Kobe Bryant the New Roger Federer, LeBron James the Next Rafael Nadal?

Tyler Lambert@@Tblamb2you2Senior Analyst IMay 27, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives the ball against LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the forth quarter at Staples Center on January 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

In the wake of both the French Open Tennis Championships and the NBA Conference Finals, questions have arisen about who the dominant team or player in each are.

Last season in the Wimbledon Tennis Championship Final, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal faced off in what would be one of the most epic tennis matches in history. Roger Federer was the five-time defending champion of the event and had faced Nadal in the final of the previous two title runs.

Roger was ranked No. 1 in the world at the time of the 2008 final, with Nadal not a too distant No. 2.

Roger Federer was nearing the end of a four-year span in which he dominated opponents and Grand Slams alike. The four-year span in which Federer dominated the tennis world is regarded as one of the most dominant four-year spans by an athlete in any given sport in history.

Nadal leaped on the now more vulnerable Federer in the first two sets of the final, winning each by a score of 6-4.

Up 2-0, Nadal raced out to an early lead in the third and was headed towards the finish line. However, Roger Federer would not cave into the demands of Nadal easily.

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After battling to a tiebreak, Federer used consistently punishing ground strokes to prevail and close the gap in the match to two sets to one down.

Nadal again raced out to an early lead in the fourth set, and again Roger Federer had the mental toughness to prevail in a very tough tiebreak that featured match points for Nadal. After winning the fourth, Federer leveled the match at 2-2 all.

Then it happened.

One of the most dramatic and pressure-packed sets in tennis history was about to make a mark on the careers of both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Back and forth, game after game, serve after serve, neither side willing to give the other an advantage. Tied 6-6, tied 7-7. Many people began wondering if the match would take all night to complete.

And then again the unexpected happened: The mighty Roger Federer was broken in the 15th game of the final set. Although at the time it didn't seem as if one service game would affect a person's career, this one hit the spot.

Federer stood on the receiving end of Nadal's powerful serve, defenseless.

Within a matter of minutes, Nadal lay triumphant on that grass court of Wimbledon. For the first time in his very young career, Nadal was now the newly appointed No. 1 in the world, dethroning Federer from the top spot.

Nadal was now considered the best tennis player in the world.

The Great Debate continues: Who is better? Kobe Bryant or LeBron James?

For the early part of the 2000s, Kobe Bryant was regarded as one of the best players in the world, helping lead the Los Angeles Lakers, alongside Shaq, to three straight NBA Championships.

At about that same time, LeBron James was attending high school, dreaming about the day that he too could play in the NBA and win titles.

2007-2008 marked one of the greatest seasons for Kobe Bryant while he has been in the NBA, and no it is not only because he won the NBA MVP. What really marked this season as special in the mind of Kobe was the fact that he led the Lakers back to dominance, and the NBA Finals.

Although the Lakers did lose a tough series to the Boston Celtics, they were now considered a team that was a force to be reckoned with.

Following last year's successful season, the Lakers easily won the Western Conference this year for the second straight year.

While the Lakers were continuing their success, the Eastern Conference showed the Cleveland Cavaliers overthrow the Boston Celtics as the dominant team to beat. The major reason for the Cavs new-found dominance was in large part due to LeBron James, the '08-'09 NBA MVP.

A capable triple-double threat on any given night, LeBron James led his team to the Eastern Conference title for the first time in years.

With the success of LeBron James this past season, it has caused a great debate over whether Kobe Bryant or LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world?

Both Kobe and LeBron have led their respective teams, the Lakers and the Cavaliers, to the finals in their conference. Each has risen his play over the past few weeks, with Kobe trying to outdo LeBron one night and then vice versa the next.

Since 2003, the last year the Los Angeles Lakers won a NBA Championship, Kobe Bryant has been regarded as the best basketball player on the planet.

However, with the recent success of LeBron James and his team-leading ability, has LeBron overthrown Kobe from the top spot much like Nadal overthrew Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final?

To some people he has, and still others believe that LeBron must win an NBA Title before he can be regarded as "The Best."

If the Cavaliers and the Lakers both met in the NBA Finals, and LeBron beat Kobe, would that be enough to take control of the top spot? Would beating Kobe in the finals be like Nadal defeating Federer on his most comfortable surface (grass) and be regarded as the world No. 1?

Only time can tell, but at the present time, Kobe has done nothing to banish his title as the world's best. Are Kobe and LeBron on a collision course to meet in the Finals? It is anyone's guess, but by the way things look, I do not believe so.

Conference Finals update:

Orlando Magic lead Cleveland Cavaliers: 3-1

Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets Tied: 2-2


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