LeBron on never facing Kobe in Finals: ‘I didn’t hold up my end’

Despite double-digit NBA Finals appearances between the two, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant never faced each other for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Juan Ocampo/Getty Images

By Mark Fishman

Back in 2009, NBA fans came tantalizingly close to seeing a dream matchup in the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, LeBron vs. Kobe never happened in the NBA playoffs, and “King James” is upset it never came to pass.

During his first stint in Cleveland, LeBron James and the Cavaliers lost in six games to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. If LeBron and the Cavs won the series, they would have faced off against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

“I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain,” James said of 2009, when the Cavs were upset by the Orlando Magic in the conference finals. “I know the world wanted to see it. I wanted it, he wanted it. He held up his end, I didn’t hold up my end and I hate that. I hate that it didn’t happen.”

To be fair, James did average 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game during that series. Yes, a Finals matchup between Kobe and LeBron would have been thrilling, but James probably shouldn't be too hard on himself when it comes to his playoff performance in 2009.

The Lakers went on to defeat the Magic in five games in the 2009 Finals. The series win gave Bryant his fourth championship ring and first since Shaquille O'Neal left Los Angeles.

Additionally, since 2007, every NBA Finals has featured either Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Never both together, however.

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