With LeBron getting drafted into the league in 2003, basketball fans have since craved an NBA Finals meeting between Kobe Bryant and King James. While we have been close to seeing this happen in the past few years, this year looks as promising as ever.
Steve Nash will now wear the purple and gold in an attempt to finally win a championship along with his two MVP's. Not only is he one of the best players of the last decade, but the 38-year-old still has plenty of game left.
However, will the flashy passer ever be able to mesh with the ball-dominating Bryant?
Los Angeles will likely need time throughout the season to mesh together, so don't over analyze the first few glimpses we witness. The Lakers still have a lot of room to make some moves and bring in new talent, so don't be surprised to constantly see their name in various trade scenarios.
As is, this is a team that has the tools necessary to make a trip back to the NBA Finals. Bryant is one of the most achieved players to grace the court since the retirement of Michael Jordan, and brings along two towers in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
These three have won titles together before, but the window for this current team is closing faster every year.
The biggest disadvantage for the Miami Heat would obviously be size. While Chris Bosh has played his fair share of strong games against the Lakers, he would not be enough to stop the evolving Andrew Bynum in the paint. Bynum would likely put up some big numbers, but that doesn't go for everyone else.
Pau is coming off a down year where he stayed in Los Angeles after a botched Chris Paul trade. Whether he stays or goes is questionable at this point, but the Lakers do need him to be at full force to contend for a championship.
The most important factor for this potential championship team will be the chemistry between Kobe and Nash. The veteran point guard will do wonders with the progression of Bynum, but in turn could limit the effectiveness of Bryant. Kobe is one of the best scorers in the game's long history, but he is not an excellent off-ball player.
Alongside these four dangerous players, the Lakers bring a sub-par cast of supporting players. They do not have the depth to consistently keep up with Miami's fast paced offensive attack. The Lakers will try to slow the tempo down at all costs, but the Heat are known for putting on pressure to force turnovers and bad decisions.
LeBron James has figured out how to win now with this stellar Heat team. The signings of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis bring more dangerous options to spread the floor and open up lanes. While they will be vastly undersized in this match up, Miami is committed to the small ball approach.
Miami's success also relies on the health of superstar Dwyane Wade. After another surgery on his left knee, it's questionable as to how long he will have his quick step and elite athleticism. Wade is not a jump shooter, so his effectiveness would have to be questioned if not at full health.
Two different approaches and a ton of star power would only mean fireworks in a battle for a championship. While we could talk about what ifs all day, who would take this series with the current rosters?
I'll go with Miami. They have the depth and ability to spread the floor, along with the best player in the NBA in his prime.
James and Wade should continuously attack Bynum inside with hope of putting the big man in foul trouble. This is the area where the duo thrives and could result in showing the true shallowness of the Los Angeles bench.
When it comes to Bosh, he should be expected to dominate the mid-range game. He has a deadly shot for a near seven-footer, and has the ability to work his way past a slower, less agile Gasol.
Miami is deep with other scoring threats, as well as some crucial defenders. Mario Chalmers stepped up in a big way last season, helping the Heat through the playoffs when needed most. Shane Battier caught fire late in the season and had a remarkable performance in five games against the Oklahoma City Thunder. With the physical play of Udonis Haslem, the hustle of Norris Cole and the sharp shooting of Mike Miller, this team has a lot of tools that mesh well together.
However, if we do see this Los Angeles team mesh well together, it wouldn't be shocking to see Miami ousted in the playoffs. Neither team has an easy path to the big dance, but should it happen this is poised to be an epic series.
Will Nash be enough to get the Lakers back into the mix of things?
That is yet to be seen, but should have Miami on notice for a potential matchup in the NBA Finals.