We never got to see Kobe and LeBron compete against each other on highest stage. Their entire careers, divided by opposing conferences, Dwight or Dirk or Timmy or KG always seemed to spoil the match up we longed for most. Instead, we got regular season games, the closing minutes off All-Star Sunday, and them teaming up for Olympic Gold. These may not be the moments which create a true rivalry, but they are moments we will remember all the same.
Thursday night’s game between these two will be the same. In the last time these two players will share the court, they provided some classic moments, reminding us of what made them so great and why we longed so badly for a Finals series between their respective teams.
Kobe (26 points) & LeBron (24 points) combine for 50 in their final matchup! https://t.co/w9XtoBjO1o
— NBA (@NBA) March 11, 2016
Both players put on a show, but in their own ways at their respective stages of their careers.
While LeBron can still flash his amazing athleticism (that left handed finish off JR Smith’s off-the-backboard pass was incredible) to finish above the rim, Kobe used a more ground bound game based on footwork and fakes to get his points. Both are aesthetically pleasing and effective, but detail the differences in where these players are now. Differences that, in many ways, signify what made these players who they have been and what made them so great as individual talents to begin with.
I will miss these battles. The video above reminds of us these players’ greatness, but also of how fast the end is approaching. Kobe’s career has all of 16 games left and then it’s over. This makes moments like those from Thursday night that much more special to me. We simply do not have many, if any, performances like that left — especially when you consider the state of Kobe’s shoulder and the general physical difficulty he has even getting on the floor to play these days.
So, to see it one last time and for it to come against LeBron was special. Even though it came in a loss.