The dream matchup basketball fans have been salivating for between the two greatest players in the decade will finally come to fruition.
Thanks to Dwight Howard, fans should be ready to finally see Kobe versus LeBron, mano-a-mano in the NBA Finals to decide once and for all who is a better player.
In 2009, when Nike decided to run their puppets promotion to ultimately having Bryant & James play in the finals, their plans went south. That season, Bryant led his Lakers to the 2009 NBA Finals. Whereas James was upset in the Eastern Conference Finals to Dwight Howard and Orlando Magic. In the 2011 NBA postseason alone, Howard averaged 27.0 points, 15.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game..
Howard would eventually lose to the Lakers in five games during the finals while Bryant won his fifth ring, and placed himself one more ring away from chasing Michael Jordan's legacy.
Now, because of a grand blockbuster trade for Dwight Howard, Bryant may finally get his sixth ring and maybe even more.
The details of the blockbuster trade are as followed.
The Lakers got Dwight Howard. The Denver Nuggets received 76ers Andre Iguodala. The Philadelphia 76'ers got Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers and Jason Richardson from Orlando Magic. As for the Orlando Magic, they gained Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from the Denver Nuggets, and Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless from Philadelphia 76ers. In addition the Magic will gain lottery protected first-round picks from each of the teams involved.
The big winner in the trade was the Lakers.
Not only managing to get Howard on their roster, but keeping their prized seven-foot big man in Pau Gasol. Currently for the Spanish National team, Gasol is averaging 20.6 points a game and is leading the 2012 Olympics in scoring.
With all apologies to the reigning Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers are now the team to beat in the Western Conference.
The Lakers offseason has been nothing short of amazing.
Bringing in a two-time Most Valuable Player Steve Nash, and a consistent scorer and former NBA All-Star in Antawn Jamison off of the bench only adds depth to their team.
But the magnitude of Dwight Howard is transcendent in the NBA.
In a league where having an All-Star Center is rarity, Dwight Howard is a walking double-double. After being selected as the overall selection in the 2004 NBA Draft, Howard has averaged a double-double in all of his eight NBA seasons.
Furthermore, in half of the years in Howard’s career, he has averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, something that the great former Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal has done 10 times in his career. At only 26 years old, Howard has a chance to even eclipse O'Neal in this category.
Now that the Lakers have brought in Howard, who is the only player in NBA history to win three straight Defensive Player of the Year Awards, the Lakers will have an even stronger defensive identity.
The fact that the strongest aspect of Dwight Howard’s game is on the defensive side of the basketball fits the Los Angeles Lakers more cohesively. Head coach Mike Brown hangs his hat on the defensive side of the basketball.
Possessing a player that has the impact ability that LeBron James has will cause nightmares for opponents. Due to Howard's all-world defensive ability, teams such as the Miami Heat, who make a living scoring points in the paint and getting to the free throw line, will have difficultly doing so.
During postseason play, where getting defensive stops is as important as scoring on the offensive end, Howard’s presence alone makes any franchise a contender. Dwight Howard’s ability to not only block shots, but change shots that his opponents take during games, helps create an interior defense that is impenetrable.
As for the offensive side of the basketball, with a team that has an aging backcourt featuring Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, interior presence is crucial.
Though Bryant finished second in scoring last season behind Kevin Durant, the Lakers have an interior presence on the offensive end as well.
Though Howard is still developing post moves and learning footwork in the paint, pairing Howard with Nash in a pick-and-roll situation could be deadly. With a super athletic Dwight Howard rolling to the paint, it will be a difficult matchup for any team to try and stop when Bryant will be left on the wing alone and Gasol at the high post.
Even though the Miami Heat have a "Big 3" on their roster, each member of the Los Angeles Lakers starting five has made the All Star team in their career.
LeBron James might have taken his talents to South Beach, but his kryptonite resides in Los Angeles.
Nike is going to need more puppet commercials for the 2012 NBA season as soon as possible.