Kobe Bryant’s decision to retire after the current NBA season is affecting people in different ways.
LeBron James tells ESPN that it’s “truly sad for me”, because he will now never face Kobe in the NBA Finals.
“I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain in 2009 for the fans, for us, to meet in the Finals,” James said this week, looking back on the 2008-09 season when his Cleveland Cavaliers led the league with a 66-16 record and Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers were right behind him at 65-17. “I know the world wanted to see it. I wanted it, we wanted it. He held up his end and I didn’t hold up my end, and I hate that. I hate that that didn’t happen.”
James and his Cavs lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals 4-2. Then, the Lakers would beat the Magic in the Finals 4-1.
“Obviously there was so much made about it, from commercials to media talk, to people just talking about the Lakers versus the Cavs, Kobe versus LeBron, Kobe versus LeBron, Kobe versus LeBron, but I couldn’t do that to my teammates to kind of assume,” James said. “That’s not my job. I’ve seen the stat that since ’07 either he has or I’ve been in the Finals, but we’ve never matched up. And that definitely sucks. Not only for us two being competitors, wanting to go against each other in the Finals, but also for the fans.”