As the NBA Playoffs began, there has been one question that has sparked debate and virtually a divide between NBA fans around the world. Who’s better, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? With a daily onslaught of advertisements, funny commercials, and constant ESPN coverage, as the NBA Finals steadily approach there is no secret that everyone wants to see Kobe and LeBron go head to head in the NBA Finals. And hey why not? LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are arguably the best two players in the league and the most popular for that matter. Both have won MVP awards with Kobe winning in 08 and LeBron in 09. Now the two adversaries are vying for the coveted NBA championship, as Kobe still hasn’t proved he can win without Shaq and LeBron is out to prove he is indeed the best player in the NBA.
But the question here is, how much hype is too much? It is clear that the NBA as an organization wants to see this match up, and by all means needs it. Aside from the Boston and LA match up from a year ago, the NBA has seen a decrease in viewers in the past 5 years. So why not milk this highly publicized battle of two basketball icons to help revenues and ratings? Before all else, the NBA is strictly in the business of making money and Kobe versus LeBron is exactly what they need to spark the interest of fans once again. The NBA can’t lose; it’s a P.R gold mine. That is why the barrage of NBA commercials will continue until this prophecy is fulfilled.
Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with all the Kobe and LeBron talk, especially the two teams that they are facing currently. The Denver Nuggets or “Thuggets” as many call them and the Orlando Magic both feel disrespected in the matter. Many players from both sides have expressed their disgust in the love affair that no one can stop talking about. The Orlando Magic players say that they are tired of seeing all the LeBron “Chosen One” commercials and actually use it as motivation to play even harder. I personally love those LeBron puppet commercials they are hilarious! Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin may have said it best when he said “We’ve got a fight on our hands and the Cavs have a fight on their hands,” he said. “Everyone just thought us and Orlando were going to go down so they can play. But that ain’t going to happen. I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen. Go play NBA Live if you want to see that match-up.” While Martin does make a very valid point, nobody thinks that L.A and Cleveland are going to breeze on through to the Finals but after all they are the leagues best two teams. K-Mart is a very good player, but honestly, does anyone want to see a Kenyon Martin and Hedo Turkoglu match up in the Finals? I for one really don’t think so!
As of game 4 in the Eastern Conference Finals, all the built up hype has not favored LeBron and his Cavs as they find themselves trailing 3 games to 1 in their series against Orlando. While I do think the series is far from over, could it be that everyone prematurely crowned King James as the next best thing, without him winning anything? Has the NBA public been so blind and amazed by the one-man circus that we lost touch of the fundamentals it takes to win a championship? In this case, I really think so. With that being said, LeBron’s teammates have not helped him much against Orlando and we all know one man cannot do it by himself. It is for that reason, I am afraid we may not see him make the Finals, unless there is a big turnaround.
There is a lot of pressure on LeBron to deliver and it may be entirely too much. Kobe Bryant barely has as much pressure on him because he’s had 5 Finals appearances triumphing in 3. His resume speaks for itself. But, LeBron hasn’t won anything and he’s already been deemed the second coming of Mr. Michael Jordan. Let’s remember one thing, before Jordan was called the best of all time, he had to earn his stripes with killer instinct, an endless amount of clutch moments, and above all else 6 championships. Those are all intangibles that LeBron James has the potential to achieve but definitely hasn’t accomplished yet. But the future is clearly very bright for the 24-year-old James, seeing that Jordan did not win his first championship until he was 28 years old. But even as great as Jordan was, he always had help from a collective team of contributors. Whether it was Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, or Steve Kerr, somebody stepped up when Jordan needed help. The problem with the Cavaliers is they are really lacking a Scottie Pippen like talent that can assist LeBron in crunch time. Without that missing piece, it will be very hard for King James to win an NBA title.
Whether or not you love the Kobe and LeBron hype, or are completely sick of it, you must admit, there has not been this much excitement for a NBA Finals match up since the historic rivalry of Magic and Bird. But more importantly, lets not hand the crown to someone who has not completely earned it.