Kobe vs. Lebron? This debate has raged on for years, no doubt leaving respective fans of each player with tired lungs. Who's the better player? I can't answer that, or rather, it's irrelevant at this point. Success for the individual is now completely associated with team achievement.
The NBA has long been a league about stats, but now, winning championships has become more centralized, especially for star players.
Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James and even Dwight Howard all left or will leave their original franchises for the chance to win that elusive ring. Also, the big markets they landed in sure didn't hurt their individual brands.
Rather than compare Mr. Bryant and Lebron James as individuals, it is far more efficient to analyze and contrast their respective teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. More specifically, I will focus on the positional battles that could make this potential finals matchup one for the ages.
Nash has the obvious advantage. The two-time MVP shouldn't have any trouble defending Chalmers, as his game revolves around the perimeter.
The tricky part is when the Heat forgo traditional positions in their attempts to space the floor for either Lebron James or Dwayne Wade.
If Dwayne Wade is playing at the point, this advantage will likely shift to the Heat. Wade has proven he can play the point in stretches, though 'Flash' would have trouble keeping up with Nash for a considerable amount of time.
For now, though, edge goes to the Lakers.
The battle of the best two-guards in the league today. The slight edge goes to Bryant, and that's purely because of durability.
In despite of Kobe Bryant's lengthy odometer, he has proven to be quite durable. Wade on the other hand, is quite suspect in the injury department.
His finals performance should be questioned as well. Some believed it was due to injury, while a few chalked it up as old age.
Who to believe? Not sure, but in the case of this battle, the Mamba wins out by a nose.
While World Peace has improved his play during the later stages of last season, he is not in the same stratosphere as the three-time MVP winner.
James finally got over that mental hump after winning his first championship last season. He was spectacular in the Heat's playoff series.
Winning a second championship will prove to be more difficult for Lebron James, as several contenders, such as the Lakers, have lined up to take his crown.
Call me crazy, but I would select Chris Bosh in this match up. In previous years, Gasol would take the cake, but after two straight disappointing playoffs, there's no way I can defend the Spaniard.
With Steve Nash's arrival, I fully expect Gasol to return to his old form. He may not prove dominant as in years past, but fans can at least expect an increased role.
Whether Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard suits up for the Lakers in 2012, the advantage will favor LA.
With Steve Nash in the fold, Dwight Howard is likely the better option, though teams can't go wrong with a budding center in Andrew Bynum.
Both players have maturity issues, but Howard does a good job of masking his on game day.
The slight edge goes Ray Allen and the Miami Heat. Both Allen and Rashard Lewis will prove valuable pieces in the long run but Shane Battier gives the Heat the edge.
Battier's ability to hit the long ball, plus his defensive capabilities, gives the Heat a versatile player coming off the pine. He's unselfish and should prove useful in defending either Kobe Bryant or new Laker, Antawn Jamison.
Jamison was a solid first step for the Lakers, but more pieces need to be added for this advantage to shift.
In a seven game series, Miami would likely prevail, but it will be close.
Chemistry issues for the Lakers, not the Heat, could be their downfall. If the Lakers were to acquire another piece or two for bench production, and add a unhappy big fella from Orlando, this is a downright scary team.
However, can the Lakers integrate a completely new offense and two huge pieces in Nash, and possibly Howard, in time for the playoffs? The answer is unclear but fans wouldn't want it any other way.
Why take away the excitement of trying to find out during the busting of a playoff run.