Since the 2010-2011 season Miami have got the better of the Lakers in three out of the four meetings by an average margin of 11.6 points. The only loss coming in the most recent battle at the Staples Center where Chris Bosh sat on the sideline injured and Kobe had a hand from Metta World Peace who produced one of his better games of the season having 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals.
Lebron has averaged 25.5 points, 10 rebounds and 8.5 assists in these four meeting with the Lakers. The sheer dominance of the worlds greatest basketball player in these matches have all but ended the debate over who was better out of Lebron and Kobe.
Lebron James move to Miami made him not only the most hated NBA player but no doubt the most watched aswell. Lebron took away what Kobe had for years. The Attention. As soon as the final buzzer sounded on Christmas morning at the Staples Center everyone turned to the scoreboard to see the first meeting between the reigning Champion Lakers and the Miami Big Three end with a 16 point drubbing as Miami left LA the victor. As Jack Nicholson left his courtside seat one thing was made certain. Lebron pushed the Lakers out of relevance. It was Lebron’s league to have and with the Oklahoma City Thunder making there way up, the Savy Spurs continuing there winning ways and the wild card Dallas Mavericks it was near impossible to imagine a world where the Lakers could even own the Western Conference.
Dallas went on to sweep the Lakers and talks of an inevitable end of the Kobe era started to begin. The Mavericks eventually challenged the Miami Machine in the finals and it was there that Lebron choked and Dallas claimed the Championship in 6 games.
That may have been a blessing in disguise for Kobe and his Lakers. The torture and humiliation that Lebron James and the rest of the Heat undertook that offseason made them hungrier than ever to take over the league and reach that championship goal.
The Heat went into their season and with many question marks over their Point Guard, Center and bench positions. Ultimately though it was not enough to stop Lebron James on route to his first ever championship as they beat out Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games while the Lakers got bounced in the second round while being lucky to even make it that far after beating out the underdog Denver Nuggets in 7 games.
This is where this rivalry changes from an Old vs New to the next big thing. Kobe was well aware that now that Lebron and Co. had the taste of what it took to win a Championship they would be near impossible to beat. The Heat had many flaws that could be improved upon and that scared Kobe and the rest of the league.
Kobe has been so determined to match Jordan and get that sixth ring that you can ASSURE, that he was on the phone to Jerry Buss the next day. Kobe knew that the Lakers needed to severely upgrade their roster if they were any chance of putting up a challenge to the Heat this season.
And upgrade they did. The Lakers pulled off typical powerhouse sporting franchise type trades as they got two players who played the very position of Miami’s weakness. They went out and got a point guard and a center. The thing for Lakers fans though was that it couldn’t just be any point guard and center. They had to be big time and they were. Kobe got two new all star team mates in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
The Lakers immediately sky rocketed to favoritism for the NBA Championship and Kobe can smell the chance of his sixth ring. What shocked the NBA world more was that the Lakers were able to keep Power Forward Pau Gasol despite the many rumors suggesting it was near impossible to keep him. The Lakers now have four All Stars in their starting lineup. All of which as starting All Star caliber although it is likely that fellow Los Angeles team the Clippers while take two starting spots off them being Chris Paul at Point Guard and Blake Griffin at Power Forward. The Lakers were also able to get bench depth as they added Antawn Jamison which allows the Lakers that extra scoring punch and further allows them to stretch the floor when they share the court with either Dwight or Gasol.
These moves immediately relegate the Thunder to Western Conference underdogs after two seasons of talk of there rise to the top and inevitable dominance of that conference.
It is now back up to the reigning champion Heat to go back to playing the « We have everything to prove game ». After looking like it was there league officially and the era of dominance that many experts predicted once the construction of there team had come together it is now time again for the Heat to take the league off the Lakers.
When asking who has more to lose this season out of these two powerhouse sides it becomes very difficult to actually decide. Is it the Heat who may look like a one and done franchise after announcing that they would win eight championships in front of thousands of fans? Or is it the Lakers who pulled all the moves in order to challenge?
Firstly, I want to look at the Lakers. This team has more of a win now feel about it. Nash is the oldest at 38, Jamison is 36, Kobe 34, Gasol and Metta World Peace all 32. The Lakers starters therefore have an average age of 32.4. Nash has been so close to winning a championship but has failed to do so and with his two MVP awards, really needs a chip to validate his career. To me though, the most pressure is on Dwight Howard. All the hate that was thrown on Lebron after his « Desicion » was redirected to Dwight Howard after his satirically entitled « The Indecision » infuriated Magic fans and people everywhere over the constant drain of where he would end up. Out of all teams he went to the Lakers. *Sigh*.
Dwight Howard needs to show the maturity that Lebron showed this season. Where jokes finish and now it becomes time where you go out and win championships. Like it or not Magic fans, Dwight Howard is the best Center in the NBA and no doubt a top five player in the league. IF he overcomes his back issues, there is no doubt he will mature and dominate NBA courts around the nation. How do i know this? Remember his teammate Kobe Bryant? Yeah well he isn’t to fond on losing at all and there is no way he is letting a side show happen on his way to title number six and a re-opening on the Kobe/Jordan debate. Steve Nash is also the leader who can ensure that Dwight gets what he wants. So this is it Dwight, your chance to rid yourself of the haters and shoot them off to the next hated superstar, probably Carmelo Anthony. But if you fail, you have the ridicule and wrath of Kobe to deal with.
Secondly, for the Heat it may be them with more to lose. They created their Big Three with the understanding that they would be the most feared tandem in the league for years to come. They talked the talk and and did not expect a move like this by any team let alone the Lakers. This experiment would be a certain let down if they were to only win one championship. Now i am not saying that if they lose the chip this year they have no shot ever again, but time is everything in the NBA and the windows aren’t always San Antonio Spurs big.
Lebron has now felt what it is like to win a championship. He needs to prove his greatness by displaying that he can elevate his team above all challenges because if he thought it was hard to win one championship it gets alot harder to win another. This remember was a shortened season, question marks will always be placed on the champion Heat. That is why it is imperative that they win the title again this year.
We wont truly know what is going to happen this year between the Lakers and the Heat. Don’t rule out other teams like the Spurs, the Celtics (still), the Thunder or even the Mavs. This is the NBA, crazy things happen. But until then lets all speculate. The season draws near and gosh do i hope its a Lakers vs Heat championship. I am getting ahead of myself already. Lets just all mark our calenders for the 17th of January 2013 at the Staples Center. It’s gonna be an epic battle but it will only tease us.
The winner means nothing. Until June.
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