Cleveland Cavaliers: Kobe and LeBron faced off for one final time on Thursday night, and they gave fans a fitting duel for the road
It was almost perfect for the fans of the purple and gold. The Black Mamba went right at King James all night, knocking down fadeaway jumpers in the face of the player once declared “The Chosen One.”
The meeting almost didn’t happen, Kobe Bryant was a game-time decision due to his sore rotator cuff that has kept him out of several games in recent weeks. It seemed foolish when the game began, as No. 24 put on a show for the Los Angeles crowd in the first half.
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One of the big keys to victory was the Cavs success beyond the arc as they made 16 threes compared to the Lakers seven.
For years, their “rivalry” was supposed to materialize in a Finals that never happened. In the several seasons that the Lakers and Cavaliers were in title contention, Kobe and LeBron just seemed to miss each other.
This season, James and Bryant have had nothing but praise for each other. When the two met for the final time in Cleveland, Bryant gifted James his game-worn sneakers with a signed personal message.
During this year’s All-Star Game, Bryant jumped for the opening tip and it was none other than James who went up against him.
As much as fans have wanted the two to be fierce rivals, they have instead shown a fierce camaraderie. Together they won two gold medals in the Olympics as part of Team USA. Their meetings in the regular season, where they often defended each other, were filled with banter and mutual respect.
Thursday night was a bitter-sweet finale. One team was always going to lose, but the knowledge that it was the last time two of the best players of a generation would face each other made things different.
The basketball world was left clamoring for one more game, one more meeting.
But instead, we must be glad that we got to enjoy the show for as long as we did.