Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bron vs. Melo

"If we polled every NBA fan out there and asked them for their dream Finals matchup, I'm guessing about 90 percent would say "Lakers-Cavs." This has been the case for the past two seasons. Once we got nostalgia out of the way with the Boston-L.A. Finals in 2008, everyone's attention turned to the Kobe-LeBron battle for the "best player alive" title. I'm not knocking a potential Lakers-Cavs Finals. I'm just saying that we might be ignoring a better series.

Did you watch last Thursday's Cavs-Nuggets game? LeBron James casually threw up a 43-point, 15-assist, 13-rebound triple-double, only to be outdone by Carmelo Anthony, who hit the game-winner, right in LeBron's mug for a 118-116 overtime victory on the road at The Q. It wasn't just a good game, it was an epic game -- about as good and dramatic and riveting as a regular season game can possibly get.

It was so good that it had players like Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul tweeting about it a few minutes after it ended. After the game I remember thinking, "What could possibly be better than watching seven games of a high-stakes Bron and Melo duel for the championship?" The answer is: nothing.

What made last Thursday's game such an instant classic is that LeBron and Melo were both tasked with checking each other. That is key. Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain was a great rivalry not only because Boston and Philadelphia were always battling for league supremacy, but also because Wilt and Russ fought from tipoff until the game-ending buzzer. It's something we can't say for Magic vs. Bird. It's also something we can't say about a potential Kobe vs. LeBron battle. Save for maybe the last five minutes of the game, we wouldn't see Bron and Kobe squaring off against each other too often. Nothing can approach a Lakers-Cavs Final when it comes to star power and the drama of the world's two best players trying to settle the "Who's The Man?" debate. That's abstract stuff, though. I'm talking about something very tangible, I'm talking aesthetics. A Cavs-Nuggets Final means that we'd get Bron vs. Melo -- literally -- for 40 to 45 minutes a game over an entire series. Think about that."
-Vincent Thomas (SLAM Magazine)
NBA - Forget Kobe-LeBron, The Best Finals Would Be Melo-LeBron

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