Although the two are legends on the court, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James never generated much of a rivalry. But for diehard basketball fans who fantasized about a rivalry for years, a glimpse into what could have been was provided last night during their final game against each other.
Thursday’s Los Angeles Lakers-Cleveland Cavaliers matchup played out more like an exhibition game than a tough regular season contest, with Bryant and James frequently stealing the show trying to one-up each other. Bryant led all Lakers in scoring with 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting; James ended the night with 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting for the Cavs.
For their final matchup, both players hit the court in some heat. Bryant played in a bold player’s edition colorway of his latest signature shoe, the Nike Kobe 11, boasting a gold and purple color palette inspired by the Lakers colors. James also wore a player’s edition of his latest signature shoe, the Nike LeBron 13, featuring a bright multicolored upper, black midsole and icy translucent outsole.
Although James and the Cavaliers defeated Bryant and the Lakers, 120-108, the final score didn’t seem to mean much. The two never met in the NBA Finals, and with Bryant in November announcing his retirement at season’s end and his Lakers sitting in last in the Western Conference, a championship meeting never will happen. But for one last time, fans witnessed a dream matchup between two NBA icons.