Born to Sixers’ forward Joe Bryant and his wife Pamella, Kobe Bryant was privileged from birth. Kobe idolized and gained invaluable basketball knowledge from the mentorship from his father.
LeBron James never even knew his.
LeBron was raised by his mother Gloria, who battled daily to shield LeBron from the impact of the poverty and rampant drug use in their community.
Through hard work and determination, Kobe and LeBron both sit atop the rest of the NBA’s elites, but in the absence of a decisive matchup, the world has been forced to wonder which of the two is greatest. Ironically, their stories are mirrored by their respective teams.
Through the decades, the Lakers have forged dynasty after dynasty and cemented their place among the most significant franchises in the history of American sports.
The Cavaliers’ history can only be characterized by their longstanding hardship and failure. Prior to 2007, the team had never even reached the NBA Finals.
Their most historically significant moments came in the early 90’s, serving as steppingstones for Michael Jordan’s legacy.
Today, both the Lakers and the Cavaliers sit atop their respective conferences for the second consecutive season, but this season offers a very different feel from the last.
Last year, the Lakers obliterated the Cavaliers in both outings. Once, in a 105-88 laugher and the second time in a not-as-close-as-it-seemed 101-91 road victory with a flu-ridden Kobe Bryant and without budding center Andrew Bynum.
This season, LeBron James led his team to decisive victories over the Lakers both times and due to his spectacular play, the Cavaliers already have the NBA’s number one overall seed signed, sealed and delivered in their favor.
Though there is little doubt that Kobe plays with a more talented cast, LeBron has managed to draw more production out of his team.
Perhaps this is because of Kobe’s well-documented nature of demanding excellence, as opposed to LeBron who inspires it. Regardless, both teams are widely expected to emerge from their conferences.
However, the fact that the Lakers and Cavaliers are the consensus top two units in the league does nothing to alleviate the fact that the media’s attempt to establish a rivalry between them is premature, false, manufactured, and has yet to bear any fruit.
The Lakers and Spurs built their rivalry by meeting in four consecutive post-seasons from 2000-01 to 2003-04.
The Bad Boy Pistons and Michael Jordan’s Bulls also created a rivalry by meeting in four consecutive post-seasons, three of them Eastern Conference Championships. The Lakers and Celtics cemented the NBA’s fiercest rivalry by meeting in the Finals 11 times.
The attempt to create a rivalry between the Lakers and Cavs is senseless as history itself has dictated that without post-season history, there can be no rivalry.
Even the once dormant Lakers/Celtics rivalry needed the 2008 Finals to be reestablished.
If and until the Lakers and Cavaliers meet in the Finals, the stronger of the two contrasting styles will finally be decided. Only then will the world have its answer.