into whether or not Kobe would have won any rings without Shaq, but the case is the same if we question whether or not Shaq would have won any without Kobe. He didn’t win any with Hardaway, but I guess Shaq has the “Nike Puppet Curse” to thank for that.

Come to think of it, history of the NBA would have been very different if Magic had indeed beat Rocket in 1995 for the title. Maybe Shaq wouldn’t have left a season later. Would the Bulls win their 3 championship if Shaq had stayed in Orlando? Would Kobe wind up in LA? Maybe he’d be playing for the Hornets?

What we have to ponder here are the possibilities. Such as whether or not LeBron will ever win a championship in Cleveland? Possibly. However, with the 2010 looming on the horizon, who is to say that LeBron will not decide to test the free-agent waters? He has already expressed interest for New York City. Who is to say that he will not come to play for his buddy Jay-Z when the New Jersey Nets finalize their move to Brooklyn?

Cavaliers have been trying mightily to please their King, but honestly, is even LeBron James, Ohio’s son, loyal enough to stick around in Cleveland with the booming lights of New York shining and calling out for him? If LeBron ends up leaving Cleveland, then Kobe will have another notch over LeBron. Not for anything that he did on the court, but off it. A notch for something that you don’t see in sports nowadays, something that is called loyalty.


Nick Gelso said...

Great Article!